Quality management is the cornerstone of success in today’s manufacturing. In an era where it’s become common for different parts of a product to be manufactured in different places, inspection plays a vital role in ensuring consistent quality.
Conducting an inspection involves an elaborate set of procedures including measuring, verifying, or testing a part and comparing them with the standards and specifications. And to make this process faster and more precise, more and more manufacturers are turning to 3D scanning.
Although it’s a relatively recent metrology technique, 3D scanning is fast becoming a popular choice, trusted for its accuracy, reliability, speed, and ease of use.
Its non-contact nature and exceptional flexibility make it ideal for a vast range of parts in any environment. There are many stages of production it can help, but manufacturers most often use 3D scanning to:
3D metrology software like Geomagic Control X makes it easy for anyone to conduct inspection
There’s decidedly a lot of potential in using 3D scanning in manufacturing, but to get the most out of this technology, choosing the right type of scanner is key. The old maxim about using the right tools for the job holds true in scanning too.
Luckily today’s manufacturer has myriad options at their fingertips. Generally speaking, there are three major groups of scanners:
The myriad scanners on today’s market mean it’s easy for any business to find the perfect fit for their inspection needs
A top contour view into the scanner market is a good starting point. However, hardware is just one part of the inspection equation. To process the scan data quickly and efficiently, an organization needs to have the best software.
Those recently initiated into the world of scanning may be surprised to learn that a scanner on its own isn’t enough and wonder why exactly is software necessary.
A 3D scanner doesn’t produce a solid model of an object on its own, but clusters of spatial data points, called point cloud data. Yet a process like inspection involves working with comparing, measuring and analysing parts.
To do this effectively, a manufacturer needs software that can extract data from a point cloud and process it quickly and easily.
Today users can choose between three main types of 3D scanning software for inspection:
Software can make a world of difference in inspection, and, since scan-native software stands out in this area, it’s worth taking time to understand its advantages.
Firstly and most importantly, scan-native metrology software allows users to get the most out of a scanner because it can handle huge data sets easily.
A typical 3D scan contains tens of millions of points, but most 3D measurement software was built for CMMs or laser trackers and handles only smaller numbers of discrete measurement points.
In practical terms, scan-native software versus other software can mean the difference between a 3-minute or 10-minute inspection, and inspecting 18 or six parts an hour.
In the worst-case scenario, some software may not even be able to handle a scan at all because the data set is too large.
After the ability to handle huge data sets, the second biggest advantage of scan-native software is high measurement precision.
One misconception about 3D scanning is that it’s inherently less accurate than contact measurement. And it is true that individual contact measurement will likely exhibit less random error.
However, with the right noise filtering, outlier removal, and geometry fitting algorithms, non-contact measurement can be just as precise.
How can a manufacturer be sure they’ll get that accuracy?
When choosing software, they should keep their eyes open for these scan-native algorithms – not just standard CMM measurement and fitting algorithms scaled up to work with lots of data.
Software that automatically determines the optimal settings for every scan is much more scalable, as it doesn’t require users to become experts to attain reliable results.
Deviation color maps are another benefit of scan-native software.
Imagine looking for keys in a pitch-black room. Would you rather use a flashlight that can only illuminate a small area of the room at one time, or flip the light switch and see the entire room at once?
That’s the difference between measuring a few dimensions on a part versus a full deviation color map that compares a scanned part with a nominal 3D model.
The ideal solution, however, couples a color map with individual measurements called out on a given part.
Many 3D measurement software will display a basic color map over an imported CAD, but that doesn’t amount to a detailed analysis. It’s the ability of software to conduct deviation analyses, such as 3D, 2D cross-section, boundary, along curve, silhouette, and virtual edge comparisons, that makes a real difference to inspection.
Even in GD&T, scan-native software comes out on top. Many assume that it’s better to measure basic geometric features with a contact measurement system like a CMM.
When you have a limited number of features to measure, that may be true. However, for more complex parts with dozens or even hundreds of individual features, it will almost always be faster to scan and then use software to identify and measure those features.
To speed up your GD&T, it’s vital to get software that automatically identifies features in a 3D scan, filters the data intelligently to remove noise and takes reliable, accurate measurements.
Finally, with scan-native software manufacturers get digital archives of parts for future use.
Every part that is scanned becomes a digital record with nominal model, alignments, and every measurement taken on that part in one efficient file. This makes it easy to go back to any part ever scanned and get full insight into its history.
We hope you found this guide on 3D scanning and the benefits of using software useful. However, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Want to know more about how 3D scanning accelerates inspection? Download our e-book Is 3D Scanning Right for Your Inspection Needs? and learn: