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What is a 3D Laser Scanner?

When large or complex environments need to be documented or surveyed, 3D laser scanners tend to provide an incredibly economical and practical solution.

Traditionally, capturing large complex environments depended profoundly on tools that produced single-point measurements/data points, like piano wire, tape measures, laser range finders, plumb bobs, and total stations.

While these are familiar tools, they're usually time-consuming and often take days, weeks, or sometimes even months, depending on the size and complexity of the survey.

In addition, using traditional tools tends to produce inconsistencies in measurements and building layout by transferring partial, incomplete data from one user to another, ultimately leading to errors and discrepancies onsite.

This is where 3D laser scanners step in.

What is a 3D Laser Scanner?

A 3D laser scanner is a non-contact device that uses non-destructive laser technology to capture millions of data points (point cloud data) that can be used to accurately document and measure almost any space or object.

A collection of these millions of 3-dimensional data points is called a point cloud. 3D laser scanners can quickly gather and collect point cloud data by emitting a beam of infrared laser light onto a revolving mirror that seamlessly paints the surrounding environment with light.

The objects in the laser's path reflect the light beam to the laser scanner, providing the point cloud data and geometry that can then be reverse engineered into accurate 3D Models.

Besides direct distance and overall measurements, 3D laser scanners can also help obtain sizes and layouts on large, complex vertical and horizontal planes, giving you a full scope of measurement information.

Simply put, 3D laser scanning is a way of capturing a physical object's exact shape and size into the computer world as a digital 3D model/representation.

3D laser scanning solutions are ideally suited to inspect and measure complex geometries and contoured surfaces that call for significant amounts of measurement data to be collected for a proper detailed inspection and verification.

There are several types of 3D scanners: desktop 3D scanners, handheld 3D scanners, Terrestrial scanners, etc., each differing in terms of technology, price ranges, and features. They're all used within the project's requirements for laser scanning a particular object or event.

How Does A 3D Laser Scanner Work?

The 3D scanning process comprises specialized software and hardware that drives a laser probe to the object's surface. The laser probe emits a line of laser light onto the surface where two sensor cameras constantly record the changing shape and distance of the laser line in 3-dimensions (XYZ) as it sweeps along the object.

Who Uses 3D Laser Scanning?

Architects, survey technicians, engineers, mechanics, and manufacturers use 3D laser scanning. However, as 3D laser scanning tends to become more mainstream, its capabilities also continue to grow.

More and more industries are quickly tapping into this groundbreaking metrology technology for its array of advantages.

However, regardless of the growth and expansion within 3D laser scanning uses, engineers and manufacturers are still most likely to use it in their jobs every day.

Industries and Applications

3D laser scanners are easy to move and use, versatile, and accurate. This makes them the perfect tool for many industries and applications.


3D laser scanning can give ongoing in-field verification at every stage of a particular construction project's lifecycle. This lets you plan, design, and build accurately. Our 3D laser scanning solutions can help you avoid onsite errors, reduce rework and scrap, and provide significant time and cost savings.

Site Surveying

3D laser scanners are used to obtain volume measurements and extensive as-built and topographic surveys.

Architectural & Civil Engineering

3D laser scanners help capture and document accurate as-built records of existing buildings and create 3D models for the project planning/design phase.

Fire Safety and Law Enforcement

3D laser scanners are excellent tools for crash and accident scene reconstructions, crime scene documentation, forensic investigations, fire scene analysis, tc. It saves hours of documentation time and reserves a digital copy of scenes that might be environmentally at risk.

Product Development and Design

3D laser scanning allows for enhancements of existing products. It gives technicians and mechanics a new way of seeing how things work. The resulting insights and information it delivers may entirely recreate products to make them more efficient.

Developing valuable products with productivity and efficiency is crucial for manufacturers. Designing iterations digitally and reviewing their functionality within the software avoids frustration and error before the product enters the production phase.

