The Secret of 3D Scanning: The Ultimate Guide

3D scanning
The ultimate guide to 3D scanning including things you can scan and the benefits to business

Running a business is already complicated, but the pandemic made it even more challenging. Read on to find out the history of 3D scanning and how it can help your business move forward. 

The first 3D scanning technology was created in the 1960s. Initially, its uses were limited and it was often dismissed  in real-life applications. However, technology has evolved and 3D scanning is here to stay.

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3D scanning is a process that allows us to analyse objects and collect relevant data. The data enables us to recreate the objects virtually. 3D scanning technology has gained popularity in numerous industries including healthcare, manufacturing, entertainment and construction.

With its endless applications, 3D scanning is a game changer and can transform businesses. Its printing potential across verticles including aerospace, automotive, and medical is still growing.

What is 3D Scanning Used For?

3D scanning is a complex process. It involves highly sophisticated machinery that allows us to analyse real-life objects. 

In short, it is a method of data collection that enables us to examine the outer surfaces of objects. It will provide you with critical data that accurately describe the object in question.

The data collected is then used to recreate the object in a three-dimensional digital space using CAD (Computer-Aided-Design) software.

The digital 3D model created is then used by professionals or hobbyists to digitally examine objects with much greater precision and in a shorter time span.

It also gives you the opportunity to reverse engineer objects to find faults and improve on existing designs. 

What could your business realise with the help of 3D scanning? Having a 3D model allows users to visualize all details present, which stimulates the creation of ideas. Thus, 3D Scanning is a revolutionary tool capable of promoting innovation and helping industries develop and perfect their products.

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Things You Can Scan

3D scanning allows you to analyse virtually any object, from highly textured surfaces and extremely technical objects to living things such as plants and animals. Due to its versatility, it’s used in many industries.

While the medical applications of 3D scanning are strictly restricted to medical professionals, those in industrial design, automotive, artists and archaeology & heritage are available to most. 

3D scanning has greatly benefited the medical industry. Doctors are now able to visualise the internal structure of a patient’s bodies using the image created. This allows them to diagnose with no further tests. It has also improved prosthetic body parts. 

With 3D scanning, the measurement of the body’s autonomy has been simplified and also made much more accurate. This allows creating prosthetic parts that fit perfectly, with no room for mistakes.

Industrial Design
With the help of 3D scanners, the measuring of products has never been easier. Being able to measure everything, down to the smallest detail, contributes immensely to the prototyping of parts and appliances. Moulded components are now more accurate. The process of concept design has become simple and more productive.

3D scanning has enabled us to virtually break down vehicles to their individual components and is changing the automotive industry. This allows us to inspect every part and clearly identify issues present. With 3D scanning, you get perfect quality inspections, particularly with the engine, which is a highly complex machine. Another application for 3D scanning is the prototyping of parts to ensure they are of the required standard.

Thanks to 3D scanning, artists can now take their physical works of art into the digital world. It has given artists a completely new way of expressing themselves and sharing their work with the rest of the world. Through this advanced procedure, fine arts can be scanned and changed as the artist sees fit. 

The option of enlargement has also been introduced, allowing them to size up their art with no compromise on quality. It has also improved the mould making process for statues and sculptures; creating moulds identical to the original work with little to no error.

Archaeology & Heritage
The restoring and archiving of ancient pieces has always been a tedious and highly intricate process where a single mistake could cause the loss of valuable work. 

3D scanning has eased the work of archaeologists and museum curators. The preservation of sculptures, clay figures, engraved items and fossils has been improved to ensure that our heritage lasts for centuries to come.

Surface Scan provides all these amazing services like 3D scanning and much more.

Many scanning technologies are available, each with its own mechanism:


Laser Triangulation 3D Scanning Technology
This a laser type scanner where the laser is initially cast onto the object. It will then reflect off the object in a different direction which is picked up by a sensor. Using triangulation, the deviation angle of the trajectory is easily found. This angle has a direct relationship with the distance of the object from the scanner. As more and more distances are collected, the scanner maps the object to a greater extent, creating a 3D scan.

