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3D Scanning

What is Laser Scanning?

3D-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.

Safety

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.

What is Reverse Engineering?

What is Reverse Engineering? Physical Digital Reverse Engineering Services

It is a very common question asked, what is reverse engineering?

In mechanical engineering, the term reverse engineering (often abbreviated to RE) is used to summarise the process of reconstructing an existing object. When designing an object from scratch, an engineer will draw up a design specification and produce drawings from which the item is constructed.

Conversely, with reverse engineering, the design engineer starts with the final product and works through the design process in the opposite direction to arrive at the product design specification. During the process, vital information about the design concept and manufacturing methods is discovered.

The process of reverse engineering begins by gaining dimensional information of the object via 3D scanning, whether it is a mechanical component, a consumer product or an ancient artefact.

Reverse engineering involves acquiring three-dimensional positional data in the point cloud. There are many ways of gathering valuable dimensional information about the product, but using an accurate 3D measuring system is paramount. The accuracy of the data captured will impact the quality and deviation of the Reverse Engineered model when compared to the original.

Physical Digital uses the globally-recognised GOM 3D structured light scanning systems, which offer highly-accurate, traceable and repeatable measurement. The surface data captured is then passed to our in-house design team to establish the original design intent of the object.

What is Reverse Engineering used for?

Reverse engineering enables the duplication of an existing part by capturing the component’s physical dimensions, features, and material properties. There are a wide range of reasons for reverse engineering an object, including:

Legacy Components – For many components that were designed and manufactured years ago, there are no existing 2D drawings or 3D CAD data from which to reproduce the object. Here, reverse engineering is a vital means to gain the information to recreate the product.

Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) issues – If the OEM is no longer trading or has lost design measurements, then Reverse Engineering will supply the vital product information to continue manufacturing of that object.

Design Development, Part Testing & Analysis – Through reverse engineering, a 3D product can be quickly captured in digital form and remodelled or analysed in order to achieve improved design iterations.

Competitor Analysis – Any organisation can analyse competitor products through reverse engineering.

Bespoke and Ancient objects – Where there is no information about the dimensions of an object except for the physical item itself, the quickest and most reliable way to reproduce it will be by reverse engineering. Where a product is organic in shape (not a standard geometry such as cuboid or cylindrical), designing in CAD may be challenging as it can be difficult to ensure that the CAD model will be acceptably close to the sculpted model. Reverse engineering avoids this problem as the physical model is the source of the information for the CAD model.

Modern manufacturing – methods such as Additive Manufacturing rely on reverse engineering.

Digital Archiving – Museum pieces and historic artefacts can be captured through 3D scanning, then reverse engineered and the resulting CAD data can be held in case of any future damage to the object or any need to reproduce parts of the item.

 

Time and cost-effective way to produce models and products

The process of reverse engineering is particularly cost effective if the items to be reverse engineered represent a significant financial investment or will be reproduced in large quantities. Another advantage presented by reverse engineering is in compressing the product development cycle. In a highly competitive global market, manufacturers constantly strive to shorten lead-times to bring a new product to market. With reverse engineering, a 3D model can be quickly captured in digital form and remodelled if necessary or exported for a variety of manufacturing methods such as Additive Manufacturing, Vacuum Casting or CNC machining.

How to capture the data for Reverse Engineering 

Representing the geometry of the part in terms of surface points is the first step in creating parametric or free-form surfaces. A highly accurate and dense polygon mesh is created from the point cloud using the native measurement software or a dedicated reverse engineering software.

The added benefit of a photogrammetry system provides even greater certainty of the data captured for larger objects, such as entire aircraft or boats. Photogrammetry is a separate metrology system designed to capture reference points using multiple digital images, using a verified DSLR camera. The GOM 3D scanning system can use these reference points to extend the potential scanning area, which means it is possible to capture larger items, which can then be reverse engineered.

