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All About 3D Scanning

How it works

A 3D scanner is a device that analyzes features of an object, like shape or color, for the purpose of creating a digital model. 3D scanners deal with the shape of an object, so despite the term “scanner,” they have more in common with cameras than with 2D scanners.

Like most cameras, 3D scanners have sensors with a cone-like field of view. To make a good scan, these sensors need visual access to every surface. In the case of a complex device, this is accomplished by taking the device apart and 3D scanning its individual parts.

3D scanners gather information about the distance to the surface of an item and produce a model of the item from the collected information. This is how 3D scanners create precise three-dimensional positions of various objects.

In most scenarios, many scans are needed for the production of a complete 3D model. Each scan becomes a part of one reference system, and the reference system becomes the source of information for a 3D scan.

Building with 3D scanning

Engineers and software use the data collected by 3D scanners to build 3D models for 3D printing and other types of manufacturing. At Halo Technologies, we have provided 3D scanning services for the medical field, aviation, and automotive, as well as architecture, aerospace, gaming, and more.

Here are some of the examples of the goals that we have helped our clients accomplish with 3D scanning:

Perform reverse engineering

If a supplier sends you a part or a mold and you want to verify the part of the mold against your specifications, you can use 3D scanning to create a precise digital model to compare against your production parts, and see if it passes your quality control or not.

Facilitate rapid prototyping

3D scanning can help you introduce design improvements to an existing object. By taking a part that you would like to improve, you can use a 3D scanner to create an accurate digital model and introduce changes and tweaks to it. With that, you can create a prototype with 3D printing, without having to pay for expensive molds or use other costly or slow manufacturing methods.

Create highly-precise tooling designs

For businesses that use head tooling for part manufacturing, the tooling designs can occasionally cause problems. This can be in the form of not having a specific design for a tooling, or in the case of simply not owning a digital file for an old tooling. In both cases, 3D scanning can help by scanning an existing tooling and developing an accurate digital model.

Creating a 3D scan

3D scanners use various methods to create a scan. Different methods come with different limitations, benefits, and costs, and there are limitations as to what objects can be scanned. For example, shiny or transparent objects may pose a challenge.

Generally speaking, there are two types of technologies for 3D scanning: contact and non-contact.

Contact 3D scanning

As the name of the technology suggests, contact 3D scanners create an image of the subject via physical contact. This usually works with a precision surface plate or by support by fixtures.

A contact scanner has one of three scanning technologies:

● A carriage mechanism with inflexible arms mounted perpendicularly to each


● A flexible arm with high-precision sensors

● A combination of both

Non-contact 3D scanning

Non-contact active 3D scanners do their job by using light or radiation and then detecting the reflection from the object being scanned.

At Halo, we use two tiers of technology when working with 3D scanning projects. One is for less complicated consumer-level projects and the second for more precise industry-level projects.

Consumer-level projects: Kinect Sensors

Yes, you read that right — a Microsoft Kinect sensor, the ones made for Xbox. A Kinect sensor comes equipped with an RGB camera that saves three channels of data. The resolution of the data is 1280 by 960, which makes it possible for Kinect sensors to capture color images. An infrared transmitter in the sensor emits infrared light beams and an IR depth sensor reads them when they are reflected back to the sensor by objects that are being scanned. The beams are then converted into information based on the distance between the object and the sensor. The result is an excellent scan, accurate down to a couple millimeters.

In most cases, a consumer-grade project will be scanned with a Kinect. A common example we see here at Halo is that of a bust, where a subject comes in, we scan them, create a 3D model, and finally print a 3D sculpture in the likeness of the person.

Industry-grade projects: Handyscan 3D

For industry-grade projects, Halo uses the Handyscan 3D handheld scanner. The Handyscan is a new generation of scanner that is more portable than ever and delivers accurate, high-resolution scans with metrology-grade measurements of up to 0.0300mm.

At Halo, we have used the Handyscan 3D for projects that require minute technical detail, such as printing a custom footrest for a client’s kayak, or creating an exact digital model of a drone to design custom parts. More on both of these examples below.

VXmodel software

To interpret each scan, we use VXmodel software. VXmodel us allows to finalize the data obtained from scanning an object directly into any CAD software or 3D printing software, making the process of 3D scanning work with a manufacturing or designing workflow easy and seamless.

Our clients can use 3D scanning into VXmodel software for reference models, inspection verifications, and usable CAD files. A reference model uses basic dimensions obtained from the scanned data to compare the data to a general measurement.

An inspection verification model uses the data from the scanned model and post-processes it in the software, allowing you to use the model to ensure matching quality specifications during the quality control process, as was the case in the aircraft windows case (below).

A usable CAD file is best when there is no existing digital model, which is often the case with unavailable out-of- production parts, be it a part for a drone, kayak or a custom part for a yacht. The CAD file can later be modified and edited according to the needs of a client.

Examples of Halo’s 3D scanning projects

Creating of out-of- production drone parts

The owner of an out-of- production drone came to Halo with a need for custom parts. He uses his drone for work, and had reached a dilemma: he needed custom parts, but this was complicated by the fact that the drone was out of production. The client brought his drone into Halo for scanning. The team made a complete scan of the drone and developed an accurate digital model, with which the client was able to design and print custom parts for his drone.

Manufacturing a kayak footrest with custom modifications

3D scanning doesn’t just allow you to replicate parts that are hard to find. It also facilitates modifying parts quickly and inexpensively, as was the case with the following Halo client. He brought in a damaged kayak footrest. The footrest was damaged and needed replacing, but the part was out of production. The Halo team scanned developed a digital file of the footrest, with which the client was able to create personalized modifications. Then, Halo printed him his new custom footrest out of ABS filament, and he was able to outfit his kayak with his new footrest. In this case, the client ended up with a print made from the 3D scan. Since this was for just one part, 3D printing saved him money, compared to injection molding or other manufacturing methods.

Quality control for aircraft windows

Halo was approached by an aerospace client, who needed to verify that their custom- produced aircraft windows met the required specifications. Halo scanned the molds the client used to make the windows and then did post-processing on the scan file to analyze the data. To be approved for production, the window mold had to be within 30/1000s of an inch of required specifications. Post-processing of the scan revealed that the mold did not meet the requirements for production, and the client had to create a new mold.

This is an example of how 3D scanning can save time and money. Traditionally, you’d order a mold, use it to create parts, and then quality control the parts. With that, you could come to the conclusion that the parts are defective, and that the mold is the problem.

With 3D scanning, you do not have to waste time and money creating multiple parts or performing quality control on them. You can immediately inspect the mold and decide whether it meets your standards or not, which can lead to huge savings and speed up the production and manufacturing process.

3D scanning with Halo Technologies

3D scanning brings a lot of opportunities and advantages to manufacturing, prototyping, engineering, and quality control. If you have a device that you can’t order replacement parts for, you can 3D scan the part and use the 3D image and a 3D printer to create a new part. You can also prepare more accurate designs, prototypes and use 3D scanners for quality control purposes.

No matter what your goals, our team at Halo can help you accomplish them with our 3D scanning services. Contact us today or stop by our office in downtown West Palm Beach to open a conversation about how 3D scanning can help you.

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