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From Real Life to Digital Models, All Thanks to Light
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The practice of using laser and other types of scanners to reverse engineer various real world items - from small car parts to entire buildings - has been on the rise. From its inception as a military technology a few decades ago, it has done nothing but get better and become more widely utilized.

And while there are still some people in the engineering world who don't use it and many not aware of the many applications, this is changing. According to industry professionals, the future looks bright for the technology of using light to capture shapes.

The number of ways one can use scanning is limited only by your imagination. Scansite is a full service reverse engineering and 3D digitizing studio in California, and they have worked on many different types of projects.

The types of projects they have done are a good example of the various applications the reverse engineering scan data has. "We just did a Formula One race car and we've done a lot of classic autos," said Lisa Federici, president of Scansite. These automotive customers then took the scan data to make more parts or make scale models to test.

But it's not only manufacturing where reverse engineering or as-built modeling as it's referred to in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) space is useful; Scansite has worked on projects in manufacturing, architecture, automotive, aerospace and even art and artifacts. For example, they have scanned a triceratops dinosaur for the Smithsonian; works of art by Degas, Bernini, Michelangelo and more; models from the movie Star Wars; uniquely shaped houses and much more. This scan data was then used for digital archives or to make models and copies.

Scansite


Scansite
Scansite digitizing a helicopterís air intake and the CAD model.


Scanning technology has been getting cheaper and easier to use, so "more people are becoming aware of it and using it more," said Steve Kersen, vice president of sales and marketing at NVision. NVision, Inc. is one of the many companies that manufacture scanners and software to process the scan data. Kersen has seen increased use of scanning but he hopes that it continues to grow. "We've been doing this for 22 years, and we do a pretty effective PR job but we'll still be at trade shows where people just aren't aware of this technology, and donít know the hardware and software exist," he said. "The words reverse engineering I don't think are generic yet."

NVision
A NVision hand-held scanner imaging turbine blades.

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Published 2012-05-14 00:00:00