The benefits of automated 3D scanning

3D Scanning is used widely throughout industry to support a vast number of applications across many business sectors, from industrial to medical, marine to the arts. 3D scanning supports product development and analysis, quality inspection as well as helping to  improve and streamline production processes.
But why is 3D scanning automation so beneficial?
Physical Digital Automated Measurement

What are the benefits?

  • Full Traceability – This is achieved using a certified Probing Spacing Artefact (PSA) with a known chain of measurements with associated uncertainties, back to a world standard.
  • Full automation – The ability to fully automate the inspection process allows for a reduction in the production cycle, offering a quicker time to market with no reduction in quality
  • Cost – effective – Reduction in programming and processing time means that this is a cost-effective solution.
  • Comprehensive reporting – Automatically able to recreate inspection reports in a visual format that allow engineers to easily understand and demonstrate the results of scanning and inspection.
  • Repeatability – Automation means that bespoke program templates can be created to ensure a completely repeatable measurement process. This can be further supported by bespoke fixtures being designed and manufactured in house to aid stability and continuity.

Industrial Gom ATOS ScanBox for automation


Our GOM ATOS ScanBox can be used to conduct measurement of a wide range of parts/features varying in sizes from a few mm up to up to 2000 mm in size. We therefore have the ability to measure larger parts such as vehicle components, whilst also offering the flexibility to complete highly accurate and fully traceable measurement for smaller components such as turbine blades. Our specialist team are able to fully program the automated measurement for individual projects, capturing full-field 3D coordinates for each individual measurement. 

What is Environmental control so important?

The answer is accuracy.

At our premises in Guildford, Surrey we are proud to house an environmentally controlled metrology cell, in which lighting and temperature is controlled, both of which are fundamental for dimensional metrology. Here 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.

It is important to constantly track temperature, humidity and barometric pressure fluctuations so that we can ensure the environmental conditions within the measurement area are consistent.  This is especially important for long term projects where part measurements do not all have to be completed in one batch, at one time.  This helps our customers to send parts as they are ready, reducing down time and increasing flexibility.

At Physical Digital we track the performance of our sensors by performing regular acceptance tests against a calibrated artefact.  By analysing key dimensions, we can perform statistical process control against our set control limits.  This will identify any non-conformance, which could be related to incorrect measurement set-up or variation in environmental control. Our probing and spacing artefact is periodically calibrated to international standards enabling analysis of bias and performance of the measurement system.

An additional benefit to accurate environmental control is the ability to measure and inspect customer parts as close to the designed condition as possible.  Although the accuracy of the measurement would not be affected, by not measuring parts at a consistent 20° would mean offsets or bias would need to be applied to inspect dimensions to design drawings.  Although this will only have a small effect to the measurement and inspection, for tight tolerance and critical components, all uncertainties must be considered.

Nadcap Measurement for Aerospace

Our specially designed environmentally-controlled metrology cell has been optimised for 3D optical measurement, using criteria outlined in ISO 17025.  Establishing this critical level of control enabled us to achieve the high-calibre industry Nadcap standard for Measurement and Inspection using 3D structured Light, as recognised by leading Aerospace companies. Physical Digital pride ourselves on being the first in the world to achieve this accreditation, and maintain it alongside the supporting Quality Management System, accredited by Nadcap for AC 7004 as well as ISO 9001.

For more information on our automated 3D Scanning please contact us on 01483 750200 or email

“Automated 3D scanning is an incredibly powerful metrology tool that can be implemented as a measurement solution across a huge range of industries and applications. The ability to create a project template which can then be used again for batches of parts with complete repeatability is invaluable to accurately assess the performance of a production process.”

Hugh ShuttleworthSenior Metrology Applications Engineer


To find out how our 3D scanning services carried out by our expert engineers can add value to your business and transform your project call us, email or fill out the contact form.

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