Reverse engineering process

Depending on the downstream application for the CAD model, different types of surfaces can be created. For example, this could range from producing a fully parametric CAD model which can be easily modified, which is likely to be required when undertaking redesign or optimisation. Compared to where the part is going to be remanufactured or analysed, when a clean representation could be employed.

Through the use of inspection software, analysis of the CAD model is performed and reported to the Client. This highlights the maximum deviations between the scan data and CAD model and documents that the requirements of the specification have been met.

Why do we use Computer Aided Design (CAD)? 

Through the use of various CAD and reverse engineering software, we can create accurate data for manufacturing, analyse how it will perform and improve existing designs.

CAD is used to create two- or three-dimensional (2D or 3D) graphical representations of physical objects. In product and industrial design, CAD is used mainly for the creation of detailed 3D solid or surface models, or 2D vector-based drawings of physical components. However, CAD is also used throughout the engineering process from conceptual design and layout of products, through strength and dynamic analysis of assemblies, to the definition of manufacturing methods. This allows an engineer to analyse design variants, to find the optimal design for manufacturing while minimising the use of physical prototypes

Physical Digital achieves Nadcap reaccreditation

Nadcap Accreditation Logo

Physical Digital achieves Nadcap reaccreditation

 

In 2019, Physical Digital proudly achieved the world’s first Nadcap accreditation for Measurement and Inspection using 3D Structured Light (3DSL). To be awarded this initially was huge recognition for all the hard work and dedication of our skilled and knowledgeable team, however to be reaccredited following the acquisition of Physical Digital by Trescal, as well as the challenges faced with the Covid-19 Pandemic is testament to our team, whose aim is to continuously deliver excellence in metrology for our customers.

Nadcap describes itself as an industry-managed approach to conformity assessment that brings together technical experts from both Industry and Government which:

  • Establishes stringent industry consensus standards
  • Replaces routine auditing of Suppliers with one approved through a consensus decision-making process of members from the user community
  • Conducts more in-depth, technically superior critical process audits
  • Improves Supplier quality throughout industry through stringent requirements
  • Reduces costs through improved standardisation
  • Utilises technically expert auditors to assure process familiarity

We have provided 3D Scanning and metrology services to the Aerospace industry for many years, completing repeatability studies, batch measurement, inspection and analysis on industrial components from single turbine blades to complete jet turbine engines and full aircraft. Our exemplary service has built us a reputation over the years as one of the UK’s leading service providers of 3D Scanning using 3DSL and a UK Gom service provider.

At our facility in Surrey, we operate a state-of-the-art metrology facility optimised for non-contact automated and manual 3D scanning. We are able to carefully managed the environment for measurement with monitoring and controls including precise temperature control, diffused airflow distribution, optimised lighting and humidity monitoring to ensure any effects are understood and mitigated.

Demonstrating our ongoing commitment to quality

Utilising the industry-leading GOM metrology systems, we specialise in capturing high-accuracy surface data for a wide variety of industrial sectors such as Aerospace, Power Generation, Automotive and many more. Working to Nadcap Measurement and inspection requirements demonstrates the continuation of the high level of service that we provide, delivering quality data with unprecedented levels of traceability.

Click here to find out more about our Nadcap Measurement and Inspection services using 3D Structured Light.

About Nadcap: 

Created in 1990 by SAE International, Nadcap is administered by the not-for-profit Performance Review Institute (PRI). PRI is a global provider of customer-focused solutions designed to improve process and product quality by adding value, reducing total cost and promoting collaboration among stakeholders in industries where safety and quality are shared goals. PRI works closely with industry to understand their emerging needs and offers customized solutions in response. Learn more at www.p-r-i.org or contact PRI at PRI@p-r-i.org

Physical Digital® – Covid-19

Business operation during Covid-19 pandemic

June 2021 – Business Operation

As we continue to operate within the parameters of the Government Guidelines for the ongoing Covid-19 Pandemic, our team here at Physical Digital continue to do all we can to operate as safely as possible, to protect both our customers and our staff. Throughout this pandemic we have implemented a number of changes to our working practises to comply with the most up-to-date government guidelines. This has enabled us to continue to offer both in-house and on-site 3D scanning services to our customers.

