Generally speaking, you want to have the edge on new technology like 3D scanners. However, understanding how they operate and what advantages they have for you as an individual or for your business can be difficult. Because of the fact that they seem like straightforward machines, many people interested in 3D scanning and printing technology think that there must be some catch. As a matter of fact, 3D scanners and printers have some variations which mean that some will do certain types of 3D printing better than others. If you are wondering about how a 3D scanner works, keep reading.

Variations of 3D technology

Small 3D Printer

Have you read in the news recently that 3D printers are constructing homes? You may have also seen stories about 3D printers making replacement parts for children’s prosthetics. The extreme differences between those two projects obviously indicates that there is more than one type of 3D printer. Of course, while there is a range of capabilities for 3D printers, is the same true about 3D scanners?

How does a 3D scanner work?

Are all scanners created equally? Well, not necessarily. While some 3D laser scanners use lasers to scan a physical object to create a 3D model, other 3D scanners use structured light, white light, and even blue LED light to do the same thing. No matter what type of scanner is used, the scanner will need to be able to scan every side of the original object. This is another area where 3D scanning technology has variations. Each year, the improvement upgrades that are made to the scanners usually have to do with the resolution and the robotic arm that helps the scanner move around an object to record the information.

Uses for 3D Printing

What happens to the information a scanner records?

Once the 3D information is recorded by the scanner, it will send the information to a computer program. When you pull up your scan on your computer screen, you will be able to tailor the 3D model created from the scan. For instance, you can work with the display screens to make alterations to the model if it is to be printed. The quality of your final 3D model depends on both the quality of your scanner and scanning software as well as your own artistic skills. If you want to use a 3D printer to print a replica of the original object, you should be aware that the general dimensions will be accurate, but there may be some holes or misshaped areas. You should makes sure that the 3D model has complete, water-tight surfaces or the 3D printer may have problems in those areas.

You’ll want to purchase the right 3D scanner

Purchasing your first 3D scanner can fill you with anxiety. After all, if you get the wrong product, it could cost you significantly more for features that you will never use. To get a better idea of what you actually need to buy, you’ll want to know what you want the 3D scans to accomplish. If you are planning to have your 3D model printed, you’ll want to know what material will be used to print your final product. Once you determine this, you can consult with a 3D printing sales person in order to determine the best type of scanner to use.

In particular, the needs of schools or individuals that want to buy a 3D scanner or printer for educational or novelty purposes differ from those using their equipment for industrial or business applications. For example, did you know that most industrial scanners are actually used for inspection rather than printing? There is also a big difference between a homeowner who buys a 3D printer and scanner to make hundreds of objects per year and a business owner who wants the type of heavy-duty equipment needed in order to make thousands of objects per hour.

Are you ready for a construction 3D scanner?

As a regular Joe or business owner, you may not need a 3D printer that can handle homebuilding. Alternatively, you may be an artist, architect or engineer that needs high-end 3D machinery for extremely precise results. In these cases, you will want to consult people in the 3D technology industry who regularly work with fine-tuned projects. In addition to operating these types of equipment yourself, you can hire professionals to do it for you.

Hire 3D scanning professionals

If you have a large company making thousands of products per week and you think 3D scanning and printing may be right for you, you can hire professionals instead of doing it yourself. In some cases, you may decide that this way of operating gets you the results you need without the hassle of learning about a new type of equipment or disrupting your current production process. When the time is right and you feel you have a better understanding of how 3D printing and scanning works, you can always hire consultants to install equipment at your business location.