Sandwell

Dudley

Walsall / Cannock

Wolverhampton

Birmingham

Redditch / Bromsgrove

3D Scanning & 3D Printing

3D Scanning and 3D printing is a fast growing, innovative and exciting industry. But what exactly is it all about?

Nick Godfrey of Central Scanning tells us all about it here…

What exactly is 3D Scanning?

Using a range of different scanners, 3D scanning is effectively imaging an object and creating a ‘cloud’ of points of that object. Some scanners are laser based, some of them are light based (fringe projection). We point the scanner at the object and then by measuring back the reflectivity, you measure all the points. On some of the scanners we can measure up to 16 million points every time we press a button, laser scanners often more.

Once we have the cloud of points, we then use software to process the data. The software uses clever algorithms, and it links all the data together, creating a ‘triangulated mesh’. This takes all the points, gets rid of some of those on a flat surface, then puts larger triangles on. The most important thing is that the data needs to look the same as the original object both visually and dimensionally.

Where is 3D Scanning used?

3D scanning is really varied and every month, there seems to be someone thinking of a new application for it.

We work with people including artists, sculptors for example who make things out of clay, but then want to replicate it at a larger scale or make multiples of it. We scan those objects and then make a datafile that we can use to create more of them, whether by 3D printing or other means.

We also work with high end engineering companies making engine parts, but 3D Scanning has also contributed to virtual reality and augmented reality. For example, reconstructed crime scenes using scanned data and digital museums containing scanned artifacts.

What is 3D Printing?

There are different versions of 3D printing. One that we focus on is called FDM, or Fuse Deposition Modelling. This takes a spool of plastic wire, which is melted layer by layer. We input data, the software slices this into different levels and that creates a path for the plastic to be laid down on. That is then built up in layers and eventually an object is formed from all those plastic layers.

Other types include resin printers, where you cure resin by UV light and we build up the layers that way. Another technology is laser-based 3D printing involving the use of powder.

Where is 3D Printing used?

Much like 3D Scanning, 3D Printing has lots of uses. We are most involved in 3D Printing for Motorsport, the Car industry, Artists and Medical devices, Industrial products, fixtures and tooling to name a few…

Using 3D printing, we also do a lot of concept models, people that may have designed something that they would like to prototype and show to potential investors. We model it based on their designs or sketches and then we can 3D print it in full colour.

Types of job roles in this industry:

The classic type of role is an Applications Engineer, which is a hands-on role and we also have 3D printing and modelling leads (Designers using CAD software). 3D Print Technician’s are another hands-on role, setting up machines on numerous projects simultaneously. There are also sales/business development roles to look for new customers and develop long term relationships with existing and new clients.

DID YOU KNOW??

The global 3D scanning market size is projected to reach over £10 billion by the end of 2026*! The applications of 3D scanning across diverse industries have had a huge impact on the growth of the market.

*According to Fortune Business Insights