3D Scanning

The Technology

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The technology
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Overview

A 3D scanner is a device that analyzes a real-world object or environment to collect data on its shape and possibly its appearance (i.e. colour). The collected data can then be used to construct digital, three dimensional models.

Industries and users who traditionally work with two-dimensional plans and schematic diagrams are increasingly discovering the advantages of three-dimensional planning and documentation tools through the use of 3D laser scanners. Traditionally, measurements are collected using a combination of tools such as measuring tapes, total stations, digital cameras, and laser range finders; however, the use of 3D laser scanners allows companies to gather measurement data with a single solution while significantly reducing data collection errors and streamlining the overall workflow.

Capturing high resolution three-dimensional images of complex environments and geometries, large-volume 3D laser scanners provide a fast, efficient way to capture millions of data points for use in comprehensive 3D models or detailed reconstructions. Used in applications ranging from forensic and crime scene investigation to surveying, facility management and historic preservation, 3D laser scanners are a versatile, accurate solution that allows companies to obtain data they previously couldn’t, helping them to make more informed decisions while saving valuable time and money.

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Types of laser and scanners

Many different technologies can be used to build these 3D scanning devices; each technology comes with its own limitations, advantages and costs. Many limitations in the kind of objects that can be digitized are still present, for example, optical technologies encounter many difficulties with shiny, mirroring or transparent objects.

There are many different approaches to 3D scanning, based on different principles of imaging. Some technologies are ideal for short-range scanning, while others are better for mid- or long-range scanning.

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Short-Range (<1 meter focal distance)
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Laser Triangulation 3D Scanners

Laser triangulation scanners use either a laser line or single laser point to scan across an object. A sensor picks up the laser light that is reflected off the object, and using trigonometric triangulation, the system calculates the distance from the object to the scanner.

The distance between the laser source and the sensor is known very precisely, as well as the angle between the laser and the sensor. As the laser light reflects off the scanned object, the system can discern what angle it is returning to the sensor at, and therefore the distance from the laser source to the object’s surface.

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Structured Light (White or Blue Light) 3D Scanners

Structured light scanners also use trigonometric triangulation, but instead of looking at laser light, these systems project a series of linear patterns onto an object. Then, by examining the edges of each line in the pattern, they calculate the distance from the scanner to the object’s surface. Essentially, instead of the camera seeing a laser line, it sees the edge of the projected pattern, and calculates the distance similarly.

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Mid and Long Range (>2 meters focal distance)
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Laser Pulse-based 3D Scanners

Laser pulse-based scanners, also known as time-of-flight scanners, are based on a very simple concept: the speed of light is known very precisely, so if we know how long a laser takes to reach an object and reflect back to a sensor, we know how far away that object is. These systems use circuitry that is accurate to picoseconds to measure the time it takes for millions of pulses of the laser to return to the sensor, and calculates a distance. By rotating the laser and sensor (usually via a mirror), the scanner can scan up to a full 360 degrees around itself.

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Laser Phase-shift 3D Scanners

Laser phase-shift systems are another type of time-of-flight 3D scanner technology, and conceptually work similarly to pulse-based systems. In addition to pulsing the laser, these systems also modulate the power of the laser beam, and the scanner compares the phase of the laser being sent out and then returned to the sensor. For reasons that are beyond this web page’s scope, phase shift measurement is more precise.

How the Faro Focus 3D Works

Large-Volume 3D Laser scanners like the Faro Focus 3D use infrared laser technology to produce exceedingly detailed three-dimensional images of complex environments and geometries in only a few minutes. The resulting images are an assembly of millions of 3D measurement points, known as a point cloud.

The laser scanner works by emitting a beam of infrared laser light and reading the energy reflected back to the scanner to place a point in 3D space.

The laser is sent from the scanner onto a rotating mirror that projects a flat plane of laser light out from the scanner. The entire head of the scanner then rotates, sweeping the laser across the desired area. Objects in the path of the laser will reflect energy back to the scanner and the scanner will place a point in 3D space.

The density of the points collected is controlled by the rotation speed of the scanner. The slower the scanner turns, the denser the pattern of points collected, while the faster the scanner turns, the resulting point cloud is less dense. In this manner, millions of discrete measurements can be collected in a matter of minutes.

For most situations, a single scan will not produce a complete model of the subject. Multiple scans, even hundreds, from many different directions are usually required to obtain information about all sides of the subject. These scans have to be brought into a common reference system, a process that is usually called alignment or registration, and then merged to create a complete model. The use of reference targets or objects in the scan environment can be used to tie together multiple scans, each on their own coordinate system onto a single, aligned coordinate system. This allows extremely complex environments to be documented quickly and accurately. This whole process, going from the single range map to the whole model, is usually known as the 3D scanning pipeline.

Collected 3D data is useful for a wide variety of applications. These devices are used extensively by the entertainment industry in the production of movies and video games. Other common applications of this technology include industrial design, orthotics and prosthetics, reverse engineering and prototyping, quality control/inspection and documentation of cultural artifacts.

