Airfix Announce 3D Modelling

3d Scanning Westland SeaKing

Airfix Announce 3D Scanning for High Detail Models

On Saturday 8th November 2014 the Airfix Development team gave their annual presentation to a packed lecture theatre at IPMS Scale ModelWorld 2014, revealing some key products from the forthcoming Airfix 2015 range, plus unveiling some new, cutting-edge technology that has been used in the creation of key models for next year.


LIDAR scanning

We’re excited to announce that we have used LIDAR (Light Radar) scanning for the first time for the development of key models in the 2015 range.

In essence, LIDAR scanning uses laser light to accurately map the surface of an object (such as a plane) in three dimensions, resulting in a high-definition 3D computer image of the object. This image can then be fed into the Airfix CAD system, enabling us to produce incredibly detailed models directly mapped from a plane or vehicle, rather than recreating the shape from other sources such as blueprints or photographs.

The laser scanner is placed around the asset in as many as 40 -50 positions, from both the ground and a raised platform such as a scissor lift, in order to get the best coverage. The scanner rotates, sweeping the area with a laser, which is constantly taking measurements throughout the scan. As many as 5 million points are mapped in each sweep, producing a 3D image with detail as small as a fraction of a millimeter.

The next step is to align all of the separate scans, then clean out all unwanted material, such as the surrounding area, people and any errors cause by reflective and refractive surfaces such as glass and mirrors. Finally, this point cloud is then converted into a solid polygonal mesh object, ready for us to use as a template for the Airfix CAD system.

The film below shows a LIDAR scan taken for one of next year’s key Airfix releases – please note, this film does not have sound.

Airfix 2015 Highlights

The new Airfix 2015 range will be fully unveiled at the end of this December, but here’s some key highlights from next year’s range to whet your appetite.

1/72 Heinkel HE111-P2 – due Q3 2015

The Heinkel HE111-P2 was the primary Luftwaffe bomber during the early stages of World War II. Initial research by the Airfix Development team revealed existing drawings to be quite poor, so the team travelled to Norway in January 2014 to LIDAR scan a restored HE111 (see film above).

The plane originally crash-landed on a snow-covered hillside in 1940, where it remained until its discovery by a teenage boy in 1943. It was eventually recovered from the hillside between 1973-76, and its restoration continues today as more parts are recovered from the site.

The model is slated for release in Q3 2015 to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

1/72 Westland Sea King HC4 – due Q4 2015

The Sea King has always been a popular part of the Airfix range, however the existing model and tooling was beginning to age. As the team wanted to get the complex shape of the Sea King 100% correct, they travelled to HMS Sultan in Gosport in April to painstakingly LIDAR scan a Westland Sea King HC4.

1/72 Boulton Paul Defiant Mk.1 – due January 2015

The Defiant was a key interceptor aircraft used by the Royal Air Force in World War II, designed as a “turret fighter” without any forward-firing guns. Following initial vulnerability to the Luftwaffe’s Messerschmitt Bf 109, the Defiant came into its own as a night fighter.

The Airfix team took the opportunity of carrying out their research, examining the plane and original drawings, while the only surviving Defiant was under restoration at MAPS, producing this brand new tooling of a very popular aircraft.

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