What can I do if I need to scan challenging surfaces but can’t use permanent 3D scanning spray?

In our previous blog post, How to Scan Dark, Shiny, or Clear Surfaces with a 3D Scanner [With Video Demo], we covered why and how some surfaces are more challenging to scan than others using an optical 3D scanner. These include dark, shiny, transparent surfaces, as well as holes and pitted areas.

To help you get the best results, we recommended spraying the part with a developer spray to cover challenging surfaces with a white coating. It’s a temporary coating that easily comes off. You can wipe off the spray with a cloth after the part is scanned.

Since the article was published, our team has been getting questions on YouTube as to what would be the best solution if a surface can’t be cleaned.


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Questions from Video:
How to Scan Dark, Shiny, or Transparent Surfaces with a 3D Scanner

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Some surfaces can’t be covered with a permanent spray because they are delicate, fragile, or if the object is priceless because it’s one of a kind.
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Some surfaces like Plasticina would be difficult to clean up using a temporary coating because it can cause damage to the object if the surface is wiped or cleaned after scanning.


Luckily, now there’s a solution that can help you out if you run into any of these situations. The AESUB Blue vanishing 3D scanning spray was developed and approved by 3D scanning experts for scanning challenging surfaces (reflective, clear, dark, and difficult to reach pitted areas).

What’s special about this spray is that It leaves no mess and disappears without a trace after your 3D scanning job is complete.

It’s especially great for projects where you are:

  • 3D Scanning Fragile Parts: Working with scan parts that cannot be sprayed or cleaned. AESUB Blue uses a special, evaporating formula that requires no cleaning, won’t stain your surfaces, or affect your product.
  • Doing Quick Jobs: Great for doing quick jobs where you only need to scan the part for a short period of time as the spray will vanish with time (within a few hours). No need for cleanup!
Scan comparison
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View AESUB Blue Technical Datasheet

How It Works: A Step-By Step Guide

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Here is a step-by-step tutorial of how to 3D scan a reflective part using AESUB Blue 3D scanning spray.

Step 1: Simply apply the AESUB Blue 3D scanning spray onto a part’s surface with an even application.
Step 2: Do your 3D scanning job as usual
wait for spray to fade
wait for spray to fade
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Step 3: Within a few hours, the white coating will disappear (depending on temperature and environment). What happens is the AESUB Blue coating will sublimate into the air from solid coating to gas. It’s free of pigments and it leaves no residue on your scan surface.
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Result: What’s left is amazing 3D scanning results!

How Long Will It Take for the Spray to Vanish?

It would depend on the following factors:

  • How much you sprayed
  • How big your part is
  • Airflow (wind speed across a part – under AC vent vanishes faster)
  • Environmental and temperature conditions

Tip: You should use the following videos as a guideline for how long it would take for your part in consideration. If you want the coating to last longer on a part, you should reduce the airflow in the room or put it in a closet to slow down the pace of sublimation.

AESUB Blue Vanishing Spray Analysis

  1. Analysis of Spraying the Part Versus Untreated Surface

    To better understand the technical aspect of the layer’s thickness and homogeneity of the AESUB coating, we did our own analysis. Check out the video:

    Takeaway: Due to the nature that optical 3D scanners use projected light source in the 3D scanning process, the results will be affected by challenging surfaces to a certain degree when left untreated. While AESUB Blue vanishing spray adds ~8-15 microns of thickness to the part’s surface, it provides a consistent layer that aids the 3D scanner in capturing the true nature of the part, without the distortion caused by the challenging surface.

  2. Analysis of Spraying the Part with AESUB Blue Versus Comparable Product

    The manufacturer of AESUB Blue conducted its own lab testing by comparing spraying a surface with AESUB Blue (left) and a CCD vanishing spray previously used in measurement technology (right). The measurement shows a 3D scan of a glass sphere with a diameter of approximately 130 mm.

    surface comparison

    Takeaway: As you can see from the image, AESUB Blue provides a consistent scanning surface compared to a similar product. The sprays provide a thin and homogenous coating—leaving a clean, smooth, and even application with no clumps left behind.

    Another amazing quality of this spray compared to other products out in the market is that it’s less toxic.

  3. Residue Analysis

    An examination of AESUB Blue for potential residues.

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    Figure 1: Product sprayed onto a glass plate coated with aluminum foil
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    Figure 2: Coated glass plate from Figure 1 after sublimation of the product

    Takeaway: AESUB Blue provides neither recognizable nor measurable residues and therefore be regarded as residue-fee.

Recognized for Innovation

There’s no other 3D scanning spray out there quite like it. The AESUB Blue vanishing 3D scanning spray is so revolutionary that it recently landed on Develop3D’s D3D 30 List which features 30 new technologies that give 2020 product development work a major boost.

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“The AESUB’s response is a spray that gives your target a consistent, non-reflective white coating, enabling the scanner to grab all the details you need. Coating disappears overnight, leaving no sticky mess to clean up – it’s like magic in a can.”

– Excerpt from Develop3D.com

What If I Need a Permanent Spray?

aesub white spray

There are still times when your 3D scanning project can last for more than a few hours to even a couple of days. AESUB has a permanent alternative called AESUB White that provides similar benefits to AESUB Blue except it’s a permanent spray.

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* Currently available for shipping to the US only

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