What is 3D Scanning

3D scanning is the process of analyzing an object to gather data on its size and shape. The data collected is turned into a 3D digital file. The resulting file can be used to create a virtual model or physical copies of that real-world object.

How Does 3D Scanning Work?

3D scanning works by taking x, y, and z measurements at millions of points around the object under investigation and calculating its surface geometry with a technique called triangulation. In other words, 3D scanning captures three-dimensional shape data and texture of an object that can be used in specialized software later for various purposes like manufacturing prototypes, reverse engineering, quality assurance, part digitization, CAD-compare, or creating virtual reality models.

Types of 3D Scanning

There are several different types of 3D scanning technologies available today, each with its own strengths, weaknesses, and degrees of accuracy and price. The most common methods in industrial applications include laser scanning, structured light scanning, and industrial ct scanning.
  • Structured Light: Structured light scanners use patterns or grids of white or blue light projected on the object being scanned. Cameras are used to capture the data points. Software then uses algorithms to reconstruct the shape of the object based on these points. This method is usually used for industrial applications like measuring large objects or parts, objects with complex geometries, or materials with higher densities.
  • Industrial CT Scanning: Also called 3D computed tomography, it is a 3D scanning method of computer aided, x-ray radiation used to produce internal and external 3D imagery. Mathematical methods are used to construct volume data allowing an interior view that no other technology can offer.
  • Laser: A laser scanner uses laser infrared light instead of light from a projector to capture an object's shape to produce detailed 3D images in minutes. The laser light is projected onto a rotating mirror that paints the surrounding environment with light. Objects in the path of the laser reflect the beam back to the scanner, providing the geometry needed to produce 3D data. However, this method requires an uninterrupted line-of-sight between the scanner and the object being scanned, so it cannot measure hidden features.

Issues to Consider Associated with
3D Scanners

  • 3D scanners are expensive
  • The quality of the scanning software and hardware is crucial for producing high-quality scans. Poorly designed scanners can generate low-quality data that requires extensive post-processing to be helpful.
  • 3D scanners can take anywhere from minutes to hours, depending on the type of scanner, the size of the object being scanned, or the resolution requirements.
  • Measurement uncertainty: It is the component of a reported value within which the true value is asserted to lie. It addresses error from all possible effects and is the most appropriate means of expressing the accuracy. Equipment, resolution, repeatability, operator, environment, methods, and calibration can all have an effect on measurement uncertainty in the 3D scanning process.

Real-Time Applications of
3D Scanning

  • 3D scanning technology has become progressively popular in the last decade, with many industries adopting 3D scanning for their work.
  • 3D-scanned data can be used to create medical models, such as prosthetics, which can then be used for a number of purposes.
  • Retail uses 3D scanning for capture of body measurements.
  • Architects use 3D scanners to create highly detailed models of buildings and build architectural plans.
  • Law enforcement agencies are using 3D scanning technology to scan crime scenes and develop virtual recreations of them.
  • Manufacturing companies use 3D scanning to create parts using complex shapes and curves without having any need for human input during production time.
  • Industrial applications for 3D scanning include quality control, prototyping, 3D printing, reverse engineering and CAD creation, finite element analysis, metrology, dimensional inspection, and process adjustment.

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