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Frequently Asked Questions

We have compiled a list of our most commonly asked questions regarding 3D scanning, reverse engineering, inspection, and Rapid3D services.

 

Hover over the questions to see the answers.

What is the difference between an STL and a solid model file?

An STL (.stl), or stereolothography, is a triangular mesh file often used for scan data. A STEP (.stp) file is a generic CAD file format, made of solids and/or surfaces. Other common CAD files are IGES (.igs) or parasolid (.x_t).

An .STL file, or stereolithography file, is a raw triangulated mesh surface, typically used as a generic 3D scanning file format. It does not carry colour or unit information, just the triangles making up the mesh surface. This means that any parametric shapes the triangles appear to create are not parametric at all, because they are just a series of triangles.

A solid model file, commonly in STEP, IGES or Parasolid format, are 3D part files supported by various CAD software programs. They contain shape information that can be used for manufacturing processes. Parametric shapes are recognized as such and can be modified.

Do 3D Scanners see internal geometry?

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No, our 3D scanners are optical scanners, meaning they can only scan what they see. They use visible (or infrared) light patterns and signals to capture the geometry of the surfaces on which they are projected.

If you can't see a surface, then neither can the scanner. 

I bought a 3D scanner from you. Who do I contact for support?

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Rapid3D will always be your first call for support. Most of the time we can solve your issues and answer your questions right away. In the rare case we cannot come to a conclusion, we have the full support of our OEMs and their resources for assistance.

To get back onto a support or maintenance plan, contact us today.

Are there more specific FAQs for individual software programs?

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Coming soon! We will provide answers for FAQ for our most popular software shortly. For now, feel free to contact us

Can I 3D scan something and then 3D print it right away?

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In most cases, no. There are some exceptions, like scanning a sculpture where an exact replica is desired. However, scan data is different from a CAD model. A cylinder in a CAD model is recognized as such and has associated dimensions. A scanned cylinder is a series of triangles to form the surface with no associated shape information. If the scanned cylinder is out of round, this would be included in the final print of the part if it was not properly reverse engineered. After scanning is complete, a CAD model must be created from the scan data that can then be used for manufacturing. 

Can I scan shiny or chrome-finish objects?

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Any of the Creaform BLACK series scanners are capable of scanning shiny and chrome objects, no problem. In other cases, AESUB scanning spray is an excellent option to coat the difficult-to-scan surfaces in a matte, white powder. 

What are the main types of scanner positioning?

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Handheld 3D scanners can be positioned in 3D space differently, which we refer to as their positioning method. The first way scanners are tracked are through arm-based systems, which are typically rigid and difficult to move. The second method is called tracked 3D scanners, where the scanner is positioned by an external optical tracking device, like the MetraSCAN and C-Track. The third method is through positioning targets, where the scanner looks for the unique pattern of positioning dots and triangulates its position, like the HandySCAN. The fourth method is positioning through natural features, like the Go!SCAN. This method is convenient but not the most accurate option.

Can I import scan data directly into my CAD software?

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For practical applications, no. Most CAD software is not equipped to actually allow the user to interact with the scan data enough to extract useful reverse engineering information for modeling and design work. The STL files come in as a sort of graphic body, almost like a background image. Depending on the size of the STL, it may not even import and if it does most CAD software cannot handle such large amounts of data efficiently. 

For more specific CAD program questions, contact us today.

What is the accuracy of the 3D scanners?

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It depends! Each scanner has its own specific accuracy specification, and can be based on different measurement standards. However, our most accurate 3D handheld scanner is the HandySCAN Black Elite, accurate to 0.025mm locally, and 0.020 + 0.040mm/m volumetrically.

 

 

 

 

 

How do I start a factory calibration for my handheld 3D scanner?

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If your scanner is under an active Complete or Complete Plus plan, calibrations are included. Simply email creaform.support@ametek.com and provide the following information:

- E-mail subject: Calibration Request 

- serial # of your scanner

- your courier, account# and shipping address for the return of the scanner after calibration

- Preference for Ground or Overnight service

- Details of any other concerns you are having with your scanner

For detailed shipping instructions, click here.

My license says expired but I am on maintenance. Why?

