What are 3D scanners used for?
3D scanning is now more popular than ever, and businesses all over the world are embracing this versatile technology to boost productivity, eliminate unnecessary costs, and create new and exciting products and services.
Whether you are an industrial engineer looking for a powerful reverse-engineering solution, or a doctor seeking an efficient way to create prosthetics, 3D scanning is your key to success.
In this article, we will look at some industries that have successfully integrated 3D scanning technologies into their workflows and see how this has helped them achieve phenomenal results, so that you can find the 3D scanning solution which suits you best.
But first let’s go over some of the basic terms and concepts used in the 3D industry, to make sure we’re on the same page.
What is 3D scanning?
3D scanning is a technology for creating high-precision 3D models of real-world objects. It works like this: a 3D scanner takes multiple snapshots of an object. The shots are then fused into a 3D model, an exact three-dimensional copy of the object, which you can rotate and view from different angles on your computer.
What is a 3D scan?
A 3D scan is a three-dimensional image of part of an object’s surface. Sets of 3D scans form a 3D model. Just as 2D photos are made up of pixels, 3D scans are made up of tiny triangles, or polygons. Polygons form a polygonal mesh, which replicates the object’s geometry in minute detail.
What does a 3D scanner do?
A 3D scanner generates 3D scans. A scanner works like a video camera, meaning it takes shots of an object. A camera, however, makes two-dimensional stills, while the scanner captures the geometry of the object’s surface, and the shots it has made are worked into a 3D model rather than a video.
What is 3D scanning used for?
3D scanning is a technology used in cutting-edge workflows. Take the automotive industry. Want to check if a new valve will improve an engine’s performance? 3D scan the valve to make a 3D model, modify it via reverse engineering, and place it into CAD software to see how the valve will perform inside the engine.
How do you use a 3D scanner?
3D scanners are used in a range of industries, from manufacturing to healthcare and VR. Retrofitting heavy machinery, performing quality control of mechanical parts, designing customized prosthetic devices, creating visual effects for movies, developing characters for video games – all such projects have high-precision 3D models of physical objects at their core.
Industrial design & engineering
Innovative 3D scanners are widely used in industrial design, engineering, and manufacturing, due to their ability to quickly and precisely capture the required data. Without these advanced 3D devices, measurements would have to be collected by outdated manual methods, which can be too costly and time-consuming. Useful during each stage of product design, testing, development, launch, and aftercare, powerful 3D scanning solutions significantly accelerate the workflow, help avoid costly mistakes, and enhance productivity.
To decide which 3D tool is best for various applications in this field, it is important to take into consideration the size and features of the object to be captured.
For instance, large industrial objects such as trucks, trains, and even planes are best captured with a versatile, stationary 3D scanner. These types of scanners require minimal supervision and interaction with the operator, yet deliver accurate results in brief periods of time.
Capture large objects in detail with a long-distance stationary 3D scanner
If you are planning to scan objects that aren’t as large as those listed above, with many intricate details that need to be captured in high resolution, it’s a good idea to proceed with a handheld 3D scanner. These 3D tools are flexible, easy to use, and capture small objects and complex geometries with the highest precision.
Create highly-accurate scans with a handheld 3D scanner
As well, ask yourself what needs to be done with the acquired 3D data. Will it be used for analysis, reverse-engineering, 3D printing, or something else? Whichever option you end up going with, it’s vital to pair it with powerful 3D scanning software, for multiple applications such as rapid prototyping, quality control, and many others. Some high-end 3D scanners are specifically designed to work with a variety of widely used CAD/CAM and 3D modeling software, offering even more possibilities for its users.
The healthcare industry has greatly benefited from integrating 3D scanning into its numerous procedures. Used for research, patient care, and creating personalized medical solutions, it has brought remarkable changes to the field. Speed, precision, and most importantly, the safety of various stationary and portable 3D scanners, have allowed medical professionals from all over the world to implement and make the most of these pioneering technologies, significantly improving existing processes while creating new ones.
Portable 3D scanning improving healthcare for patients across the world
For example, with the help of 3D scanning, healthcare practitioners can now effortlessly and quickly perform a complete body scan. This can be done with either a stationary or handheld 3D solution. Doctors can then work with the scan data to carry out research and monitor changes in body measurements that occur over time. 3D scanning has also made obtaining and comparing accurate pre-op and post-op data from patients far simpler.
