What You Need to Know About 3D Scanning

3D scanning can lay out the structure of an object digitally. Read the blog to learn more about the process. Visit our website for details.

Victoria Russman
Victoria Russman

3D scanning is a non-destructive technology designed to collect data related to the geometry of a physical object in order to recreate its shape and appearance digitally. 3D scanning companies around the world use different metrology-grade technologies to create CAD models, update existing designs and create new ones, assess product quality, compare manufactured parts to CAD designs and design customized products for different industries.

The 3D Scanning Process Explained

Here are the three steps of the 3D scanning process.

 ➢       Data collection- Whatever technology is employed for 3D scanning, if the data collected is needed for industrial applications then an industrial-grade 3D scanner and applicable support software is necessary. As an example, when using structured blue-light scanning with the ATOS Q by GOM, the shape of the scanned object appears as millions of points, collectively known as a point cloud. The process is lightning fast and accurate, capturing 8-12 million points per scan.

 ➢       Determine a modeling choice- Raw data is a cloud of points sometimes used for archival purposes or to test a tool over time. STL format takes the raw data and forms a mesh which can be used for measurements or layouts. Surface wrap is a wrap of the mesh data which includes all abnormalities and represents the part “as is” and can be opened in any CAD software. Parametric model uses the STL mesh and builds a perfect surface on top; it contains the most information.

 ➢       Use of 3D data for inspection- If the 3D data is to be used for inspection, the design of the scanned object can be compared to the CAD data. The result of the comparison can be presented in the form of a color map deviation report. A color map deviation report is used to present the result of the comparison through pictures and user definable color parameters. Depending on the method used to obtain the 3D data, interrogation software can be used to detect flaws, voids, porosity, inclusions, wall thickness, assembly defects, and more.

Commonly Used 3D Scanning Methods

Here are a few popular 3D scanning techniques

 ➢       Photogrammetry- This method uses the parallax obtained between multiple object pictures taken from different angles. Photogrammetry is an effective method to record 2D and 3D motion fields. It is designed to collect important data regarding the shape, volume and depth of the area being scanned. Using this technology, you can generate maps and 3D models of real-world scenes from land or air.

 ➢       Structured light scanning- This technology projects structured patterns of LED light onto the object that is being scanned. The extent of distortion is measured and the data is used to create a 3D scan.

 ➢       Laser triangulation 3D scanners- Use a laser light or single laser dot and cameras to map the distance of the object at different points and triangulating the points to construct a 3D model.

 ➢       Laser pulse 3D scanning technology- The speed of light and sensors are used to measure the size and shape of an object.

 ➢       Computerized Tomography (CT scan)-  Contains a source that uses a beam of electrons to irradiate a target, producing x-rays incident on the material being inspected. A detector collects the x-rays on the opposite side of the source and converts them into visible light.

 ➢       Contact-based 3D scanning technology- A specialized touching probe is dotted or dragged along the surface of an object to record 3D information.


NelPreTech is a leading 3D scanning company in Illinois. Our expertise enables us to develop customized 3D scanning solutions. To learn more, call 708-429-4887.

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