Oil & Gas

3D laser scanning is well equipped to lend a helping hand in engineering, planning, and maintenance in refineries, plants/facilities, and oil platforms. They're also incredibly beneficial in documenting complex piping structures to prevent installation errors or issues.

Safety & Security

3D laser scanners and point cloud data can provide incredibly valuable and detailed data used by the security staff to save the lives of individuals when responding to possible threats.

Quality Control

Our 3D laser scanning solutions are the new standard for enhancing products, cutting costs, minimizing wastage, and acquiring a competitive advantage for quality control processes. By using innovative 3D laser scanning technology, manufacturers have access to more valuable and accurate data now more than ever.

In addition, this information streamlines the production process in several ways. By detecting the problem-causing parts beforehand, manufacturers can save money and time by minimizing development iterations. 3D laser scan data enables the digital assembly of multiple components to measure fit and finish before any substantial parts are fabricated and shipped.

Heritage & Historic Preservation

3D laser scanning solutions can record the complicated geometries of existing buildings and objects to study, restore, or digitally preserve them.

Reverse Engineering

Since 3D laser scanners accurately gather an object's shape, it allows our team to quickly and accurately reverse engineer and produce a 3D computer-aided design (CAD) model for reproduction purposes.

In most cases, legacy parts manufactured decades earlier are only defined with 2D drawings, not 3D.

3D laser scanning fixes this by gathering these legacy parts' dimensions, resulting in an exact 3D digital representation. Our engineers can surface and use the point cloud data to reverse engineer and generate a CAD model. The new model can then be used to develop new tooling and molds.

Our 3D laser scanning solutions generate accurate results with fewer errors in each application, and typically takes less time than traditional methods!

Benefits of Using 3D Laser Scanning

3D laser scanning and reality capture solutions carry an array of benefits that industrial manufacturers and several other businesses utilize. The following benefits will give you an overall idea of how 3D laser scanners can assist your company.

1. Quality Control

When it comes to making sure the products are being produced properly, 3D laser scanning is rapidly becoming a must. It's proven its value by providing users with a quick update on the construction of a product and or building/structure.

For instance, a business can take the data acquired from a scan to detect any inaccuracies and correct them before the final product is made.

2. Meet Deadlines

3D laser scanning services can help firms keep tabs on their work's progress. If you are a large construction company, regular 3D laser scanning will give you a comprehensive breakout of how much has been achieved in a workplace. Our 3D laser scanning and Scan-To-BIM solutions can check the progress of the items being installed onsite.

3. Optimizes Manufacturing and Engineering

The information collected by a 3D laser scan applies to the engineering aspects of the project. For instance, the data from the scans will aid you in performing CFD, FEA, and CAE engineering analysis on your created or modified items.

4. Accurate Documentation

Our 3D laser scanning solutions in several industries allow firms to document the products or sub-components they offer accurately. With it, firms can instantly have accurate measurements for all the different products they provide.

5. Rapid Prototyping

A significant benefit of 3D laser scanning is minimizing how many prototype cycles are required. With the help of 3D scan data, you can mitigate the prototypes as created and get the measurements straight away before going to production.

Before it is manufactured, the product/object will be created digitally with the correct physical measurements, giving them proper functionality and the right scale.

6. Safe Way to Access Risky Unsafe Areas

Imagine measuring a gigantic pressure vessel and its constituents from the ground level without even so much as using a tape measure or climbing on top of it. 3D laser scanning technology can minimize the risk of falling and enhance safety for your workers.

It minimizes the scaffolding use and the need to squeeze into narrower spaces or climb to high levels to obtain the proper dimensions/documentation.

Why Work With ScanTek 3D on Your Upcoming Project?

ScanTek offers a diverse range of 3D laser scanning solutions that can be customized for your specific project needs. At ScanTek, we prioritize and value client satisfaction.

Our vast experience with different industries and clients is certainly a key factor in our continued success.

Get in touch with our team of experts today to learn everything about our 3D laser scanning solutions and let ScanTek help you bring all your ideas to life!


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