Cadillac's Elmiraj concept car has a 500 hp engine, an interior that boasts camel colored leather and hand carved Brazilian rosewood, and it was all designed with 3D scanning.

Developers were able to scan a hand-sculpted model and machine a full-size clay model in less than a week of the concept car that was unveiled at the Los Angeles International Auto Show earlier this month.

That's important when trying to work out what one of the world's most beautiful and impressive cars should look like.

"With the Elmiraj, we were able to use 3D scanning as the bridge between traditional hand-sculpting teams who work in clay, and digital modeling design teams who work in math," GM's North Hollywood Advanced Design Studio Director Frank Saucedo said. "Our ability to scan the clay model with speed and precision, and go from the digital tools to the hands of a craftsman and vice versa was extremely valuable."

GM executes tens of thousands of scans every year. Laser-based and structured white and blue light scanning is also used in engineering applications, competitive benchmarking and in assembly plants for trouble-shooting part irregularities.

"Thanks in part to 3D scanning, we can translate surface from a scale model to a full-size model in less than one week now," said Bill Mattana, senior manager of global surface creation at GM's Warren Design Center. "Not only is Elmiraj a stunningly beautiful concept car, it served as a tremendous opportunity for extending our use of 3D scanning."

GM has used 3D scanning since 2001.

Traditionally the company uses it more on clay interior and exterior properties than drivable concept cars, but the Elmiraj was an exception. GM's Design Center Fabrication Shops in Warren, Mich. and Advanced Design Studio in California used 3D scanning to validate nearly every pattern, mold and part during each phase of the vehicle build.

Designers are increasingly using 3D scanning in car design, which typically starts when a 2D image is turned into a 3D mathematical rendering.

Math models serve as the basis for computer controlled milling and hand modeling in clay. Using 3D scanners allows designers to quickly reverse engineer and update the master math model.

"It provides a means of recording every design change with the utmost accuracy," GM Design Fabrication Operations Director David Bolognino said. "A scan can even reveal the need to take a step back to a previous iteration, and 3-D scanning makes it relatively easy to do."