Prior to visiting any customer site, our Engineers will complete a Coronavirus – Site Working risk assessment to confirm that safe working conditions can be assured. The site engineer will confirm all agreed actions have been implemented by the customer to mitigate the risk before starting work on site. We expect all our customers to act responsibly and help maintain a safe working environment for all. Should our customers require us to complete a Coronavirus health check document or their own risk assessment documents before attending site, we would be happy to do so. Please discuss this with our staff at the time of booking in any 3D Scanning services.

In order to protect our customers and colleagues, all visitors to our site are required to complete a Coronavirus health questionnaire no more than 48 hours before visiting. All visitors will also be required to have their temperature taken before entering the site and should be wearing a mask that covers both the nose and mouth.

All deliveries to site, including items sent for 3D scanning, are placed in quarantine for 24 hours. This should be factored into any timescales when discussing potential projects with our team.

Should you wish to discuss any aspects of your project in relation to the restrictions in place for Covid-19, please do give us a call on 01483 750200 or email info@physicaldigital.com where a member of our team would be happy to help.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank our customers for their continued support.

Our 3D Scanning systems

3D scan of strawberry

What 3D scanning equipment do you use?

One of the questions we get asked by our customers is “What 3D scanning equipment do you use and why?”

There are many types of 3D scanning equipment available on the market today, you can even download apps to 3D scan an object on your phone, however the fundamental difference is the level of accuracy and repeatability that you achieve.
Our MD Tim Rapley introduced the UK’s first GOM 3D scanning systems during his time at McLaren. Since then, the technological advancements made by the GOM company have earned them a prestigious reputation as leaders in the world of metrology.

3D scanning is the process of capturing a physical object and collecting surface data to generate a point cloud or polygon mesh that can be used for product design and development, analysis or help to refine production processes and improve product efficiency.

To demonstrate this, we decided to use an everyday item to showcase our metrology system’s capability and with Wimbledon in full swing (excuse the pun…net!) and an expected 166,055 portions of strawberries and cream being consumed this year, we thought a strawberry would be a good choice!

A strawberry has a lot of surface detail and as we specialise in capturing surface geometries, it brilliantly showcases the capability of the industry-renowned GOM metrology systems used by our expert team and the images demonstrate the level of accuracy that can be achieved. At Physical Digital we pride ourselves on the expert knowledge of our engineers and our rigorous processes and procedures such as environmental control, to ensure that we capture your project at very high-levels of accuracy.

Our GOM 3D scanning systems

Here at Physical Digital® we offer a suite of 3D Structured Light (3DSL) optical measurement services using the industry leading GOM 3D ATOS scanning systems.

GOM ATOS Triple Scan (8M)

This flexible scanning system is most commonly used for our mobile measurement services, allowing us to provide you a flexible service at your premises therefore minimising downtime. GOM ATOS Triple scanners are high resolution, optical digitizers that deliver rapid and precise three-dimensional measuring data. This can be used for the measurement and inspection of many industrial parts and when combined with our GOM TRITOP Photogrammetry systems can be used to capture larger objects such as wind turbines, boat hulls and train carriages etc.

The ATOS Triple Scan technology works by projecting a fringe pattern (Structured Light) onto the surface of the object which is recorded by two cameras and is based on the stereo camera principle. The narrow-band blue light enables precise measurements to be carried out independently of environmental lighting conditions, improving overall accuracy.
Using triangulation principles, the sensor accurately measures the divergence and convergence of the pattern, creating a high-density point cloud of surface measurements.

GOM ATOS Compact Scan (12M)

This is another of our mobile 3D scanning systems that is used for a wide range of applications. Its interchangeable lenses provide small to large fields of view with high detail accuracy. This enable a sharp and precise scan result, which lends itself perfectly for inspection and reverse engineering.

