3D Scanning and Inspection


ADC’s 3D Scanning Services:

For part inspection, analysis, reverse-engineering, design, historic/art preservation and more, 3D scanning is a quick, thorough and cost-effective method for capturing real-world objects in digital space.

What is 3D scanning?

The process of collecting data points of a surface to accurately represent an object in digital three-dimensional space. The data points are recorded on an XYZ coordinate system. As points are collected, they cover an object’s surface creating a “point cloud” in the exact shape and size of the object. The point cloud can then be rendered into a mesh (.STL) where all the points are connected with lines to create a surface made up completely of triangles.

What is 3D scanning used for?

3D scan data allows an object to be examined and measured digitally. There are two main avenues to utilize scan data: Inspection (dimensional analysis) and Reverse-Engineering (object replication).

  • Part to CAD comparison
  • Part to Part comparison
  • First Article Inspection (FAI)
  • Production Part Approval Process (PPAP)

  • CAD models
    • NURBS
    • Idealized .STP model
    • Fully parametric model
    • Manufacturable model
    • 3D printing (Additive Manufacturing)
    • Prototyping

Other 3D Scanning Applications: Design and Preservation Scan data can be used:


  • When designing around an object or within a space.
    • For clearance or packaging reasons.
  • When designing a component for an existing part.
    • Mounting locations, clearance, etc.
  • CNC Machining.
    • When modifying an existing part.
    • Adding a unique object or medallion to an existing model or part.
  • Organic Shapes.
    • When splicing complex real-world shapes into geometric models.
    • For modeling handmade art or models.
  • Preservation
    • A digital record of sculptures, carvings and clay creations.
    • Make complete models from multiple broken components.
  • When CAD is not available
    • For parts designed and manufactured pre-CAD.
    • When CAD documentation does not match the physical object.

Advantages of laser and structured light scanning


  • Non-destructive.
  • No contact required.
  • No part size restrictions.
    • Very large objects can be scanned when coupled with photogrammetry.
  • Mobility.
    • The scanner can come to you.
  • Minimal production down time.
    • Keep tooling in place to keep production going.
  • Total alignment freedom.
    • Digitized parts can be aligned any number of ways for inspection compared to traditional CMM.
  • High Resolution.
    • Structured light scanning can capture millions of points in one snapshot, compared to hundreds of points that would take hours with a traditional CMM.
  • High accuracy.
    • Up to .0005”.
  • Speed.
    • Most objects can be scanned in an hour or two.


  • Internal Geometry.
    • Parts with complex internal geometry require sectioning or CT scanning.
  • Rigidity.
    • Very soft or flimsy parts can be difficult to digitize. Restraining fixtures can be used to hold parts stationary.
  • Reflectivity and Opacity.
    • Most reflective surfaces require paint or talcum powder coating.
    • Transparent and translucent materials require coating.

Scanning services offered by ADC:

  • Structured Light
  • Laser Light
  • Photogrammetry
  • CMM
  • CT scanning

What objects can be light scanned?

Almost any object can be 3D scanned regardless of size, shape, material or even location.

  • Size: As small as grain of rice, as large as an airplane and everything in between.
    • Coupling structured-light and laser-light scanners with photogrammetry makes digitizing very large objects possible and accurate.
  • Shape: Any shaped part can be scanned.
    • Intricate geometry in tight areas is possible but, can be difficult to capture.
  • Material: Most any material can be scanned.
    • Shiny, dark and transparent materials can be scanned after a temporary coating is applied.
    • Materials such as, rubber and silicone that cannot maintain their shape may need a fixture.
  • Assemblies: Individual parts or assembled machines can be scanned.
    • Cars, construction equipment, engines, part assemblies and more can be scanned whole or as individual parts.
  • Location: Items can be shipped to ADC or ADC can come to the item.
    • For large, time-sensitive, secret, production dependent items ADC offers on-site scanning.
    • On-site services require space around the object for the scanning equipment.
    • ADC is able to receive and scan most objects at its lab facility.

Have a 3D scanning or reverse engineering project you need help with? Click the link below and fill out our contact form.

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