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March 2019

Physical Digital® make FSB South East Awards finals!

FSB South East Awards Finalists

Physical Digital celebrate as they make it to the shortlists for the FSB South East Awards for Business and product innovation.

The FSB Awards recognise the best small business right across the UK, from every sector and industry. The category Physical Digital have entered is varied, with many businesses offering unique specialisms making them stand out in their field of expertise. We were recently advised that we have been lucky enough to be selected as finalists for this award, alongside some fantastic other regional businesses, all striving to develop their companies through innovation.

Physical Digital is the UK’s leading supplier of optical measurement using 3D Structured Light (3DSL). We specialise in delivering 3D scanning services to industry, working more specifically within the Aerospace, Power Generation and Automotive industries. Because of the nature of these industries, they command the highest level of accuracy, repeatability and traceability.

Our 3D scanning services capture surface data from a physical object, producing a highly-accurate digital representation. The captured data can then be used for inspection and performance analysis or passed onto our in-house design team for full reverse engineering, which is ideal for legacy product remanufacture.

Our expert team offer the UK’s highest resolution and highest accuracy 3D measurement services to capture the detailed surface data of an object, using the industry leading non-contact optical metrology systems, Physical Digital offer both in-house and on-site, mobile measurement services, providing a flexibility of service to our customers and ensuring that 3D scanning is completed in a timely manner, with the least amount of downtime for operational products as possible.

Over the past 18 months, we have been working towards an industry-respected accreditation for Aerospace called NADCAP, which will provide recognition for our services of the highest-calibre and set us apart from other service providers within the UK. We have recently received NADCAP certification for our Quality Management System and are currently undergoing thorough technical audits for Measurement and Inspection and 3D Structured Light. Once completed, we will be the first business in the world offering 3DSL services accredited to this specific NADCAP standard. To prepare us for this process, our business has undergone some changes including the introduction of a specialist environmentally controlled measurement cell. This managed environment controls lighting and temperature which is fundamental for dimensional metrology. We maintain the standard reference temperature of 20° according to the International standard. This constant temperature reduces the thermal expansion of materials, ensuring the highest level of accuracy is achieved.

To find out more about our measurement services, see the dedicated service pages on our website:

3D Scanning

Automated measurement

Quality Inspection

Reverse Engineering



Looking forward to the final!

We are very much looking forward to the FSB South East Awards final, which is being held at on the 12th April 2019. Take a look at the companies who join us as finalists within the Business and Product Innovation category:

Snowy’s canine therapy centre Ltd

Inner-vision Technology Ltd

J Randalls

Crumbs Brewing

Spring has sprung at Physical Digital

Daffodil 3D scanning phase-shifting fringe pattern

Here at Physical Digital® we thought we would celebrate the start of Spring by capturing the beauty of the daffodil by 3D scanning one. 3D scanning a flower is not usually a request we would receive so we thought it would be fun to use our high-resolution and high-accuracy GOM optical measurement equipment to capture the delicate nature of a daffodil and the results are simply stunning!

3D scanning a flower

We started the process by creating a fixture on which to place the Daffodil for 3D scanning within our automated measurement cell, the GOM ATOS ScanBox. The fixture increases process stability for measurement and allows for repeatable scans in a fixed position within the scan volume, while also allowing the maximum optical access across the whole surface of the flower.

The volume used to complete the 3D scan was 170 measurement volume which is the highest resolution and suitable for the size of the Daffodil. Measurement volumes can be adjusted to suit the required detail and resolution needed for size of the object being captured, and the level of accuracy required for the project.

Using 3D Structured Light (3DSL), our non-contact optical scanner projects a phase-shifting fringe pattern onto the object in order to capture the full-surface data. Once complete, a polygon mesh is produced by the specialist inbuilt software. This high-resolution polygon mesh can be exported as an .STL file which can be used for further inspection and analysis. The data can also be used to 3D print the object or it can be passed onto our in-house design team for full reverse engineering for remanufacture, ideally suited to legacy products where the CAD model is not available for reproduction.

The data captured for this example perfectly showcases the intricate detail that our industry-leading non-contact optical measurement systems can capture.

As you can see from the images, the veins on the delicate petals on the Daffodil are clearly visible. The non-contact aspect of our GOM metrology systems allow us to capture precious surface information without jeopardising the integrity of the object. This has proved particularly useful for historical artefacts and is why we are the preferred supplier of 3D scanning and inspection for major Aerospace OEM’s, where the freeform shapes are inherently difficult to capture but required where component integrity is critical.

