RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C., August 24, 2007- Geomagic Studio, Geomagic’s digital reconstruction software, played a key role in analyzing damage to the underside of the Endeavour shuttle, helping NASA determine that it was safe to forego repairs. Endeavour landed safely Tuesday at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Since the return to flight after the Columbia disaster in 2003, Geomagic Studio has been a major part of the process that enables NASA to detect, assess and repair, if necessary, tile damage caused by foam particles dislodged from the shuttle and other space-borne debris.
The process of capturing, processing and digitally recreating tiles for the shuttle starts with a Neptec scanner mounted on a 50-foot-long extension of the shuttle’s robot arm. As the shuttle nears the space station for rendezvous, it rolls over to expose its underside. Video surveys and detailed 3D scanning inspections are conducted during the approach and docking to determine damage to the tiles underneath the wings.
“Tile damage is part of space travel,” says Rob Black, Geomagic account executive for NASA. “Video in 2D can pick up some of it, but the details are only discernable through 3D analysis.”
Scan data from the Neptec system transmitted to NASA and then sent on to Boeing engineers in Houston, where Geomagic Studio is used to process the data and create a 3D model of the damaged tiles. Boeing is the major subcontractor to United Space Alliance, NASA’s prime contractor for space shuttle operations.
Automated processes in Geomagic Studio enable Boeing to transform scan data into accurate surface models in about 10 minutes per scan, according to Boeing engineer Steven M. Turner. Four scans were used to model the damage to the underside of the Endeavour.
Geomagic Studio files of the tile damage were imported into CATIA software to create a final model that Boeing used to conduct thermal, stress and other analyses as required. The digital models from Geomagic software were also used to create rapid physical prototypes of the damage for analysis and possible repair simulation.
Fortunately, analysis showed that the Endeavour damage was not extensive enough to call for a spacewalk by astronauts to make the repair.
“We are very proud of the role Geomagic software played in helping ensure the safe return of Endeavour,” says Black. “It’s a privilege to provide our technology for a project of such significance, and a major validation of our software’s high level of automation, speed, reliability and accuracy.”
Geomagic (www.geomagic.com) is a global company dedicated to advancing and applying 3D technology for the benefit of humanity. Geomagic’s scanning and design software solutions are used to capture and model 3D content from physical objects, organically sculpt complex shapes, and prepare products for manufacturing. In addition, the company produces powerful 3D metrology and inspection software that verifies dimensional quality by comparing as-built products to master designs. Geomagic’s Sensable Phantom haptic devices simulate the sense of touch in a digital environment.
Geomagic’s software and hardware are utilized by world-class customers in a variety of industries, including aerospace, automotive, medical, consumer products, toys, collectibles, coindesign, jewelry, fine art, heritage restoration, research, education, mold making, entertainment, training and surgical simulation. In fact, some of the world’s leading companies and research organizationsuse Geomagic software, including Ford, BMW,Boeing, Harley Davidson, Timberland, Mattel/Fisher Price, Lego, Pratt & Whitney, NASA, Schneider Electronic, 3M, Danaher and Invisalign. Geomagic is based in Research Triangle Park, N.C., USA, with an office in Boston, subsidiaries in Europe and Asia, and channel partners worldwide.
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