What Is 3D Scanning & How Does a 3D Scanner Work? Your Ultimate Guide
3D scanning is a powerful tool that is used to support the innovative nature of 3D printing.
When it comes to projects that have to utilise 3D printing, not all of them need a 3D scanner to accomplish their goals. Some 3D printing projects have pre-purchased models made from 3D that enable them to print a project straightaway.
However, in the case where a project needs a digital copy of a model using a real-life stimulus or object, 3D scanners are a quick way to get the job done.
If you’re not using a 3D scanner, 3D printers will need digital models built from scratch by using design programs. This will involve recording measurements from physical objects and using 3D blueprints to work from. Not only this, but you have to be competent with high end 3D design programs.
3D Scanning Explained
3D laser scanning makes use of non-destructive, non-contact technology. It is used to capture the dimensions of physical objects using lines of lasers.
Laser scanners will create what are known as point clouds of data by tracing the surface of an object. 3D laser scanning makes it easy to capture the size and shapes of physical objects and transfer them into a computer environment.
The dimensions of the objects are then rendered into a three-dimensional version. The scanners are able to render very exact details and even recreate freeform shapes. This allows them to make point clouds that are very accurate to the original object.
This type of technology is well suited to contoured services as well as items that have intricate geometries. Because of this, they need to use a huge amount of data to make sure the representation is fully accurate.
Using standard methods of measuring items can be difficult and fairly impractical.
How Can 3D Data Be Collected?
There are various ways to create 3D scans. The most utilised methods are known as digitising and laser scanning. With laser scanning, the line of the laser goes over the surface of objects and records information in 3D.
The data gained from the surface is captured by camera sensors in the laser scanner. This will make 3D points in space very accurate, enabling the gathering of data from an object without even making contact.
Laser scanners are also not limited to one type. There are various forms of laser scanners exist, including patch, line and spherical.
The other most used methods of scanning 3D objects is called digitising. Another form of 3D data collection, this type of scanning uses uses physical touch via probe in order to gain information about an object.
A ball probe or point lets users collect data points physically from an object in a given space. Depending on the object being scanned, this can be preferable to sweeping many points of data in any one time.
This type of scanning is also much more accurate in gaining data from geometric objects, but is less suited to freeform shapes.
The main advantage over digitising is that precision is high and can be used for reverse engineering situations.
Some other methods used to collect 3-D data are white light scanning and image-based applications. These are types of technology are slowly becoming more and more used in the realm of 3D scanning. Their uses are finding new applications day by day.
What Exactly Are The Limitations Of 3D Scanning?
With the technologies behind 3D scanning growing, capturing objects both indoors and outdoors, regardless of the time of day, is becoming easier.
The technology is getting better and better, and is now allowing for the capture of very small or very large objects. Some scanning equipment is portable enough to be taken to different facilities.
When looking at items on the larger side of the scale, there are companies that have scanned airplanes, monuments, submarines and other sizeable objects.
And of course, this technology has been able to scan items in the mid range, including consumer products. Some companies have been able to capture the dimensions of coins and even micro textures, such as fingerprints.
Regardless of the object that you choose to scan, there is most likely a way to scan them efficiently.
The Process Behind 3-D Scanning
The process behind 3D scanning starts with the object that is to be scanned placed onto the digitiser bed. The software behind the scanning process moves the laser probe so it is above the item to be scanned.
The laser is then projected onto the surface, while two cameras and their sensors record how the distance and shape changes via laser in three dimensions.
The resulting data from the object becomes a point cloud appearing within the scanning software. As the laser continues to move around, it will capture the surface of the object in 3-D, with each point being added to the cloud in real time.
The actual process is surprisingly quick, and is able to gather 750,000 points every second.
Application And Model Choice
After a cloud of data has been formed, they are put together and can be used to create a 3D representation of the scanned object. They can then be processed with software applications depending on what the item has been scanned for.
Capturing Data With A 3D Scanner
The technology of 3D scanning makes it easy to recreate even the most complex objects in real time.
Rather than measuring items manually, using a 3D scanner is an incredible way to reverse engineer items and even can be used to create modifications and existing objects by gathering data and editing using software applications.
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