Collecting 3D Data by 3D Scanning
A 3D scanner is a device that can be hand-held or stationary. It analyzes a physical object, building, or environment to collect data about its shape. The collected data, called a point cloud, can then be used to construct digital 3D models.
There are many different 3D scanning technologies, each having specific limitations, advantages, and costs. There are contact scanners and non-contact scanners. Here at CAD / CAM Services, we use portable non-contact scanners that enable us to scan nearly any object no matter how large, how small or how fragile.
We have experience collecting 3D data for many different applications, from the gaming industry to industrial design, reverse engineering and prototyping. 3D scanners are useful for a wide variety of applications.
Laser scanning is an effective, non-contact way to collect 3D data. Using a hand-held laser scanner, we pass a laser line over the surface of an object in order to record three-dimensional information. The surface data is captured by a camera sensor mounted in the laser scanner which records accurate dense 3D points in space, allowing for very accurate data without ever touching the object.
Laser scanning is a great option for people who need 3D data of an object but would prefer that the object not is touched, such as for documentation of important artifacts. This doesn’t mean that you can never laser scan a part with many geometric features or that you can’t digitize a plane (an entire plane can be digitized, believe us – we’ve done it!) or even a sculpture. These are just rules of thumb.
Other methods of collecting 3D data include white light scanning, CT scanning, and photo image based systems. These technologies are being utilized more frequently in the field of 3D scanning and new applications are being discovered every day.
Accuracy in 3D Scanning
Because we want to collect the most accurate data possible, there are several things that we caution our customers about:
- Bright light sources in the area, including the sun, can cause inaccuracies in scanned data.
- Very reflective materials generally do not scan well.
- The scanned object must remain fixed during scanning
- If you need hard to reach/impossible to see internal data, you should consider CT scanning.