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January 8th, 2018

Often, handheld 3D Scanners are identified with reverse engineering process. Though it is a great tool for reverse engineering, hand-held 3D Scanners can also be an interesting choice when it comes to product innovation.

Most hand-held 3D Scanners are very light and portable (the Artec3D Scanners we deal with at Altem weighs less than a kg), for the ease of operation and to minimize fatigue. Application usage of these scanners can be classified broadly into three categories:

1. Scanning organic shapes
2. Reverse Engineering
3. Inspection

The first application involves a simple digitization of the three-dimensional physical shape which may range from a Mesolithic stone painting or a tool for archeological record to study of today’s cine artists before they are waxed into the museums and even for certain animation applications in movies. A well scanned 3D data eliminates the need to be edited for such applications and can also seamlessly form an input data for 3D Printers.

For reverse Engineering on the other hand, one needs to extract the digitized data into their design software and perform required changes. Essentially, the digitized data must be converted into an editable format in the CAD software so that the changes are incorporated and sent for downstream applications.

Hand-held 3D Scanners are also extremely quick, most suitable and popular for inspection jobs were fewer co-ordinates are to be examined during inspection. The scanning process can even be automated and optimized by mounting the 3D Scanner to the robotic arm. The scanned data can then be used for CAD to part inspection. For most inspection applications, which are not advanced in nature, one may not even opt for an additional inspection software.

Owing to the rapid digitalization in this IoT and Smartphone era, consumers today are attracted to the rapidly progressing connectivity and more importantly intelligence in every equipment and device they use. Researchers, students, and quite a few start-ups realize this and are willing to bet on this rising opportunity. We at Altem, often are enquired for 3D Printing of such device enclosures. As we granulate the requirement we learn that at times, these are sub-components meant for a larger OEM product. For the device to exactly fit with the OEM product, the bare minimum 3D data required is understandably missing in most cases today.

In a similar case, a product developer, approached us to 3D Print an enclosure for a chip which were to get seamlessly integrated into a cricket coaching bat, throwing up all the necessary data on a coach’s smartphone App. As we dug further into this application, with our customer, we learnt that each cricket bat manufacturer has a unique profile, at times for each model behind the bat where the chip was to reside. It would be a herculean task for most product developers and start-ups to get such 3D data from the OEM so that they can flush the chip enclosure seamlessly. The eventual solution was to procure these variety of cricket bats, 3D scan them and design the suitable enclosure to flush the chip seamlessly. While the chip and most importantly, the Smartphone app are the final product, a hand-held 3D Scanner as in this example can always be a handy aid in a product innovation cycle.

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