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Part One: I Have My Scan Data. Now What?

You've finally found a 3D scanner that satisfies your application requirements. It ticks off every box - accuracy, resolution, versatility, and portability. Whether it's a Creaform handheld scanner or a Surphaser hemispherical scanner, the scan data of your part looks great and you're ready to move forward with your project.

Now what?

Getting the 3D scan data is only half of the solution. The second half of the solution is what we can actually do with the data. Usually, how we handle the scan data is where the bulk of the workflow is situated. More often than not, the scan data itself is not our end goal. What we focus on with our customers is what exactly they need from the scan data. We drive our processes based on the final deliverable that is requested.

Typically speaking, most CAD packages do not support importing large scans. If the program can import the scans, there's usually not much that can be done in terms of operations.

So what can we do with the data? What kind of deliverables can we generate?

Inspection & QC Applications

Taking the captured scan data and using it for inspection or quality control applications is one of the main ways we see scan data being utilized in manufacturing. The most common workflow we see is taking the scanned part and comparing it to a perfect CAD nominal.

We use various inspection software to complete this process, including Polyworks Inspector, Geomagic Control X, and Creaform VXinspect. Each software program has been designed to specifically work with 3D scan data, especially large datasets, and compare them to CAD models, other scan data sets, or even complete an inspection without a nominal.

An inspection routine can be set up to extract dimensions, angles, and GD&T from the inspection or manufacturing drawing. The typical workflow when using a CAD model is outlined below.


Scan the part using appropriate 3D scanner based on the following information:

• Accuracy (what is the tightest tolerance we need to measure?)

• Resolution (how small are the features we need to measure?)

• Surface Finish (is the part shiny? Can we spray it with AESUB?)

• Size of part (a few inches? A few feet? A few meters?)


Align the scan data to the CAD model using

the most appropriate alignment method:

• Best-fit alignment (evenly distributes any error in the scan across the entire model)

• Feature-based alignment (using selected features to refine a best-fit alignment)

• Datum alignment (using datum features in hierarchical order to reference all inspection measurements from)


Apply a deviation colour map to visualize deviations quickly and easily:

• Tolerances are customizable depending on inspection requirements

• It provides a fast way to identify issues with the alignment or the part itself


Extract the required dimensions in 3D:

• GD&T measurements capable of being extracted in all software options listed above, depending on version acquired

• Users can extract simpler dimensions like angles and distances

• Caliper measurements may also be used for some dimensions, or to duplicate and verify manual measurements

STEP FIVE: Create sections and extract dimensions in 2D:

• 2D GD&T can be created from cross-sections of the part, whether it be planar cross-sections, radial, along a curve, etc.


Create a report as the final deliverable:

• The reports can be fully formatted and customizable to suit the reviewers' needs, including information on alignments, 3D colour map generation, screenshots, photos of the physical part, company logo, and any other pertinent information.

• Users can tabulate dimensions in list format to have a quick view at the quantifications, or export into other analysis software like Excel

• The reports will update with new scanned parts if the CAD model remains consistent

The deliverable for inspection and QC applications tends to be an easy-to-understand and detailed inspection report.

Parts Two and Three of I Have My Scan Data. Now What? can be found here and here.

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