Structured Light 3D Scanning Technology
Either white or blue light is used in this type of scanner. The light is projected onto the object in a series of lines that could also be in a randomized dot matrix form. The system then uses triangulation along with these lines to determine the distance from the scanner to the object’s surface. The distances found are then used to create a 3D scan of the object.

Photogrammetry 3D Scanning Technology (Photography)
Unlike the previous scanners, photogrammetry uses photos. Several photographs of a static object are taken from various viewpoints and analysed. With the input of the parameters of the camera (e.g. focal length and lens distortion), these photos are analysed by very powerful computers capable of running photogrammetry algorithms. The computer is able to detect pixels corresponding to physical points and hence create a 3D scan.

Contact-based 3D Scanning Technology
This type of scanning is also known as digitizing. It involves a 3D scanner probe that is kept in contact with and moved on the surface of the object while ensuring the object is stationary.

As the probe moves, it records 3D information and angles of the object which is then used to create the respective 3D scan. An articulated arm is attached to the probe making the data collected even more precise

Laser Pulse-based 3D Scanning Technology (Also known as a time-of-flight scanner)
Unlike other scanners, it does not use triangulation. It uses the speed of light and sensors to find the geometry of the object. Millions of pulses are sent and reflected by the object back to the sensor. The time to reach the object is then used along with the speed of light to find the distance of the object from the source for each pulse. A mirror is then used to rotate the laser so that it analyses other parts of the objects in the same manner. Once all the data is collected a 3D scan is formed.

Surface Scan uses the peel 2 CAD 3D scanner, one of the most accurate laser type scanners, having an accuracy of 0.1mm. The 2 CAD 3D scanner can easily scan objects and send them to your CAD almost instantly. This allows Surface Scan to produce high-quality 3D scans which are of great help to their customers

Benefits Of 3D Scanning

With its multiple applications, 3D scanning has many benefits. Here are the most impactful ones:

Saves Time:
Many new products are based on older products that have been improved. In order to improve, these older models have to be reverse engineered. 3D scanning facilitates the reverse engineering process, hence saving time 

Quality Control:
Quality control is extremely important for any industry. 3D scanning enables us to make a virtual 3D model of the object, with any faults that may be present, in minutes. These 3D models are easier to analyse and allow us to both find any fault present and inspect each and every part of the product. 

Comparing Designs:
With the use of 3D scanning, an accurate comparison between designs can be made. This is a great tool when innovating or upgrading existing products. 

Prototype Process Made Easier
Before 3D scanning, prototyping was a long, drawn-out method. It required multiple attempts before making an accurate prototype, leading to a wastage of both time and material. With the use of 3D scanning, prototypes are created with greater accuracy and in less time. In addition, once scanned the data is saved allowing for comparison with future prototypes.

How Can You Use 3D Scanning?

It can be used for quality control, comparing designs, prototype making and reverse engineering. All of these applications are used along with 3D printing. Thus, 3D scanning and printing go hand in hand. 

Before scanning the object, it is usually covered with a temporary mat powder. This improves the scan’s accuracy. Once the scan is done it is sent to a CAD software where further alterations can be made if required. This is where 3D printing comes into play. The modified virtual model can then be formed physically through 3D printing, allowing us to make prototypes of even final products.

Surface Scan not only provides 3D scanning but also 3D printing. Thus, allowing you to manufacture your designed products from a range of high quality material perfectly. They also provide reverse engineering, a major 3D scanning application. With this process, you can redesign, analyse and test your products easily. 

Our services

3D Scanning

Transform physical items into precise digital models with our metrology-grade 3D scanners.

3D Printing

Use your own STL file or 3D scan data for one-off prints or batch production runs.

Reverse engineering

Convert your scan data into an editable CAD file, ready for the next stage of your project.

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