3D Scanning can be used very effectively in many areas of application ranging from art to engineering.  The 3D Scanning process generates points in space which are then used to create a surface by joining the points to create a polygon mesh.  This process is generally relatively simple and fast assuming that the scanner used can capture good data.  Most optical scanners require certain optimum conditions and a fairly low light environment.  Rapid 3D can scan with multiple technologies and will assess your project and ensure that we use the correct scanner for the job.  The first step in the workflow is to perform the scan using a suitable scanner to get the best data set possible, bearing in mind that the requirements from the data will vary depending on how the data will be used and the geometry of the object.  (Symmetry etc.)


Rapid 3D has the following scanning processes and equipment available in our service offering.

  • Handheld Laser Scanning, objects from 100mm to 3000mm in size.
  • Handheld full colour scanning of objects from 200mm to 5000mm in size.
  • High resolution projection based scanning of objects from 50mm to 1000mm in size
  • Ultra high res CT scanning of objects from 15mm to 100mm
  • Scan to 3D Printable Content
  • Scan based Inspection
  • Scan based design (Reverse Engineering)


Scan Data Processing

The raw scan data is processed to remove noise and unwanted background data that may have been captured.  If there are multiple scans to capture different views of the the part, these will be aligned and merged to create a single data set.  The data set will then be processed to remove errors in the mesh, such as intersecting triangles, small holes etc.  Once we are satisfied that we have data of the required quality we can proceed to the next step in the workflow.

Scan Based Inspection

Here the mesh from the processed 3D Scan is used to compare to the CAD model to assess the accuracy and highlight areas where the actual part deviates from the designed geometry.  Geomagic Control is used to perform detailed analysis  of the scan data producing coloured deviation plots as well as 2D sections, probed points histograms etc.

Automatically Fitted NURBS Surface

Most CAD packages are not designed to deal with high resolution mesh files (STL, OBJ, etc)

In cases where a scanned file is required as a “place holder” to design around, the scanned mesh file can be autosurfaced with NURBS patches to make the data easier to use in most CAD packages.  It is important to note that while these files can be saved in the common interchange formats they cannot typically be used to recognise features.  This process is mostly automatic and can be done quickly.

Scan Based Design / Reverse Engineering

In cases where a CAD model is required suitable for manufacturing parts and creating engineering drawings or to facilitate design modifications, the 3D scan data can be used to recreate the design using the scanned data as a template.  Here we use Geomagic Design X, this is a full parametric modeller that allows the designer to take sketches and features from the underlying scan data and create a feature based CAD model that is compatible with most CAD systems, (Solidworks, Inventor, Catia, SolidEdge etc.)

Scan to 3D Print

In many cases where the object or part in question needs to be duplicated or scaled up or down.  3D Scanning can be used to generate printable content.  The scan data needs to be as good as possible with a resolution suited to the geometry that is to be duplicated. The data is then processed using Geomagic Wrap and can also be sharpened or edited as a mesh using voxel based modellers such as Geomagic Sculpt or Freeform.  Models are often shelled to reduce the material used in printing.