What Is 3D Laser Scanning?
The Science Fiction author Arthur C. Clarke once famously said, "Any advanced form of technology is indistinguishable from magic." We've been seeing an explosion of new technologies in the 21st Century that would've seemed like magic even 10 years ago.
3D scanning is one of these emerging new technologies. It's actually been around since the 1960s, but technological innovations of the 21st Century have allowed this discipline to really come into its own.
That's one of the reasons 3D laser scanning has been blowing up, recently. 3D laser scanning is projected to be a $5.9 billion industry by 2023.
But what is laser scanning, exactly? Why has it been getting so popular recently?
Let's learn some more about laser scanning, to find out how it can help you and your business.
What Is 3D Laser Scanning?
3D laser scanning is a process where an object or physical space is analyzed for its structural properties or possibly its aesthetic appearance. This data is stored in a database to be used for future digital modeling.
There are many different kinds of laser scanners out there. Some are more similar to a 2D flatbed scanner. Others are handheld 3d laser scanners, which allow for closer and more detailed scanning.
Laser scanning can be used for all kinds of applications. They're used extensively by the entertainment industry, for one thing. They're used for everything from motion capture for CGI to scanning an object or environment for virtual reality.
There are plenty of more practical applications for laser scanning, as well. They are frequently used for quality control. They are also used for rapid prototyping, letting you quickly get a mockup boardroom ready as quickly and painlessly as possible.
How 3D Laser Scanning Works
For traditional laser scanning, an object is first placed on the base of a flatbed scanner. The object then has a laser probe passed over it, Two additional sensors detect the disruption of the laser. X, Y, and Z coordinates are monitored, creating a 3D model of the object.
All of this data is compiled into a "point cloud." It doesn't take prohibitively long for this model to be put together. A 3D laser scanner can capture up to 750,000 data points per second. After all of the points are gathered, they're modeled into a 3D representation of the object.
If an object is being scanner for engineering purposes, you can check the model for verification as well. It can be checked against the designer's CAD data. The inaccuracies are color-coded, showcasing any discrepancies between the physical model and the CAD diagram.
Laser scanning is also the quickest and easiest way to reverse engineer an existing product. Specialized CAD software is often used to interpret the 3D scanning data and translate it directly into a format suitable for 3D printers.
What Can You Do With 3D Laser Scanning Data?
Laser scanning isn't just useful for 3D printing. There are all manner of applications for the data gathered in laser scanning.
One application of 3D modeling data is for documentation and archival purposes. There are untold possibilities for detailed physical modeling data. It translates all of an object's physical characteristics into hard data, making it infinitely easier to craft documentation about that object.
Laser scanning removes the guesswork from physical descriptions. Having all of an object's data at your disposal makes things like writing product descriptions or technical specs easy and intuitive.
Laser scanning data is also highly useful for analyzing an object. You can compare an object against its CAD blueprints, for one thing. This will show any inaccuracies that might have occurred during the manufacturing process.
Laser scanning's analytical abilities are also useful for reverse engineering an object. This has a myriad of applications.
You could scan each part of an object, for instance. This could be useful for everything from generating assembly instructions to measuring an object's physical properties.
You could even use the 3D laser scanning data to convert the object into a 2D schematic. This can save you quite a bit of time, money, energy, and resources in the long run.
Finally, 3D laser scanning data is highly useful for physical modeling. This gives you the opportunity to assess how an object will perform in physical space before committing to large-scale manufacturing.
It also has applications in the media and entertainment worlds. Once you have a 3D scan of an object, you're able to translate that data into a virtual model. This means you can put real-world objects into your virtual simulations, whether that be a video game or a CGI movie.
Considering the rise of augmented reality in recent years, this virtual modeling has applications outside of the entertainment industry, as well. You could render a 3D model of an object you're selling, for instance. Then you could host that model on your eCommerce website, letting users audition an object in their physical space before committing to a purchase.
Not even the sky is the limit when it comes to the potential of 3D laser scanning. We have yet to barely scratch the surface of what this futuristic technology is capable of. It truly is almost like magic.
Just think of what the next few years could have in store?
Ready To Integrate 3D Laser Scanners Into Your Workflow?
No industry will be untouched by the implications of 3D laser scanning and modeling in the next few years. Everyone from entertainment companies to online businesses are integrating in-depth, detailed 3D scanning and modeling into their business models.
If you're ready to find out how you can work laser scanning into your organization, check out our full line of 3D laser scanners today!