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When you purchase any of our scanners and software, the license is perpetual. If you receive this message, it typically means that you have installed a later version of the software where the old license is no longer active. For Creaform products, simply update your license by connecting to Online Services in the Product Manager and pressing the orange download arrow. Similarly, you can manually download the latest license from the Customer Portal.

Is it possible to 3D scan human bodies and faces?

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Yes! The scanners can scan anything they see. Handheld white-light scanners, like the Peel 3D or the Go!SCAN Spark, are best suited for scanning human faces and bodies. The scanners have a setting that allows for accurate data collection while compensating for minor movements (breathing, small twitches, etc). 

What is the difference between all of the AESUB products?

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All AESUB products are designed specifically to be used for 3D scanning applications. Each spray is a white, matte powder meant for coating shiny, transparent, and dark surfaces that are normally difficult to 3D scan. 

AESUB White: this is a permanent spray until you wash or wipe it off. 

AESUB Blue: this is a disappearing spray, lasting between 30 mins and 4 hours. 

AESUB Orange: this is a disappearing spray, lasting up to 24 hours

AESUB Green: this is a liquid spray meant to be used with a spray gun, lasting up to 12 hours.

How can I scan glass or transparent materials?

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All optical scanners will struggle with transparent materials. They work under the assumption that there will be a reflection of their light pattern back toward the camera sensors. With clear surfaces, the light pattern will shine straight through. 

Using AESUB Scanning Spray, it is possible to coat the transparent surfaces with a temporary matte, opaque, white layer of powder.

Can 3D scanners scan directly to a CAD model?

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No, 3D scanners scan to a mesh file also known as an STL. There is still work to be done to convert the scan data to a CAD model using specialized scan-to-CAD reverse engineering software.

Can I buy pre-owned 3D scanning equipment?

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Sometimes Rapid3D will offer pre-owned demo units for purchase, depending on availability. 

Contact us for more information. 

How do I start the hot-swap for my MetraSCAN/HandyPROBE?

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If your scanner is under an active Complete or Complete Plus, plan calibrations are included. Simply email creaform.support@ametek.com and provide the following information:

- E-mail subject: Hot Swap Calibration Request 

- serial # of your Scanner and C-track

- your courier, account# and shipping address for the shipment of fresh calibration artifacts

- Preference for Ground or Overnight shipment

- Details of any other concerns you are having with your scanner

For detailed shipping instructions, click here.

Can I scan tiny parts and big structures with one scanner?

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While many of the 3D scanners we offer are versatile, there is no single scanner that does it all. Depending on your application, you may be more suited for a long-range hemispherical scanner to scan very large objects or structures, a handheld scanner for parts from 5cm to 4 m, or a stationary, fixed-volume scanner for tiny parts under 5cm. Each technology works differently so they can each be used in different scenarios.

Why do your handheld scanners require positioning targets?

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Positioning targets are used in order for the 3D scanners to understand where they are located in 3D space. The scanner triangles its position based on its cameras and pattern of the target dots. The benefits of targets include added traceability and accuracy standards, as well as the scan data quality being resistant to shop-floor vibrations since the reference is linked to the part itself

Some scanners do not require as many or any positioning targets. Contact us today for more information and whether it is suitable for your application.

What is the difference between all of the AESUB products?

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All AESUB products are designed specifically to be used for 3D scanning applications. Each spray is a white, matte powder meant for coating shiny, transparent, and dark surfaces that are normally difficult to 3D scan. 

AESUB White: this is a permanent spray until you wash or wipe it off. 

AESUB Blue: this is a disappearing spray, lasting between 30 mins and 4 hours. 

AESUB Orange: this is a disappearing spray, lasting up to 24 hours

AESUB Green: this is a liquid spray meant to be used with a spray gun, lasting up to 12 hours.

What is the difference between accuracy and resolution?

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Accuracy and resolution are two different things even though they are often incorrectly used interchangeably.

Accuracy is the deviation between the measurements taken by the 3D scanner to the actual part. It is the range of error that is inherent to the measurement. The accuracy range remains constant for a particular 3D scanner. 

Resolution refers to the quantity and spacing of measurements points. It allows the 3D scanner to capture fewer or more details depending on the spacing of the measurements.

 

Contact Us Today

We are here to help answer any questions you may have about 3D scanning.

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