Creating custom healthcare solutions, such as back braces, implants, prostheses, and even personalised wheelchairs has also become faster and easier. The required data can easily be captured by a 3D scanner, processed in specialized 3D software, and then sent for manufacture via a milling machine or a 3D printer.
Advanced 3D scanning technologies are becoming increasingly popular in forensics as well, due to their portability, flexibility, and accuracy. And professional 3D scanning solutions are now being used around the world by police forces, multiple insurance companies, and even during court hearings for presenting evidence!
3D scanning in forensics is all about portability, flexibility and accuracy. For example, a portable 3D scanner with high accuracy and the ability to scan both indoors and outdoors, even in direct sunlight, makes the job of collecting forensic data easier than ever before.
Compared to the traditional methods of data capture in forensics, including photography, tape measures, etc., 3D scanning has proven itself as an extremely powerful technology with the ability to capture highly accurate data in a matter of minutes. These advanced technologies are used for a variety of forensic applications, for example, capturing the complete scene of the crime or its separate parts before the evidence is officially collected. 3D scanning is also excellent at digitizing the recovered evidence itself, creating simulations where numerous crime scenarios can be performed, analyzed, etc.
Findings and conclusions made based on the acquired 3D scanned data are so accurate and reliable that they are often presented as evidence in court not only by police, but also by insurance companies.
Various companies offer a selection of powerful 3D scanning tools, yet only a few of them are truly revolutionary. For example, a tetherless 3D scanner with onboard 3D data processing, and an inbuilt touchscreen and battery, which captures data equally well both indoors and outdoors, even in direct sunlight.
3D scanning is used in forensics for crime-scene reconstruction, collecting evidence, and much more
Archeology and Heritage Preservation
Other fields that have implemented 3D scanning technologies into their many workflows include archeology and heritage preservation.
Creating a digital replica of an ancient artifact with a white light 3D scanner
Applications of 3D scanning in archeology and heritage preservation are truly countless. The latest 3D technologies are now more than ever before bringing history back to life and making it easily accessible to people around the world by creating highly accurate digital replicas of various artifacts. From recreating items from a tiny shard found during an excavation to creating online museums featuring hundreds of exhibits, 3D scanning technologies are radically changing the way we preserve, exhibit, and learn about archaeology and heritage preservation.
When it comes to choosing the best 3D solutions in these fields, it is important to keep the scanning environment in mind. It is highly likely that you will have to scan an artifact directly onsite, wherever that may be. Opt for 3D scanners that can operate in outdoor conditions, including under direct sunlight. Also, make sure you choose devices which can be combined with an external power source such as a portable battery pack, so that you are able to scan for hours on end wherever your application takes you. Because accurate capture is essential for the exact restoration and depiction of the object being scanned, it is worth choosing a highly precise handheld 3D scanner.
However, while portable 3D scanners are mainly suited for small to medium-sized objects, if your project requires capturing overly large objects, such as tall monuments or buildings, you can take advantage of a professional stationary LIDAR solution, which is able to capture significant amounts of data in a shorter period of time. A combination of handheld and stationary scanners will work best if you are capturing a range of different sized artifacts or a very large object with intricate sections.
Art & Design
VR game developers, Hollywood SFX artists and talented art designers are just a few of the professionals who are implementing versatile 3D scanning technologies into their workflows to inject some magic into the world of art and design.
Used for creating visually stunning special effects in movies, developing immersive, ultra-realistic VR applications, or even designing a beautiful evening gown, 3D scanning helps transform dreams into reality in a completely new way.
The choice of the best scanners to use for art and design depends on what or who needs to be captured and for what purposes. For example, if you are thinking about capturing a person to create a life-like avatar for games or VR projects, it’s better to focus on 3D solutions that are safe, easy to use, and capture data fast. A portable solution that gives you an accurate full-body scan will be your best bet.
For small items, or objects with intricate details, such as interior decor pieces or jewelry, choose a highly accurate 3D scanner that can create 3D models with vibrant colors and unparalleled precision and that isn’t afraid of hard-to-scan surfaces!
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