Both mobile 3D scanners also enables probing, which enables our engineers to capture deep pockets, bores holes or areas that cannot be accessed optically (line of sight).

GOM ATOS ScanBox 5120 (16M)

Based at our facility in Guildford, Surrey our GOM ATOS ScanBox is ideally suited for batch measurement for parts up to 2 metres in size such as blades blisks, turbines, vehicle components etc. It delivers rapid, high accuracy automated 3D measurements. Contained within our environmentally controlled measurement cell, the ScanBox utilises the GOM ATOS 16M Triple Scan sensor, with the ability to capture surface data with a detail resolution of more than 20 measuring points per millimetre.

What level of accuracy can be achieved?

Our 3D Measurement systems are able to capture up to 16 million points within 1-2 seconds. The level of accuracy achieved is often determined by the client and can vary on object size, complexity etc. Typically for a turbine blade we would look to achieve a precision of less than 5 microns.

For example of some of our projects, please see our case study page for more information on the different types of objects we are able to scan.

For all your 3D measurement and Inspection requirements, be it a strawberry, sculpture, jet turbine or industrial gas turbine, contact our experienced team on 01483 750200 or via our contact us page and we will be pleased to help you with your enquiry.

How much does 3D scanning cost?

How much does 3D scanning cost? 3D scanning at Physical Digital Facility

One of the first things customers would like to know when they contact Physical Digital is how much does 3D scanning cost?

The answer is that the cost of 3D scanning can vary greatly from project to project and there are many factors that need to be taken into consideration when quoting. The team at Physical Digital® team assess the following to provide an accurate cost:

Scale of object:

Physical Digital have the capability to capture large-scale objects in high-resolution, but the level of detail required downstream for the project will affect the process used, time taken and overall cost. Photogrammetry is often used as the initial data capture method to generate a highly-accurate point cloud which is referenced by the ATOS Triple scan sensor. This will help to reduce deviation on large-scale projects such as aircraft.

Complexity of the object:

Physical Digital deliver their 3D scanning services using world-renowned GOM metrology equipment, which works by line of site. This means that it captures highly-accurate surface data by projecting a phase-shifting fringe pattern using 3D structured blue light onto the surface of your object. The more complex and detailed the surface, the more scans and time it will take to capture the data, influencing the overall cost of the project.

Number of components to be scanned:

Whilst we often scan single components, for multiple-part scans we have an automated measurement facility which offers a significant cost benefit as a batch measurement solution. Where required, our in-house design team can design and manufacture bespoke or modular fixtures to enable even faster scanning of these parts, which can greatly reduce the cost per object.

Location:

When quoting for a project we will take into consideration where the 3D scanning will take place, i.e. if you will be sending the part/s to be scanned at our facility in Surrey, or if you require our mobile 3D scanning services to be delivered on-site, at a location of your choice. Many of our customers see the benefits of on-site scanning as it reduces the overall down-time of the part, subsequently reducing the length of the project.

Deliverable:

We can provide the raw scan data, however we are also able to provide you with in-depth inspection reports or our expert in-house design team can reverse engineer a surface model into CAD and provide manufacturing drawings. The complexity of the object will directly affect the time it will take to be reverse engineered which will of course affect the price.

Downstream use of the data:

Considering what the data will be used for is also an important consideration when quoting on new projects.  For example if the part is being used for special/visual analysis then the resolution can be reduced speeding up the measurement process and therefore reducing the overall project cost.

 

Physical Digital is the largest and longest-established approved GOM service provider in the UK, providing high-accuracy, fully traceable data to a wide variety of industrial sectors and beyond. Our experienced team will work with you to tailor a measurement solution to suit your requirements, whether that is to be completed at our facility in Surrey or on-site at your place of work.

To find out how Physical Digital’s 3D scanning services could support your project, contact us today on +44 (0) 1483 750200 for a no-obligation 3D scanning quote or to chat with one of our team to find out more.