Laser scanning is the manufacturing of a 3D computer model from a physical or real world object by passing a thin laser light beam over its surface and thereby mapping its outside form. The physical object may be just about anything, so long as it has sufficient surface opacity [or dullness] to enable the scanner to see the laser beam.
Once the object has been scanned by the laser, it is worked on in a specialised computer program in which it is converted into a solid 3D Computer Model.
Once you have a 3D CAD model, you are able to have your object manufactured.
There are various methods for manufacturing an object, the currently popular methods are:
Subtractive manufacturing or commonly called “CNC Machining”
Mill, Router, Lathe, laser cutter, plasma cutter. In this process, material is removed from a block or plate to reveal the object you are manufacturing. Sometimes further finishing is required to complete the product to the required quality.
CNC Machining is most suited to mass production, small production and one off pieces. Suitable for hundreds of parts. With This process your object is manufactured by using a computer driven machine to cut it out of a block or plate of material.
Common items produced on a cnc machine are signs, vacuum moulds, surfboards, parts for furniture, sheet metal parts, machine replacement parts, plastic injection moulds etc.
This process is commonly called 3D Printing.
Here a very tiny quantity of liquid material is deposited in a pattern driven by a CNC printing program. Imagine a machine that puts down sticky grains of sand in order to build a sand castle…this is essentially what 3D printing is.
This method is most suited to one off jobs but as the technology improves, it becomes more and more suitable to higher volumes of production.
Types are items are figurines for animation, medical parts, prosthetics, prototypes and samples.
Suitable for hundreds of thousands of parts.
A typical job here is the mould for say, a car seatbelt cover, a hair comb… toothbrush… the mouse in your hand… the list is really endless!
Do I Need It?
I need somebody with a laser scanner if I want to reproduce my object in the physical world. I may for example, need a mould CNC machined so that I can make many thousands of my parts, for example, a toothbrush… or I may need my product 3D printed such as a prosthetic arm and hand, or a limb.