Soft Air USA Inc. of Grapevine, Texas, is a subsidiary of Cybergun S.A., the world’s leading manufacturer of replica airsoft guns.
Airsoft guns fire 6 mm plastic balls using a low-power spring, CO 2, gas, or electric force designed to avoid the potential for injury. Many Soft Air USA products are used by the military and law enforcement agencies for training exercises. Soft Air USA has licenses from a wide variety of gun manufacturers, including industry leaders such as Smith & Wesson, Colt, Sig Sauer, IMI (Uzi), Mauser, Thompson, and Kalashnikov.
Because the real guns can’t be shipped to Asia, where the replicas are manufactured, in the past manufacturers would be forced to travel to the United States to make silicone molds of the guns, which they would then take back to their nations. However, Soft Air USA has recently devised a creative means for reducing the time required to get its licensed replica airsoft guns to market by as much as four to six weeks. The company is accomplishing this impressive feat by scanning the real guns using the laser-scanning service bureau of 3-D digitizer NVision Inc. of Southlake, Texas.
NVision’s laser-scanning service bureau uses laser scanning to produce a computer-aided design (CAD) file of the gun’s geometry. “Laser scanning helps us get our guns to market faster, which typically results in a 25-percent increase in the revenues generated by each product,” says John Steele, president of Soft Air USA.
NVision has been a leader in the 3-D digitizing industry since the company’s founding in 1990. NVision’s expertise rests with its unique 3-D scanners, software, and contract services for reverse-engineering, inspection, gauging, and rapid prototyping. This wide range of products and services made NVision the perfect fit for Soft Air USA’s scanning requirements on this particular project.
Laser scanning works by projecting a line of laser light onto the surfaces to be measured, while a camera continuously triangulates the changing distance and profile of the laser line as it sweeps along that surface. A computer translates the video image of the line into accurate 3-D coordinates of the geometry of the object being scanned. NVision technicians then create a point cloud consisting of millions of points of data, and then use special software to automatically generate a surface model of the part through the point cloud. The resulting CAD file is provided to Soft Air USA.
“The CAD model produced by laser scanning incorporates every detail of the prototype geometry,” Steele says. “The result is a much more accurate replica than we were ever able to produce using silicone molds. Even more important is the time savings, which helps us get to market faster and generate higher revenues for each product.
“We have been very pleased with the accuracy, cost, and lead time of NVision’s laser scanning services. They make it easy and cost effective to take advantage of laser scanning without making any capital investment.” An example of a Soft Air USA replica airsoft gun
The CAD model produced by NVision’s laser scanning is used to create the most accurate replica possible.