Engineered Formats & Outputs For Scanning Services

Important first steps in understanding 3D scanning by NPC.

Victoria Russman
Victoria Russman

Engineered Formats & Outputs For Scanning Services

Knowing your engineered formats and output options is an important first step in understanding our scanning process. NPC will help you determine the best delivery method by discussing your intended use for the dataset. From scan to model, there are four key methods to consider for a successful project.

1. Raw data

This is a cloud of points we gather from blue light to any other scanning equipment we deem most appropriate for your measurement job. If it is volume measurement you are seeking, we will provide the voxel data using our Zeiss Industrial CT Scanner. For all of you gamers out there, you may have run across voxels in the gaming world. Article: Why Voxels Are The Future of Video Games, VR, & Simulating Reality A voxel represents a single data point on a three-dimensional grid. It’s pretty rare, but if a company has all the other engineering capabilities in place, they may ask for raw scan data. Sometimes a company may want this data for archival purposes or to test a tool over time to see if there is any wear.

Emesis basin raw data points.
2. STL File Format

.stl is native to stereolithography CAD software, but supported by many software packages. It originated with 3D printers. STL takes the raw data or cloud of points and connects them to form triangles or a polygonized mesh. In the art world this is commonly known as tessellation. Think of honeycombs, tile art, or origami to visualize. Esteemed artist M.C. Escher used this technique in his works. If the customer has their own software they can import the STL to do their own measurements or layouts. NPC can also do in-house layouts with native scan data.

Emesis basin STL polygon mesh.
3. Surface Wrap

This engineered format takes the STL mesh we just discussed and wraps a surface around it. It is one single surface. In other words, it is not broken down into individual geometries. It will incorporate all surface abnormalities so that it is an exact and true representation of the part “as is”. The surface wrap is always exported as a .step file that can be opened in any CAD software.

Emesis basin surface wrap.
4. Parametric Model

This uses the STL mesh as a template and builds perfect surfaces on top of an imperfect part or scan data. Each individual geometric element is modeled separately and the end result is a fully parametric model. This model can be exported into any native 3D CAD format. These are specific to CAD systems and will have the most information and are more accurate than geometric modeling kernel or neutral CAD formats. The parametric model can also be exported as a .step file. In that case you lose the parametric qualities, but still maintain the perfect geometry.

Emesis basin parametric model.

In conclusion, getting to know the customer, the part, and intended use of the scan data we provide is the foremost means to achieving the customer’s objective. Having this communication early on will make for a smoother process throughout.