What Can 3D Scanning Do for You?
If you’re in manufacturing, engineering or nearly any type of product design, development or testing, 3D scanning can save you time, money and material. How? Tests show that using 3D scanning as part of the manufacturing process, you’ll achieve higher quality, better fitting parts, with lower manufacturing costs. Some of our customers have told us that they’ve been able to reduce the cost of a typical manufacturing design cycle by as much as 75% by using 3D scanning.
The Manufacturing Cycle
Let’s consider the typical manufacturing cycle for a new product. It starts with an idea, which is given to the design department. Design creates a prototype, which then goes to engineering for testing and tweaking. From there it goes to production, through quality control, and ultimately the product is distributed. We’ve simplified this process, because, at any stage, the cycle may backtrack to a previous stage, to correct design flaws.
Original Idea to Final Production
Often the basis for the original idea comes from an already existing physical object. For instance, an innovator may hit upon the proverbial “better mouse-trap,” and use an existing design as the basis for improvements. Before 3D scanning, a designer would “mock-up” the design in clay or foam. 3D scanning can reduce the time needed for this initial mock-up, by creating a digital file or point-cloud of the original object which can then be modified and used to design the new product in 3D CAD.
Other ways the 3D scanning can benefit your company including:
- The need for designers to design around or fit their design to existing objects. Automobile customization is one example that springs to mind. By scanning the original part, the mating parts can be incorporated into the design, resulting in parts that fit better on a consistent basis.
- Reverse engineering is another situation that can be made easier by 3D scanning. In this situation, an existing manufactured part is scanned and the resulting point cloud is used create a CAD model. By utilizing reverse engineering, new designs can incorporate and improve upon engineering optimization already inherent to the manufactured part.
- 3D scanning is also useful for prototyping. Most commonly, 3D scanning is used to reduce the number of prototype design cycles required. A part that has been designed using 3D scan point cloud data often requires only one prototype since it has been designed using precise measurements from the physical world. 3D scanning can also be used in combination with prototyping to scale physical objects.
- By using 3D scan point cloud data, a physical object can be translated directly to the engineering phase of a project, thereby greatly impacting the speed with which the product can be brought to market. 3D scan data is often used to perform CFD, CAE, FEA and other engineering analysis on objects that have been manufactured and then physically modified.
- When you need to capture changes to tooling or parts that occur on the shop floor, 3D scanning is a great technology. Tooling is often “hand-tuned” to achieve the final look and finish of a part. By using 3D scanning, the hand modifications can be transferred from tool to tool, thus ensuring that parts match after production.
- Another use for 3D scanning is to analyze tool wear during production; 3D scanning can even help predict or eliminate tool failure. However, if a tool does fail, a 3D scan point could be used to recreate the optimized part.
- 3D Scanning is a non-contact technology, so it can be used to determine the “as-built” condition of parts after they have been manufactured, enabling quick inspection of the overall shape and size and providing quick detection of troublesome issues.
- Finally, 3D scanning can be used along with statistical analysis software to maintain and predict quality in manufacturing.
3D scanning can speed the entire manufacturing cycle from design through production and ensure that the final product is in the spec, saving time and money in the process. The efficiencies of 3D scanning are just one more tool to ensure competitive manufacturing processes.