3D Digitizing Service and the Design Process – The Role of Laser Scanning in Design

3D Digitizing Service and the Design Process – The Role of Laser Scanning in Design

One of greatest hindrances to the manufacturing process is a lengthy design process. With release dates on the line and competition at its heels, a company that spends long periods of time designing its products isn’t always rewarded for product quality. To truly compete in marketplace, a company that produces its own products needs a way to abbreviate the design process without sacrificing quality. One method that companies use toward this end is laser scanning. Laser scanning is traditionally associated with the engineering/manufacturing business, and there’s a good reason why: a laser scanner’s ability to capture an object’s precise physical data and express it as editable data models removes trial and error from the engineering process while delivering more accurate results than traditional surveying methods.

Whether a company buys its own scanning equipment or outsources its scanning needs to a laser scanning service-also known as a 3D digitizing service-it receives the same end product: computerized files of a scanning subjects data points that can be expressed in the form of polygon mesh models, surface models and solid CAD models. Polygon mesh models-also known as mesh models-are used mainly for archival and visualization purposes due their “heavy” data sets that are relatively un-editable. Surface models are more editable than mesh models, but are only editable at their surface, making them ideal for designing artistic and organic shapes. Solid CAD models are the most editable models, and can be directly manufactured from due to their incorporation design intent.

Depending on the nature of their designs, some companies benefit from one data model more than another. But four benefits that laser scanning brings to the design process for all companies are: an increase in the effectiveness of working with complex parts and shapes; the ability to easily design a product that fits another company’s part; the ability to easily update an outdated CAD model; and the ability to machine older, out of production parts from their CAD file. Ultimately, these benefits pertain to an abbreviation of the design process that doesn’t compromise quality of design, and, in turn, a company’s ability to handle more projects at once without compromising timeliness or quality.

The benefits of laser scanning to engineering/manufacturing endeavors are obvious. But many companies struggle with the decision of whether to purchase their own scanners our outsource their scanning needs to a 3D digitizing service. As one might expect, commercial grade scanners can be expensive, with tripod models easily costing in excess of $75,000. Outsourcing to 3D laser scanning services, on the other hand, is extremely affordable. In most cases, the value of purchasing scanning equipment depends on how often the equipment is needed. If a company needs laser scanning on a daily or weekly basis, purchasing scanning equipment is justifiable. But when a company’s scanning needs are more occasional, purchasing scanners can lead to owning technology that falls out of date without having received proper use.