How To Bridge 3D Scanning With 3D CAD?
Did you know that 3D scanning has existed since ancient Egypt? They created the early principles of reverse engineering by making 3D plaster-cast replicas, but maybe not in the way we think of 3D scanning today. Today’s scanners, which employ laser and structured light technology, can capture extremely precise scans of objects ranging from very tiny, complex objects to much larger objects in a fraction of the time! It’s easy to see how much this technology has progressed over time, as well as the many industries that 3D scanning is helping to transform. We’ll go into some of the ways you can get your 3D scanning data into a 3D CAD environment so you can interact with it, control it, and make the most of it in this post.
Starting with the scan data in its raw form
As a TriMech Application Engineer, I am lucky in that I not only get to use some incredible, versatile products, but I also get to see how our customers use them.
Applications for 3D Scanning
The Artec 3D scanners are one of the devices that I really enjoy working with! These incredible tools enable customers to capture point cloud data, are simple to use, and are a huge help to anyone who needs to capture data quickly and easily. They work with Artec Studio software to allow you to export a number of mesh data file formats, including STL, OBJ, PLY, and WRL, to name a few.
Artec Space Spider is a fictional character.
Mesh Files in Action
Mesh files present a problem in that they cannot be modified using standard SOLIDWORKS CAD tools. They’re made up of a sequence of interconnected triangles (also known as tessellations).
This isn’t to say that mesh files aren’t valuable. Although you can 3D print directly from the mesh file, there are also options for converting the mesh into workable features like surfaces and curves that can be used in 3D solid modelling.
There are some of the possibilities:
Scan To 3D Solidworks (Add-in for SOLIDWORKS Professional/Premium):
- Ability to edit and clean up meshes, as well as create surfaces and curves
ScanTo3D is a 3D scanning software.
- Mesh Modeling Software (SOLIDWORKS 2018 and newer)
- Converting to a mesh body is a useful function.
- Mesh bodies combined (Add, Subtract, Combine)
- SOLIDWORKS 2018 includes mesh modelling as well.
Mesh Bodies Direct Editing (Scan To 3D SOLIDWORKS 2021)
- Edit tessellated geometry directly.
- Operational slashes
- SOLIDWORKS Geomagic Delete and Fill
- Make a mesh out of scan results.
- Edit/repair advanced meshes
- Mesh cleanup software for advanced users
- Capability to extract features (Extrude, Revolve, Sweep)
Reverse Engineering of Scan Data
Do you need to replace a component but don’t have a CAD model or documents on which to base your fabrication? It’s no problem! Geomagic for SOLIDWORKS is the best integrated 3D Scan to CAD solution we’ve found that bridges this gap if you want to reverse engineer from your mesh info.
SOLIDWORKS Toolbar Geomagic
A user can extract geometry, build sketches, and model features using a history-based modelling workflow while referencing the original imported mesh data. Use SOLIDWORKS features you already know and love to build a hybrid modelling approach.
- SOLIDWORKS hybrid platform in Geomagic
- And complex surfaces can be extracted!
- Geomagic for SOLIDWORKS: Complex Surfaces
But what if the geometry is considerably more complicated? If your design includes a lot of freeform, swoopy surfaces, you can use the Auto Surface command to convert the mesh to a surface for you. Imagine trying to extract features for a dinosaur model like this. Neither do I!
- Solidworks SolidWorks SolidWorks SolidWorks SolidWorks SolidWorks SolidWork
- SOLIDWORKS Auto Surface feature was used to convert data.
- It took less than 3 minutes to convert all of the data using the Auto Surface function!
- >> Find out more about reverse engineering with 3D scanning.
- You can create incredible designs with the various options for working with mesh data.
- To perfect your models, use these different options to edit geometries and add and edit design features.