To Use a 3D Scanning Service – or Not

3D laser scanning is the process of converting physical objects into precise digital models.  The size of the object is no problem.  You can scan a building or a small tool.  Laser scanning lets you quickly and accurately capture your object’s shape and geometries. This process supplies you with a complete digital representation of your object, which you can use for reverse engineering, quality inspection or any other activity that requires an accurate 3D representation of an object.

Benefits of 3D Laser Scanning

  • Fast, ultra-accurate results, reducing your time to market (saving you time and money!)
  • Complete measurement data of the entire surface of your object, verifying that the as-built part matches your CAD model
  • True CAD models for FEA testing of actual geometry to correct problems before parts go into production
  • CAD models to validate tooling, even when no current models exist

Profile data of the whole part so assemblies can be digitally put together, revealing inaccuracies and interferences in matched technology and expertise.3D Scanning Service

Whether comparing a physical part to its CAD model or digitizing a prototype with the intent of developing a new CAD model, 3D scanning yields high accuracy point cloud data that can be modeled and used for:

  • Toolpath creation
  • Polygonal / STL meshes
  • Composite blends
  • NURBS curves
  • NURBS surfaces
  • Tooling verification
  • And many more

The Pros and Cons of Using a 3D Scanning Service

What do you do if you have a project that requires 3D scanning, but you don’t have a 3D scanner?  Buy? Rent?  Outsource?  How do you decide?

We sell 3D scanners and also provide 3D scanning services, so we’re in a unique position to know what factors drive the decision.


Let’s face it—first and foremost with nearly every business decision you make, the cost plays a big part.  Of course, the cost is often more than just how much you pay for the equipment.  There’s also the cost of your employees’ time to learn how to use the equipment, and then to actually perform the 3D scanning for your project.  Consider, also, the cost of the time required to manipulate the file once the scanning is completed.

Do you have the internal expertise and the time to take the job to its completion?  Are you measuring, inspecting, modeling, reverse engineering?  What’s the end result and are you able to do it in-house without taking resources from other important projects?

Volume of Work

Is this a one-off project?  Or will you be doing a lot of 3D scanning in the future?

One-off projects are probably better off outsourced.  However, even if you think this project will lead to other similar projects, sometimes it’s best to outsource in the beginning until you build up sufficient 3D scanning volume to warrant an investment in equipment and resources.  Renting equipment may be a good intermediate step.

While the cost of using a 3D scanning service outsource seems to add-up if you have many projects, oftentimes using an outsource is actually less expensive — when you consider the cost and maintenance of equipment plus employee salaries and benefits packages.  This is especially true if you’re building an entirely new service in your company.

An outsourced 3D scanning department can be a real cost-saver.


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