Coolest Garage Ever? Association Opens Up New Testing Lab for Members

The Specialty Equipment Manufacturing Association's new SEMA Garage, opening this month, aims to make it easier for members to create the sometimes-obscure aftermarket parts needed for cars and trucks.

For some associations, innovation comes in the form of great ideas shared with their many members. For the Specialty Equipment Manufacturing Association, innovation comes in the form of a garage.

Not just any garage, mind you—one that can assist in producing the kind of aftermarket vehicle parts that many of the association’s members rely on, at relatively low cost, with the latest technology. More details below:

High-tech tools: This month, SEMA plans to open the new 15,000-square-foot facility in Diamond Bar, California, across the street from the association’s headquarters. The SEMA Garage will help members quickly build specialty parts for cars of all shapes and sizes. The garage’s technology includes a 3D scanning machine that can pick up the details of a vehicle and allow for computer-based manipulation and wire framing; a 3D printing tool that can produce plastic samples of a part; emissions-testing and parts-certification labs; and a photo studio where members can shoot ads.

We’ve further filled the SEMA Garage with tools and equipment, so that members simply need to show up and do what they do best.

The benefit for members: The garage could be a significant boon for the small aftermarket companies that produce highly specialized parts, as it helps take out some of the guesswork involved and could assist companies with getting products to market faster. It also saves money for members, offering  3D scanning and printing at significantly lower prices than at outside shops. “The SEMA Garage is the ultimate production facility,” SEMA Vice President Mike Spagnola told Aftermarket News. “The building was purpose-built to include state-of-the-art equipment specific to auto parts manufacturers. We’ve further filled the SEMA Garage with tools and equipment, so that members simply need to show up and do what they do best.”

ZZ Tip-Top: One of the garage’s earliest customers? Rock star and noted hot rod fanatic Billy Gibbons, whose Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-inducted band, ZZ Top, is known for using heavily customized vehicles in its music videos. So-Cal Speed Shop’s Jimmy Shine, who is custom-building a vehicle for Gibbons, used the SEMA Garage’s 3D scanner to help build a customized z-shaped trim piece for the vehicle, which otherwise could have been a much more difficult process. “We are old school, and we make the parts by cutting and grinding and filing and fitting,” Shine told The New York Times. “We are talking hundreds of hours.” The Times article notes that most manufacturers will likely rely on the garage to formulate mass-produced parts, rather than the one-of-a-kind part needed for Gibbons’ Whiskey Runner.

The garage opens up to the public with an open house July 17.

(Specialty Equipment Manufacturing Association)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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