3D Scanning Tip #1: How to 3D Scan Large, Thin Objects

A grey car hood provided as an example of the challenge involved in 3D scanning both sides of a large, thin object.

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The Challenge

This 3D scanning tip addresses the challenge of scanning both sides of a large, thin object.

3D scanning an object requires consistent and reliable tracking to efficiently achieve excellent results.  The most common methods for tracking typically rely on either the features of the item being scanned or the use of reflective targets.  These reflective targets can be placed on the item being scanned or around it. Even when reflective targets are used, if the object is large and thin, 3D scanners can easily lose tracking.

We first encountered this challenge when 3D scanning a car hood.  We’re simulating that scenario by using a conference table.  While the thickness of a car hood might be about 2.0 to 2.5 mm thick, this conference table presents the same challenge even though it is thicker.

A screen shot from the EinScan 3D scanning software showing a dialogue box with the message "Tracking Lost".

The Solution

The 3D scanning tip to address this problem is to use a “scanning aid”.  We designed and 3D printed two copies of this scanning aid, shown to the right. We then applied reflective targets to the surfaces.  Lastly, we positioned these scanning aids and clamped them in a fixed position as shown.  These scanning aids provide a sufficient number of reflective targets in the required orientations to ensure proper tracking while the scanner moves around the edge of the thin object being scanned.

If you don’t have CAD software and/or a 3D printer, try using a portion of a box or some other object that will be dimensionally stable while 3D scanning.

Two black 3D scanning aids with reflective targets are clamped in position to enhance tracking while 3D scanning a large, thin object.

At Strategic 3D Solutions, we partner with customers to provide solutions every day. Need help with designing, 3D printing, or 3D scanning for your project? Planning to purchase a 3D printer or 3D scanner? Contact us.

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About the author
Bruce Reimer is a business leader with over 30 years of experience in five industries: 3D printing, defense electronics, forensics, transportation technology, and agriculture equipment. His educational background includes a BS in Engineering and an MBA.

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