From quality engineers inspecting a massive new airplane to corporations testing out a new widget, 3D scanner services are in high demand in 2016. Whether they need to meet regulatory burdens or simply inspect a new product before launch, a number of industries now rely on 3D scanning. The automotive industry, aerospace industry, the semiconductor industry, manufacturers of medical devices, and numerous other fields rely on these technologies to protect both their bottom line and consumers.
And, off the record, for a fair amount of reverse engineering.
To keep up with high demand, 3D scanner services offer a number of inspection and metrology equipment. So what types of industrial 3D scanning technology is being used today? Three particular types of scanners are most widely used.
3D Laser Scanners
Although the average consumer only knows about laser scanners in terms of 3D printers, this technology provides a fast and convenient way to inspect objects. Although the technology can vary between 3D scanner services, most use some form of laser triangulation. These devices scan a laser across an object while a sensor picks up the reflected laser light. Using trigonometric triangulation, scanner software creates a 3D model of the object’s surfaces.
Main Advantages: Not only is the resulting data accurate, but there are a number of highly portable 3D laser scanners available, making this a fast and convenient form of 3D scanning.
White or Blue Light 3D Scanners
Also known as structured light scanners (which also use trigonometric triangulation) these scanners project a grid pattern onto an object. Cameras then measure the edges of this pattern and create a 3D model. However, unlike laser scanners, these devices use white or blue lightwaves.
Main Advantages: Although not as portable or fast as laser scanning, blue light scanners are generally more accurate and offer higher resolutions.
Industrial CT Scanning Technology
Very few metrology and 3D scanner services offer digital radiology services. Industrial CT scanning, or computed tomography, is similar to the medical MRIs performed by radiologists. X-rays are either passed through an object or reflected off of it. The data is then fed through software that creates a digital 3D model from thousands of two-dimensional X-ray cross sections. For anyone who wants internal scan data, as opposed to surface data only, industrial CT scanning services are the only option. Even though CT scanning is neither portable nor fast, it provides focal sizes of just a few microns.
Main Advantages: Not only is it incredibly accurate, but it’s the only non-destructive 3D scanning technology that allows engineers to look inside of an object.