3D CAD, 3D Printing, 3D Scanning

Can 3D Scanning Help Your Business?

By Samantha Bild on February 4, 2015

We continually witness the impact of 3D printing on the way that products are designed, engineered and manufactured after every new printer installation. Recently, several customers have expressed additional interest in 3D scanning systems. Our goal is to help answer those questions and work with industry partners to determine if 3D scanning is the right solution based on specific applications. This blog post addresses how high-resolution data can help businesses make better decisions to improve cost efficiency and time to market. ScanArm_HD

When 3D scanning first came on the market, there were issues with accuracy and versatility. Today, the technology has evolved with companies like Laser Design and FARO Technologies introducing their high-resolution data scanning systems. In fact, many companies have replaced physical check fixtures and calibers with 3D scanners.

3D scanners range in types - from articulated arms to 3D imagers. For the most part, 3D scanning follows this general process:

  1. 3D scans produce unstructured, three-dimensional data in the form of a point cloud or triangle mesh. Some scanners can even acquire color information.
  2. Scans are brought together in a reference system and merged into a complete digital model. This process is called alignment.
  3. SOLIDWORKS software is then used to clean up that data, correcting any errors in the surface structure. The result of this process produces an STL file.
  4. The STL file can then be used for multiple purposes, including exporting to a 3D printer for rapid prototyping.

3D scanners bridge the digital and physical worlds. We’ve found several applications for 3D scanners with our customers, including but not limited to:

  • Non-Destructive Inspection (NDI)
  • Quality Assurance and Quality Control (QA/QC) for manufactured parts
  • Reverse Engineering mechanical parts
  • Archiving valuable and delicate structures such as sculptures or archeological artifacts
  • Design and production of Jigs, fixtures, and bracketing for structures (when combined with 3D printing and 3D CAD)
  • Design and production of prosthetics or human-machine interface parts (when combined with 3D printing and 3D CAD)
  • Reproduction of parts (when combined with 3D printing and 3D CAD)


Our Application Engineer, Brian Metzger,  has worked on several scanning projects with Stratasys and SOLIDWORKS customers.

“3D Scanning will be a powerful tool for the future of design, engineering, and manufacturing when used with other 3D manufacturing technologies. It is clear that many companies could currently benefit from incorporating 3D scanning into their operations. It could be used to check for errors, reduce costs and speed time to market,” said Metzger.

Similar to 3D printer technology, the market for 3D scanning is still in its infancy.  Ideas for how to use 3D scanning are still emerging rapidly, and the technology continues to produce better results each year. 

To learn more about 3D scanning technology stream our webinar "The Advancements of 3D Scanning in Industrial Applications."

Stream the Webinar