Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Everthing You Always Wanted to Know About 3D Scanning

Last year we ran a feature in our monthly newsletter called "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About 3D Scanning *But Were Afraid to Ask." The 10 installment educational series covered different aspects of 3D technologies. We got such positive feedback on the series that we've decided to post an installment on our blog once a week.

Introduction: The Basics

What is a 3D model and how do you get it?

A 3D model is a digital representation of a physical object. If you already have an object, and you want it in a digital form, that’s what we do. Direct Dimensions takes physical objects that you send to us and we use advanced 3D scanning equipment to capture and transform them into 3D digital models.

We do this by processing the raw data gathered during a 3D scan into a digital model that can then be used by you for many purposes. In the next chapter, we'll cover the different methods for collecting this data, including laser scanning and digitizing. A 3D model is incredibly versatile.

Why do I need a 3D model?

3D models can be used for many purposes like making an animation or visualization. They can be used to make design changes to make a new product. They can be used to perform dimensional and comparative analysis of an object, or even FEA and CFD analysis. They can be used for archival purposes - to accurately record the state or form of an object. They can be used to digitally repair damage that has been done to an object which can then reproduce that object in its proper form using rapid prototyping and milling technologies. They can even record your face in intricate detail! (And yes, some of our lasers are eye-safe!). There are no limits as to what can be done once something has been captured in 3D.

In short, our technologies allow almost any physical object to be recreated into a 3D digital format that can be used for just about anything you want.

When? Where? How Large? What are the limitations?

With our various technologies, we can capture objects indoors or outdoors, during the day or at night. The sky is the limit for how large and we also have technology that can capture even the smallest objects. Some of our equipment is portable so we can come to your facility, or you are encouraged to ship your items to our lab.

On the large side, Direct Dimensions has successfully scanned entire airplanes, historic monuments, ships and subs, tracts of land, and large interior spaces like buildings. We’ve scanned mid-size objects like spacesuits, countless consumer products and art work. We've also done tiny, finely-detailed items like coins, medical devices, and dental appliances. We've even captured fingerprints and skin textures! The bottom line is that whatever your object, the tools exist to scan it, and its likely we use them.

What's next?

Now that you know the basics of what can be scanned and how 3D data can be used, you are ready to learn more about the different methods we use for data collection!