Industry Applications

From 3D scanning to downstream applications

What are different uses for 3D scanning?

3D scanning is typically only the first part of a project for data collection. This guide explains the use of 3D scanning technology across different industry applications.

3D Scanning

Transforming a physical object into digital 3D model.

Physical Part
Physical Part

Original object for 3D scanning

Point Cloud
Point Cloud

Digital 3D coordinates collected from the scanner

3D Model
Digital 3D Model

A three-dimensional representation (View it in 3D)

How it Works

It is difficult to get precise measurements from objects with complex shapes using conventional methods such as calipers or rulers. 3D scanning is a fast way to collect surface measurements from physical objects into 3D digital form accurately with repeatable results. 3D scanners are becoming more widely adopted due to their affordability and versatility. Many industries use 3D scanning as part of their processes to improve efficiency and product quality.

3D Scanners

Reverse Engineering

The process of analyzing the construction of a product with the intention of developing a similar or an improved design.

Scan Data
Scan Data

Data collected from the physical part using a 3D scanner

CAD Model
CAD Model

Part designed using scan data captured from a 3D scanner

How it Works

Industry parts no longer in production (ie. car parts) or lacking the original design documents can use 3D scanning to capture the information needed for reproduction. Using a 3D scanner, product designers and engineers can quickly and accurately obtain precise measurements of an existing object for reference instead of designing from a blank slate, saving valuable time and money. Scan data contains all the measurement information that serves as a guide to model scanned data into a CAD model, the conceptual design of a part ready for production. During this stage, additional features or details can also be added, modified, or edited to the part in the final design.

How it Works
Reverse engineering workflow from 3D scan data to 3D CAD modeling. 3D scanners output point cloud or polygon mesh. A separate software is required to convert scan data to CAD model.

Reverse Engineering Software

Reverse Engineering case study

Case Study

Reverse Engineering Facilities Design Innovation

Learn how two-time Olympic medalist redesigned a new hybrid kayak/canoe for his races.

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3D Inspection

Quality control against manufacturing defects by comparing 3D scan data from a physical object against a CAD model.

Manufactured Part
Manufactured Part

3D measurements collected from the physical part with 3D scanning

CAD Model
CAD Model

Conceptual design of the part

Inspection
Inspection

Measurement deviations are shown when the two are put together

Reporting
Reporting

Detailed report for further analysis

How it Works

In an ideal world every manufactured part would be an identical replica of the CAD model, the design blueprint of the part. In reality, every physical part that is manufactured has slight variations. Tolerances are acceptable deviations from the CAD model. By 3D scanning manufactured parts and comparing the measurements with the CAD model, we can determine whether the part meets acceptable tolerances. First article inspection is the thorough analysis of the first part created in production to ensure the manufacturing process is setup correctly. In-line inspection refers to the process of automatically passing or failing parts (go/no-go operation) in a factory assembly line by comparing the part’s scan data against specified tolerances, reducing time and eliminating errors associated with manual inspection. In both types of the inspection process, comprehensive reports can be generated for further analysis with the use of inspection software.

3D Inspection Software

Scientific Measurement

Monitoring measurement for variations and analysis.

3d scan
A digital 3D model of a dolphin skull was created with a structured-light 3D scanner for measurement analysis.
View the model in 3D.

How it Works

3D scanning is particularly useful for research studies related to examining and comparing the physical similarities and differences between two or more related objects. In the field of paleontology, information can be inferred about a specimen’s genetics, environment, evolutionary changes, and how it lived by examining an organism’s biological structure—its shape and size. Geometric morphometrics is a comparative study of complex biological structures by referencing a set of common anatomical landmark points (digital 3D coordinates) across different specimens. 3D scanning provides an efficient method for data collection and statistical analysis. Researchers can compare these coordinates across specimens to see how they relate or differentiate from one another.

Related Software

scientific measurement
Scientific Research case study

Case Study

3D Scanning for Scientific Research

Spend less time on data collection, and more time on statistical analysis. Learn how 3D scanning will transform the way you conduct your research, including a research report that demonstrates the use of 3D scanning to study facial morphology.

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Additive Manufacturing

3D printing for use in commercial applications.

additive
Additive (layering)
Subtractive
Subtractive (removing)

How It Works

Additive manufacturing builds a part by fusing layers of material together as though you are printing in 3D space. On the other hand, subtractive manufacturing carves out an object from a solid block of material using a CNC milling machine. Additive or subtractive manufacturing are synonymous to rapid prototyping because it is a fast and low cost way for engineers to make design prototypes in small batches. Through these manufacturing techniques, a model can be reproduced in small/large scale simply by 3D scanning and reducing/enlarging its measurements accordingly for production. Artists and sculptors recreate their art form from small prototypes into large-scale models using this method.

3D scanning, together with additive/subtractive manufacturing, also opens the doors to create customized products. 3D scanners have become valuable in the medical field as they capture vast amounts of face and body measurements in a matter of seconds. Since each person is unique in their physical appearance, medical practitioners can use these measurements to create customize medical products for their patients (ie. orthotics, prosthetics, sleep apnea masks, mouth guards).

custom orthotics
Digital casting technology enables medical practioners to capture body measurements without physical contact using a 3D scanner. With 3D scanning and additive/subtractive manufacturing, customized products can be created for each patient. For example, custom orthotics can be produced for a specific patient by scanning his/her feet.

Related Software

3D Printer

Additive Manufacturing case study

Case Study

Jamestown Rediscovery Archaeological Project

Learn how powerful emerging technologies—from 3D scanning, 3D modeling to 3D printing—provided a new perspective on an exhibition to enhance the museum experience.

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3D Visualization

Modeling an object digitally into 3D form by referencing an existing object rather than creating from scratch for viewing or digital archiving.

3D Visualization

How It Works

3D scanning reduces the amount of time needed for projects that require a vast volume of items to be modeled in 3D. This is especially true for creating CGI in video games, animation, TV production, and movies. Through the process of 3D scanning, visual artists can digitize objects and people and use them as a starting point for modeling that saves time and headaches. 3D scanning is also great for archiving and preserving collections into digital format without compromising on quality (ie. products for an ecommerce store, digitize artifacts for a virtual museum). 3D scanners can capture color and texture to preserve an object’s true likeness. The information is stored digitally so it can be access at anytime. If the object is delicate, non-contact 3D scanning captures the measurement without contact.

digital artifacts
Digital artifacts created by Sustainable Archaeology using a HDI Advance 3D scanner. For more information, please visit: Sustainable Archaeology website

Related Products

Watch Video Demonstration Series:
3D Scanning to Downstream Applications