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What are the business applications of 3D scanning technologies?

The pace of development of applications for 3D scanning technologies suggests that we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg.

3d printer on table
Image: Pixabay

Forecasts for the 3D scanning market are $10 billion by 2024. Expansion of 3D scanning applications across many industries will drive this growth.

How can a 3D scanner help you in your industry? Read on to learn about the business applications of 3D scanning technologies.

3D Scanning Technologies

Creating 3D models of three-dimensional real objects is the special talent of 3D scanning technology. A 3D scanner takes pictures of the object. These multiple images fuse together and create a three-dimensional image for viewing on a computer screen.

This three-dimensional image can rotate. The views of the object from various angles give a very precise representation of the geometry of the object. Minute triangles or polygons map the surface of the object.

Designers use the three-dimensional scan in business applications to store, design, model and much more.

Quality Control

The precision of 3D scanning makes it ideal for quality control operations. Manufacturers who need precise checks of manufactured goods and components can rely on 3D scanners to pick up any flaws or errors in manufacture.

When quality is important but speed is also of the essence, 3D scanning comes into its own. The 3D scanners can be incorporated into the manufacturing workflow. It can identify any component that doesn’t conform to the required tolerances and reject it.

Wind Tunnel Testing

The automotive, aircraft and nautical engineering industries have to carry out testing of the dynamics of their designs. This involves testing actual vehicles, aircraft or ships. Alternatively, replicas can be made for testing purposes.

Both of these methods are extremely expensive and time taking. Creating replicas of vehicles, aircraft, and boats is a highly skilled task. It takes many years of training and experience to do it successfully.

3D scanning of full-size vehicles can provide the initial shapes and measurements. After editing on computer-aided design software, the replica can be 3D printed. This model can then be accurately tested in a wind tunnel.

The 3D scanned images can also undergo simulated testing by computer applications. This is so much safer and practical than it would be with real vehicles. The result is great leaps forward in design, vehicle safety, and speed of testing.

Engineering and Design

Measurement is an important component of many engineering activities. 3D scanning can provide a very accurate measurement of objects in an engineering context. The process is much more rapid than the alternative physical measurement methods.

Prototyping, often a vital stage in the design and manufacturing process, is simplified with the use of SD scanning and 3D printing technologies. A rapidly produced prototype can be created, tested, modified, and approved this way.

3D printing can provide a useful way to produce components or products on a just in time basis. Add a 3D scanning capability, and replication is also a viable option.

Medicine

In the medical sector, 3D scanning has found several innovative opportunities. Prosthetics are produced by accurate 3D scans of limbs. The 3D printed prosthetics are low cost, high comfort, and deliverable almost anywhere in the world.

Healthcare solutions such as wheelchairs, implants, and back braces can all be accurately based on 3D scans of patient’s bodies. Using a handheld 3D scanner, precise measurements can be achieved without invasive methods. The images can be sent to manufacturers who produce medical devices.

Heritage

The preservation of artifacts has been a challenge for archaeologists and museums.

On the one hand, some artifacts are extremely rare and delicate. They would have a limited life span if they were allowed to be handled or even exhibited in public museums. On the other hand, there is a public interest in enjoying the learning from these objects.

How can the money be raised for the preservation and research into these archeological finds if they are hidden away from the public? 3D scanning offers a solution.

Scanned artifacts can be studied and enjoyed without any risk. The images can be shared as high-resolution images or even handled as 3D printed objects.

Architecture

Since the advent of computer-aided design (CAD) architecture as moved away from the old pen and paper drawings to a fully technology-enabled design world. 3D scanning is a very big part of this.

Scanning a building to produce high-resolution three-dimensional images helps with architectural surveying. Measurement, visualization, and integration with CAD can all be done rapidly and much more cheaply than with traditional techniques.

The approach works well with exteriors and interiors. Taking a 3D scan an architect can produce drawings by reverse engineering for manufacturers of internal fixtures.

Education

3D scanning is making a place for itself in education and even in the classrooms of our kids. Integration of 3D scanning and 3D printing means even kids can create, scan, and print. These technologies are the natural successor to clay modeling and design technology lessons.

Computer Games

The computer game and movie industries have used successive technological innovations into their craft. CGI transformed the industry, allowing special effects to be more spectacular and yet easily produced.

Incorporating 3D scanning technologies have helped both these art forms to create even more visually stunning products. Virtual reality worlds, detailed textures, and lifelike effects have been enabled by 3D scanning.

More to Come

The pace of development of applications for 3D scanning technologies suggests that we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg. There’ll be lower costs and further technological development ahead. There’s much more to come for 3D scanning.

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