The Smithsonian has been scanning artifacts for a while now. Why? To archive them and then make them available to the public to print out.
3D scanning is already a useful technology outside the commercial sphere. Universities and institutions have been willing to spend big money to bolster their research through 3D scanning techniques. Fields like archeology, paleontology, geology, and others use the technology to better visualize and analyze real-world objects.
Those machines hadn’t entered the commercial sphere due to prohibitive costs. Now that’s no longer true. With the advancement in sensor technology through the miniaturization of mobile technology, 3D scanning is cheaper and easier to use than ever.
I mean, consider this desktop 3D scanner that looks like something out of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It’s sleek and it doesn’t require the sacrifice of your firstborn to buy it.
But why do you need a 3D scanner for your business? Here’s why.
1. It Makes 3D Printing That Much More Useful
Someday machines will replicate themselves. For a time, we’ve used machines to build machines. Now, with the combination of 3D scanning and 3D printing, we can use machines to replicate machines.
Before 3D scanning, you needed to create objects using software. There are plenty of templates to choose from on Thingiverse. They’re free and easy to print.
What if you wanted to start prototyping from scratch? You would need to understand 3D modeling software well-enough to begin prototyping. With a 3D scanner, you don’t need to be proficient at 3D modeling anymore.
You could use the 3D scanner in a variety of ways. You could scan various parts and then put them together in a software program and then print them. This would allow you to visualize these parts put together as a whole in the virtual world first.
You could use other materials to model your parts. This could include clay, polymers, metals, wood, etc.
You could take existing objects, scan them and then modify in the virtual world. At that point, you could then print the modified version and test it.
2. Scanners Are Getting Smaller
You can already buy a handheld 3D scanner. This means you can travel with your scanner without having to pack it up bulky equipment when on the go.
This will allow you to scan larger objects and scan places traditional scanners can’t. These are powerful machines capable of scanning any surface and replicating high-texture. Really, you could scan anything, even your dog if you wanted to 3D print them or put them in a virtual simulation.
3. Put Your Products in VR and AR Simulations
VR and AR are the future of visualization. With augmented reality, we’ll be able to place virtual objects in physical space to see how they function and react.
VR already does this same thing with virtual spaces.
What if you could scan your prototype and place it in a VR simulation. You could test your product for free in a physics simulation. You could see if it bounces, if it breaks, and if it’s dangerous. In VR, you control the environment.
Are you seeking funding for your prototype? Is it a dangerous product you wouldn’t be able to show investors in person without putting their safety at risk? Why not 3D scan the object or its parts and put it inside a 3D VR simulation? You’ll be able to enhance your pitch and make it more likely investors will give you all their money.
4. Soon They’ll Be in Your Smartphone
Now, just like cameras in smartphones, 3D scanning in a phone won’t be as effective as a full-fledged 3D scanner. Yet, for something that fits in the palm of your hand and does thousands of other things, even a decent scanner in your phone is an amazing feat of engineering.
Caltech has already developed a laser chip that can determine the size and distance of any object. It measures the laser light reflected back.
I don’t know for sure this will end up in smartphones, but I really see no reason why not. It’s only a millimeter in size and that’s as small as any mobile phone photo-sensor. I could see this being used to enhance augmented reality in phones.
We’ll soon be able to replace real-world objects with virtual objects. Maybe this is dangerous. How will we know the difference between what’s real and what’s not?
Thankfully, the fidelity of AR is too low right now to worry me. So, I’m all for enhancing my world through AR and 3D scanning.
5. Find and Monitor Machine Changes
The naked eye isn’t always capable of seeing changes in machine parts. What if your machine is compromised because one part contains microfractures. The best scanners and software can help you find those fractures so your machine continues to operate properly and safely.
You can use 3D printing to monitor changes in your prototype as you test it. Scan the product, test it, scan it again and compare to see changes.
6. Ensure Product Integrity During Distribution
Quality assurance can be costly. It takes many man-hours to inspect each product for viability and integrity during the shipping process. What if there were a way to quickly and accurately asses the condition of products as they moved between distribution centers?
3D scanning is your tool.
You can scan the product at one end and scan it again at the other. You can then compare scans through cloud software.
If you’re noticing damage through your distribution process, you can use machine learning software to optimize your packaging process. The 3D scans will aid the software in knowing where the damage is occurring and help you know how to better package your products for transport.
The Many Advantages of 3D Scanning
3D scanning saves time. It streamlines your prototyping process. It protects your products.
How much would you save in both time and money if you could do those things? Yes, right now 3D scanning is a little pricey, but the ROI is incredible. Check out 3D scanning now.