For more information on how Physical Digital’s non-contact, high-accuracy 3D scanning and reverse engineering services can support your project, contact us today for more information or take a look at our website for more information on our services:

What is Laser Scanning?

Laser Scanning - 3D optical scanning phase shifting fringe pattern

What is Laser scanning?

Laser stands for Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation. 3D laser scanning uses a laser beam to scan parts. There are various types of laser scanners, but the most commonly used are: handheld, where the beam sweeps over the part and tripod mounted, where the laser line sweeps across an area or measures a single point. The scanners can also be attached to an arm or traditional CMM gantry, however this sometimes limits scanning to a finite size, which can increase the risk of human error and introduce a level of uncertainty to the measurement.

3D Structured Light (3DSL) scanning

3D scanning using structured light is a fast, highly-accurate and non-destructive method of capturing the physical form of an object digitally. Much like laser scanning, the digital data captured via 3DSL scanning can then be used in product design, visualisation and inspection to assist design engineers with quality assurance, design modifications and improvements.

Rather than using a laser beam, 3DSL optical scanning uses two high resolution digital cameras in order to capture the data. A digital projector and Light Emitting Diode (LED) project a fringe pattern across the surface of the object using a narrow wavelength of blue light. By using the two digital cameras and applying the principles of triangulation, the sensor measures to a very high level of accuracy. This creates a high-density point cloud of surface measurements which can be used for a wide variety of applications.

Data output

Both laser scanners and 3DSL scanners produce high-density point clouds or polygon mesh which can be inspected directly to a CAD model, geometry or manufacturing drawings or, for legacy products can be reverse engineered using specialist software.

Accuracy and traceability

Laser scanners capture the data once as the line passes the illuminated object.  3DSL scanners sample the data many times, as fringe patterns of blue light of varying width and phase capture the form of the object. Due to the repeatability, traceability and high- resolution of measurement, the accuracy of a 3DSL scanner is described as inherently higher than that of a laser scanner. Both systems are largely unaffected by the ambient light conditions, making either type of system suitable in industrial applications. Due to the higher level of accuracy afforded by 3DSL scanning, it is particularly suitable for measuring very detailed items, capturing defined edges of parts such as turbine blades. For this reason, 3DSL is the preferred method of data capture for Aerospace and Power Generation industries due to the high-level of accuracy, resolution and full traceability of the data.


One of the big differences between Laser scanners and 3DSL (blue light) scanners is the intensity of light used. Laser scanners focus intense light and energy into a very small area and therefore one of the largest safety concerns around this is eye-safety. Blue light technology does not project with the same intensity, and therefore does not present the same risks. This makes the 3DSL technology easy to implement in a wide range of environments as it presents minimal safety issues when being used in open workshops or design studios.

Potential Scanning Area

The potential scanning area of the GOM ATOS system we use at Physical Digital can be extended without impacting on the accuracy of the scan data through the added benefit of using the GOM TRITOP photogrammetry system.  Photogrammetry is a separate metrology system designed to capture reference points using multiple digital images, using a verified DSLR camera.  The GOM system can use these reference points to extend the potential scanning area, which means it is possible to capture large objects such as entire aircraft or boats.  The majority of laser scanners do not have the ability to integrate with photogrammetry or other single point systems such as laser trackers, meaning that the accuracy when scanning larger objects can be compromised.

Physical Digital are the UK’s leading provider of 3DSL Scanning

As the UK’s leading service provider for 3D scanning metrology and reverse engineering, Physical Digital have invested heavily in the industry-leading GOM metrology system which uses 3DSL as its method of data capture. Physical Digital maintain the highest level of industry calibration and traceability for all their GOM metrology systems and where required utilise the GOM photogrammetry systems with traceable artefacts of less than <1µm uncertainty.

The 3D scanning systems used by Physical Digital record all measurement data within its dedicated specialist software. This allows vital information to be recalled at any time, such as calibration information, measurement temperature, part numbers and lighting or movement changes, along with maintaining a fully parametric link from measurement data to final report. This offers a huge advantage over every other system currently on the market and provides the full traceability required for high liability manufacturing.

Our GOM ATOS Triple Scan and Compact Scanning systems are fully mobile enabling our expert team to complete measurement at your facility, reducing the downtime of your production parts. For repeat and batch measurement projects, our automated ATOS ScanBox is the ideal solution, providing highly accurate and cost-effective data capture for larger projects.