The purpose of a 3D scanner is usually to create a point cloud of geometric samples on the surface of the subject. These points can then be used to extrapolate the shape of the subject (a process called reconstruction). If colour information is collected at each point, then the colours on the surface of the subject can also be determined.

3D scanners share several traits with cameras. Like cameras, they have a cone-like field of view, and like cameras, they can only collect information about surfaces that are not obscured. While a camera collects color information about surfaces within its field of view, a 3D scanner collects distance information about surfaces within its field of view. The "picture" produced by a 3D scanner describes the distance to a surface at each point in the picture. This allows the three dimensional position of each point in the picture to be identified.

Sectors

Architecture Engineering Construction (AEC)

Effective planning is critically important to architects, construction engineers and contractors in any type of construction project. 3D documentation at every stage, from initial design to final inspection, helps avoid costly rework errors.

Effective planning is critically important to architects, construction engineers and contractors in any type of construction project. 3D documentation at every stage, from initial design to final inspection, helps avoid costly rework errors.

Architectural practices, construction engineering companies and building contractors have all adopted FARO`s 3D laser scanners for 3D modeling and as-built documentation. Their projects range from simple house construction to inner city renovation and new office construction.

As-Built Documentation is the process of describing an object or structure as it appears in its current state in the real world through the use of manual or digital documentation.

With our 3D scanning services we are able to:

  • Bring the facility or object back to the office to avoid return site trips
  • Create conceptual fly through videos blending existing and proposed structures to “sell” projects
  • Extract as much or little information as you need, when you need it
  • Create accurate 2D and 3D documentation for architects or engineers to facilitate renovations, additions, or repurposing
  • Create a Building Information Model (BIM) for contractor collaboration, energy studies, facility management, and more
  • Monitor construction for accuracy and create “close out” as-built documentation after each trade or phase is finished
  • Perform off-site pre-fabrication of building components
  • Monitor structures over time for attrition and settling
  • Save time and produce superior deliverables

Industries Served: Architecture, Civil Engineering, Construction, Facility Management, Heritage, Real Estate

Archeology Heritage Preservation

From finding elusive sites to preserving fragile artifacts, archaeology uses digital-imaging technologies to preserve the places and objects that link humanity to its past.

From finding elusive sites to preserving fragile artifacts, archaeology uses digital-imaging technologies to preserve the places and objects that link humanity to its past.

Mapping Ancient Sites (Long Range Scanner)

With our long range 3D scanner (Focus3D Laser Scanner) we are able to quickly capture highly accurate and detailed as-built conditions of historical structures and buildings, as well as archaeological sites constructing 360-degree point clouds of scanned surfaces to create 3D models used in building restoration or historic preservation plans. Archaeologists can enter the point cloud data generated by our long range laser scanner into a geographic-information-systems (GIS) software program, and generate a 3D model of the entire site with each artefact in its original position in color-coded soil layers. Researchers can then look at the site in ways that are impossible in the real world, rotating the model or slicing through it to view cross sections. Maps of the geographical characteristics of an area, including elevation, soil type, and distance from water can also be generated. After mapping each site in the area, archaeologists then search for the kinds of places that they know people of the past preferred. The GIS software then pinpoints places that share those characteristics, directing archaeologists to other likely sites.

Modeling Ancient Artifacts (Short Range Scanner)

With our short range high accuracy 3D scanner we can quickly capture the geometry of small to medium artefacts and then convert the captured point cloud to a textured surface 3D model or solid model it in 3D. Modeling in 3D can help preserve even the smallest artefacts, like beads and tiny bones. These fragile physical objects are essential links to the past, but they are often sequestered in museums or university collections to ensure their preservation. Creating virtual copies of these artifacts makes them more available for study. Researchers far from the collection itself can even receive a copy of the artifact by email. Combining the 3D scanning and 3D modeling ability with 3D printing can create accurate, detailed physical copies of artefacts. The 3D printer`s software slices the virtual model into flat cross sections, and then the printer deposits layers of a material, such as plaster powder used by the Projet 660, to form a 3D object.

Areas of application: Castles, churches, museums, archaeological Sites, other buildings for documentation, small medium and large scale artefacts and statues.

Asset facility management

3D laser scanning with the FARO Laser Scanner can provide engineers with detailed 3D models that accurately document entire facilities and their assets, such as power components, machinery, and pipe work.

3D laser scanning with the FARO Laser Scanner can provide engineers with detailed 3D models that accurately document entire facilities and their assets, such as power components, machinery, and pipe work. This scan data can be used for building management, collision detection for retrofits, as-built documentation for CAD modeling, and other plant design tasks.

