A 3D scanner is a device that analyses a real world object or environment to collect data on its shape and possibly its appearance (e.g. colour). The collected data can then be used to construct digital 3-dimensional models.
There are many different technologies that can be used for 3D scanning, but each technology comes with its own limitations, advantages, and cost. One of the problems 3D scanning confronts is with the optical devices i.e. optical technologies confront many difficulties with shiny, mirroring or transparent objects.
3D scanner enables fast, accurate and automated 3D scanning for industrial applications. These 3D scanners are much faster and easier to use than traditional Coordinate Measuring Machines (CMMs), inspection guages, or calipers.
The basic principle is to use a 3D scanner to collect data about a theme. The theme can be:
- an object
- an environment (such as a room)
- a person
Some 3D scanner can collect simultaneously shape and colour data. A 3D scanned colour surface is called a texture i.e. the outer appearance.
The 3D scans are compatible with Computer Aided Design (CAD) software and also 3D printing, after a little preparation on the computer. A 3D scan can give a lot of information about the design of an object, in a process called Reverse Engineering.
3D scanners are powerful tools for professionals in several industries, such as automotive, aeronautics, dental, jewelry, video games, special effects and animation movies.
The 3D scanners are classified into 2 categories,
- Short Range 3D scanners
- Long Range 3D scanners
Short-range 3D scanners typically utilize a laser triangulation or Structured Light Technology.
Long-range 3D scanners come in two major forms,
- Pulse Based
- Phase shift
These both are well suited for large objects such as buildings, structures, aircraft and military vehicles.
Phase Shift 3D scanners also work well for medium range scan needs such as automobiles, large pumps and industrial equipment.
Benefits of this scanner are,
- 3D scan millions of points in a single scan – up to 1 million points per second
- Large scanning area up to 1000 meters
- Good accuracy and resolution based on object size
- Non – contact to safely scan all types of objects