How do 3D laser scanners work?

3D laser scanning is a technique used to capture the shape of an object using a line of laser light. The non-contact, non-destructive technology of 3D laser scanning creates “point clouds” of data from the surface of an object. These pockets of data result in a 3D file that can be saved, edited or even printed into a 3D object.
With the ability to measure minute details and capture free-form shapes, 3D laser scanning is well suited to the measurement and inspection of the most complex of geometrics. Not only do these require a substantial amount of data to be accurately represented, measuring such difficult shapes is highly impractical with the use of traditional methods.

The process of measuring and capturing an object with 3D laser scanning begins with the acquisition of data. First, an object is placed on the bed of a digitiser where a laser probe is driven around its surface using specialised software. This laser probe projects a line of laser light onto the surface of the object while 2 sensor cameras record the laser line in three dimensions as it changes distance and shape moving along the object.

The resulting data appear as “point clouds” on a PC as the laser continues on its course, capturing the entire surface of the object along the way. Depending on the object size, the process can be complete in just a matter of seconds. Up to 750,000 points can be collected per second, all with pin-point accuracy. Once the vast point cloud data files are created, they can be merged into one 3D representation of the object and post-processed with various software packages depending on the specific application. An example of which could be for inspection purposes, in particular the comparison of the scanned object to CAD nominal data. Laser scanning also constitutes as the fastest and most accurate way of acquiring 3D digital data in reverse engineering. With the help of specialised software, the point cloud data can be used to create 3D CAD models of a particular shape or a parts geometry.

Manchester Metrology is an industry-leading metrology company offering sub-contract engineering work and metrology equipment for hire or purchase. Through continuous investment into the latest metrology equipment, Manchester Metrology now offers the Einscan Pro, Cybergage 360 and Faro UK scanners such as the Faro Arm, Faro Gage and Faro Focus through specialist contract measurement services.

In addition to Manchester Metrology’s wide range of metrology equipment, it also offers metrology software packages and runs training courses for a range of metrology software programmes. Examples of metrology software covered by the team at Manchester Metrology include; Polyworks, Delcam Powerinspect, Geomagic and Spatial Analyzer. Manchester Metrology also offers a range of metrology equipment accessories including products for Faro UK technology; all products can be viewed on our online store here.

If you would like more information about any of Manchester Metrology’s services, call on 0161 637 8744 or contact us here.

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