With our 3D scanning services we are able to:

  • Accurately document as-built conditions to support engineering, even in very tight or complex spaces
  • Reduce return visits to the site
  • Simulate component replacement in 3D to minimize production downtime and avoid errors
  • Perform nuclear walk-downs
  • Identify piping tie-in points and clearances
  • Perform clash detection between new designs and existing conditions
  • Improve safety by remotely measuring difficult or dangerous areas, such as substations or hot zones
  • Validate installations are to plan
  • Provide physical data for asset management
  • Monitor structural deflection
  • Save time and produce superior deliverables

Industries Served: Marine, On board Ballast water management installations, Chemical, Food Processing, Energy, Mechanical Engineering, Petrochemical

Accident reconstruction

Accident Reconstruction is the determination of the sequence of events which resulted in an accident or failure through analysis, observation and study.

Accident Reconstruction is the determination of the sequence of events which resulted in an accident or failure through analysis, observation and study.

With our 3D scanning services we are able to:

  • Gather vast amounts of data quickly and bring the virtual scene back to the office
  • Easily share data with clients over the web with one-click publishing
  • Perform virtual surveying to support legacy workflows
  • Create true-to-life visual recreations
  • Analyze line of sight and environmental factors from various vantage points
  • Compare scan data with OEM CAD files for vehicle deformation analysis
  • Save time and produce superior deliverables

Industries Served: Accident Investigation, Biomechanics Research, Fire Investigation, Forensic Engineering, Law Enforcement

Reverse engineering

Inspection is the process of examining a part to determine if it conforms to outlined specifications during or after the production cycle.

Inspection is the process of examining a part to determine if it conforms to outlined specifications during or after the production cycle.

Reverse Engineering is the process of analyzing details on design, construction and operation to produce a copy or improved version of a product.

With our 3D scanning services we are able to:

  • Generate precise 3D CAD documentation of complex machine components, molds, patterns, and fixtures
  • Reverse engineer copies of large scale products and components when there is no existing CAD data available
  • Quickly measure large, organic surfaces for inspection
  • Measure red-hot objects at a safe distance, avoiding expensive cool down cycles
  • Integrate the scanner with automation equipment and routines
  • Extend time between relining of furnaces and ore crushers
  • Pre-fabricate components, scan, and fit-up virtually in CAD
  • Save time and produce superior deliverables

Industries Served: Aerospace, Automotive, Boats & Yachts, Defense, Foundry, General Manufacturing, Ship-Building

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The 3D Scanners

Our scanner portfolio is currently consisted of three scanners
all employing different scanning technologies and specialising in specific markets and applications:

Faro Focus3D

LONG RANGE 3D SCANNER
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Digiteyezer Easytwin

SPECIALISED 3D SCANNER
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PrimeSense

SHORT RANGE 3D SCANNER
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LONG RANGE 3D SCANNER

The FARO Focus3D is a high-speed Terrestrial Laser Scanner (TLS) offering the most efficient method for 3D measurement and 3D image documentation. In only a few minutes, this 3D laser scanner produces dense point clouds containing millions of points that provide incredibly detailed 3D color images of large scale geometries. Multiple scans from different positions can then be automatically placed to create a cohesive point cloud, resembling an exact measureable copy of even the most complex and large structures.

The FARO Focus3D is small and compact. Weighing just 5 kg (11 lb), it is the smallest 3D laser scanner ever built. With an intuitive touchscreen display, users can control all of the scanner functions with the easy-to-use interface.

  • Distance accuracy up to ±2mm
  • Range from 0.6m up to 120m
  • Measurement rate up to 976,000 points/sec
  • Small and compact: The smallest 3D laser scanner ever built and weighing just 5 kg (11 lb)
  • Intuitive touchscreen display: Control all scanner functions with easy-to-use touch interface
  • Integrated color camera: Photorealistic 3D color scans with up to 70 megapixels resolution and a parallax-free color overlay

SPECIALISED 3D SCANNER

The Digiteyezer Easytwin is an automated 3D scanner that creates 3D lifelike models of organic shapes in a couple of seconds. This solution offers the ability to propose personalized 3D usages to consumers directly in retail stores, malls, photographers, leisure sites, museums, stadiums plastic surgeons etc.

To scan, Digiteyezer Easytwin takes multiple pictures at varying angles of the scanned object and creates a 3D model within 30 seconds. The organic shape is then displayed on any kind of device and is ready for being used in many 3D services like 3D printing stores, Hairstyles virtual fitting, 3D multimedia purposes (games), medical applications etc. The scanning technology and the hardware device can be customized with any customer’s branding and/or additional capabilities.

The EASYtwin device consists of a 3D scanning device which is totally autonomous and doesn’t require any external system or accessories for operating.

The EASYtwin device is installed at the customer’s site in an hour and will be operational after the installation. No training is required for using the device and the application of this solution.

Primesense based 3Dscanner, combined with state of the art scan software is an easy and inexpensive way to get started with 3D scanning.

The combination of the two products will let you try 3D scanning in your field. Whether you are experimenting before purchasing a professional scanner or simply want to scan for fun/hobby,this is the route to take.