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4 Industries 3D-scanning will influence in 2018

Thanks to 3D scanning, modeling and printing technologies, smaller firms and organizations can create in-house prototypes before moving on to the mass production stage.

A8 Desktop 3D Printer - Image: YouTube

Globally, 3D scanning will exceed $11.1 billion in value by 2020, if we can believe recent reports. Furthermore, the 3D scanning market was responsible for $8.8 billion in revenue by the end of 2015 and should see a 4.7 percent compound annual growth rate all the way through 2020.

The manufacturing industry is the primary driver of that growth, with aerospace hot on its heels. Both these sectors have seen a need for rapid prototyping, which 3D scanning and related technologies can offer. Of course, those are not the only industries where 3D scanning is making its mark.

Archaeology and Research

Researchers from Artec 3D used a combination of 3D scanning and computed tomography to analyze and rebuild the famous Egyptian mummy Sherit — which translates to “little one.” Since the 1930s, when archaeologists first discovered the mummified child, the remains were a mystery. Researchers didn’t want to disturb the mummy and disassemble everything simply to peer within.

Unwillingness to unwrap the mummy led to a lack of knowledge. For example, no one knew the child’s age or state of health at death. The scans, however, were able to help researchers construct a model and determine both aspects. According to researchers, Sherit was a little girl aged between 4 and 6 years old. Her presumed cause of death was either dysentery or meningitis.

Naturally, it shows we can use 3D scanning not just to gather historical data, but also to learn and test various environments. Only recently, researchers used innovative scanning technology to map out the 4,500-year-old Great Pyramid.

What do these research applications mean for 2018 and beyond? 3D scanning has opened up a new world for scientists, who undoubtedly will continue using this technology in more effective and illuminating ways.

Construction and Architecture

3D scanning also has proven invaluable in construction, engineering and architecture. The tech is useful for land surveying, and remapping particular project sites. Building engineers can use it to visualize prototypes or building models before breaking ground on a project. 3D scans can even help architects come up with structural designs in a more practical way than 2D blueprints.

More importantly, 3D laser scanning is becoming much more affordable, which means it will see widespread adoption over the coming year. Building information modeling can be significantly enhanced, thanks to accurate field scans. Its use for ductwork, in particular, is incredibly promising. Because the scans allow for more precise measurements even before construction is complete, less field work and maintenance is necessary during or after a build.

Thanks to lowered onboarding costs, it’s likely more companies — especially smaller ones — will be adopting this technology or implementing it in some way into their normal processes. In the past, a single 3D scanner could cost upwards of $100,000, not including the additional hardware and software necessary to use it. Now, a FARO Focus 3D scanner costs around $60,000, including software and training.

Dentistry and Medical

Modern dentists or orthodontists <href="#handyscan">can use a handheld scanner to build a digital replica of a patient’s mouth. They can then use these scans to put together a model or 3D print of the data, allowing them better views and insights into a patient’s dental health.

3D scanning is also consistently more affordable and less time-consuming than more conventional scanning technologies. Training is also a lot less resource-intensive, and just requires simple working knowledge of a particular device, such as the aforementioned handheld scanner.

The same is true in medical and health industries. Doctors, surgeons and health professionals can use scanning equipment to assess damage, ailments or problems with their patients on the fly. And, the accuracy of these technologies can vastly improve treatments and lower health risks.

We’re likely to see more of this technology rolled out to physicians and doctors, especially on a more conventional level. For example, you may now be able to visit a regular doctor for a quick assessment of a bone break or internal injury. They could, for instance, use the scanning technology to discern damage before sending you to a hospital or prescribing temporary medication.

Manufacturing

To close this out, let’s discuss a bit about how 3D scanning and printing will completely alter the manufacturing and production industries going forward.

In the past, companies — especially smaller businesses — would have to work with third parties to get designs and prototypes made. The process involved a lengthy back-and-forth where the third party modeled, revised and reviewed all the necessary components before deciding on a final design.

Thanks to 3D scanning, modeling and printing technologies, smaller firms and organizations can create in-house prototypes before moving on to the mass production stage.

This entire process is faster, because there’s less involved, but it’s also much cheaper.

It also means new products and items will be faster to reach the open market, because companies don’t need to dedicate as much time to development and design.

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