3D scanning is becoming an increasingly popular technology, with the industry valued at $3.72 billion in 2020. That figure is expected to climb to a colossal $16.66 billion by 2030.
As more businesses embrace scanning technology, manufacturers have introduced various types of 3D scanners to meet diverse scanning needs. The best 3D scanners today are incredibly advanced and capable of truly impressive feats.
In today’s post, we’ll outline some of the ways today’s 3D scanners work. By understanding these scanning technologies, it should be easier to settle on a scanner that’s capable of delivering the results you’re after.
What Is a 3D Scanner?
A 3D scanner is a device that captures the geometry of an object and records it as data. This data can then be used to create a digital model of the object or to recreate the object in another medium.
There are many different types of 3D scanners, but they all share one common goal: creating a digital representation of an object.
How the Best 3D Scanners Work
3D scanners use different technologies that can be used to create three-dimensional models with a scanner. When choosing a scanning technology, it is important to consider the specific needs of your project.
Here are the five top scanning approaches used today.
Laser triangulation is the most common type of three-dimensional scanning. It works by projecting a laser beam onto an object and measuring the time it takes for the light to return to the scanner. By knowing the distance between the scanner and the object, as well as the angle at which the laser was projected, the software can calculate the point on the object that was scanned.
Laser triangulation has a lot of advantages, like being very accurate, being able to scan a lot of different surfaces, and being cheap.
However, this technology does have some limitations. For example, it does not work well on objects with shiny or reflective surfaces, and it can be difficult to capture small details with this type of scanner.
Laser triangulation is used in a variety of industries, including automotive and aerospace manufacturing, as well as medical and dental imaging. It is also commonly used to create three-dimensional models for printing.
Another common 3D scanning technology is structured light. This technique uses a projector to shine a pattern of light onto the object being scanned. By analyzing the deformation of the pattern, the software can calculate the point on the object that was scanned.
Like laser triangulation, structured light scanning is incredibly accurate. This scanning approach is also able to scan surfaces with complex textures.
However, structured light scanning can be more expensive than other technologies, and it can be difficult to use on large objects.
Structured light is often used in industrial applications where high accuracy is important, such as quality control and reverse engineering.
Some top-quality 3D scanners apply photogrammetry. With this technology, a series of photos are taken of the object from various angles. By analyzing the differences between the images, the software can calculate the point on the object that was scanned.
Photogrammetry is often used for mapping and surveying applications, as well as in forensics and crime scene investigations. It can also be used to create three-dimensional models for printing.
While photogrammetry is a powerful tool, it does have some limitations. First, the object being scanned must be stationary. In addition, the photos must be taken from different angles, which can be difficult to achieve if the object is large or complex.
Contact-Based 3D Scanning
Modern 3D scanners also use contact-based scanning technology. This approach uses a probe or stylus to touch the object being scanned. By measuring the displacement of the probe, the software can calculate the point on the object that was scanned.
This type of 3D scanning is best for objects with complicated shapes or delicate surfaces.
Contact-based scanners are often portable and easy to use. With the best scanner you have, this method of scanning can also be fairly quick.
However, this technology does have some drawbacks. For example, it can be difficult to scan large objects with a probe, and the scanning process can be time-consuming.
The final 3D scanning technology we will discuss is laser pulse. This laser technology approach is based on the Time of Flight (TOF) of a laser beam.
A laser pulse is shone onto the object being scanned, and the time it takes for the beam to reflect back is measured. By analyzing the TOF data, the software can calculate the point on the scanned object.
Laser pulse scanning is a relatively new technology, but it has already become popular in a variety of industries. It is very good at scanning things that are hard to get to, like inside pipes or engine blocks.
Laser pulse scanning is also able to scan a variety of different surfaces, including those with complex textures. However, this technology does have some drawbacks. For example, it can be expensive and requires specialized software and hardware.
Choosing the Right Scanning Approach for You
As you can see, there are a variety of different ways that the best 3D scanners can be used to create three-dimensional models. Each approach has its own advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, the best approach for you will depend on your specific needs and application.
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