A Look at How 3D Scanning Is Changing the World

By Adrian Cruce

The popularity of 3D scanning and 3D printing has exploded over the past few years with individuals and businesses looking for ways to utilize the technology to their benefit. Due to this increased popularity of this technology and the proliferation of the machines that use it, 3D is starting to shape the world in many ways in different industries.

Understanding 3D Scanning

Most people ask the question, “What is 3D scanning?” expecting a complicated answer. The truth is that it is relatively simple. 3D scanning uses a camera or lasers to capture a detailed image of an object from every perceivable angle. These images are then fed into digital converters that turn them into 3D models. These models can then be used to understand the object or be printed using 3D printers.

Uses in Medicine

A major area where 3D scanning is being used is in medicine. 3D scanners are used to capture images of a human body. These images can then be used in a number of customizations and applications. One area that readily comes to mind is the development of prosthetics. Companies have come up with software solutions that use a scan of a person’s leg and their choice of footwear to develop customized prosthetics. In addition to rapidly producing these prosthetics, this technology has lowered the cost of such prosthetics.

Media and Entertainment

3D scanners are being used in the entertainment industry to build models and much more realistic worlds. These scans are being used to create models for video games and virtual entertainment. These models and worlds can be created rapidly by scanning real-world objects and locations. Also, entertainment companies can now prototype and create sets, props, and costumes in hours instead of the days or weeks it used to take.

The Engineering Landscape

3D scanning is being used massively in different types of engineering settings, and for good reason. In structural engineering, 3D scanning can be used in surveying construction sites, design modeling, and layout design. In some cases, 3D scanning is being used to navigate robotics through tricky situations such as through partially-collapsed building to assess damage. Engineers are also using 3D scanning with AI to identify unsafe areas which helps reduce on-site injuries.

3D scanning is also allowing engineering companies to develop models off-site, which can then be printed on-site. This means site visits by those doing the designs are minimized which can save companies a lot of money.

Refined Manufacturing Processes

One of the biggest advantages of 3D scanning is its accuracy, and the manufacturing industry has taken note. Now, manufacturing companies are using scans to ensure the products that leave their warehouses are of the highest quality. This increases product uniformity and reduces manufacturing costs by reducing recalls caused by product defects.

3D scanning is also being used to make product improvements easier. Manufacturers can scan a past model or iteration of a product, modify it inside CAD software, test it on there, and then print it. This gives manufacturers greater confidence in the improved products they release.

3D scanning, when combined with 3D printing, will change the way the world works. 3D scanning touches all industries, helping improve their processes, efficiency, and output.