What Is 3D Scanning? What You Need to Know

What Is 3D Scanning? What You Need to Know

There’s no doubt about it. 3D scanning is a booming industry.

Expected to become an $8 billion industry by 2025, more and more companies are using 3D scanners for their work. But what is 3D scanning and why are so many people crazy about it?

That’s what we’ll be looking at today. Read on to find out more about 3D scanning, its applications, its benefits, as well as its future in today’s society.

What Is 3D Scanning?

So what is 3D scanning anyway?

It refers to a non-contact, non-destructive technology that captures the shape of a physical object using laser lights. You end up with a 3D digital rendering of whatever you’ve scanned, hence the name “3D scanning.”

3D laser scanners use what’s called “point clouds” of data based on an object’s surface.

It captures the exact size, dimensions, and overall shape of a computer. Modern 3D laser scanners can measure fine details and shapes to generate point clouds.

3D scanning is best when you need accurate measurements for surfaces that are hard to measure using traditional means. Objects with complicated geometries and complex surfaces are best suited for 3D scanning.

How Does 3D Scanning Work?

Describing exactly how 3D scanning works is a pretty daunting task, so we’ll boil it down to the basics to get a better understanding. It’s all about getting the data, modeling the object, and reverse engineering.

Acquire Data

First, the object is placed on the bed of a digitizer. You then use software to drive a laser probe above it. The probe, along with two cameras records the distance and shape while it sweeps the object.

Resulting Informaiton

The object’s shape will be presented as millions of “point cloud” points on your computer. This is the result of the entire surface shape. The process is incredibly fast, so it’ll take no time at all.


After the big point cloud point files are rendered, they’re translated to a three-dimensional representation of the object. You’ll also use other software packages to post-process the image.

Reverse Engineering

After 3D models are rendered, they can help reproduce the physical version of the digital project. This is what’s known as reverse engineering a 3D scanned object.

3D Scanning Applications

Now let’s discuss what 3D scanning is actually used for.

3D scanners’ ability to render three-dimensional objects has been very useful in STEM research in similar disciplines. It’s also been instrumental for modern architects. Let’s look at a few examples here:


Modern classrooms are getting more tech-savvy, with many institutions using VR and other technology to boost learning. 3D scanning is a big part of this trend.

It’s an essential tool for a variety of courses, including geography and health. Students can better visualize topography as well as part of the human body.

Fundamental engineering courses and tech-ed classes are also using 3D scanning for their projects. Kids are being taught how to use 3D scanners and printers, which will become useful for their post-high school careers.

3D scanning opens up a lot of avenues, especially for students looking to go into STEM.


3D scanning allows car manufacturers and designers to scan full-size cars in as little as a few hours. This saves a lot of preparation and cleanup time when it comes to making different parts.

This is crucial for not only manufacturing parts, but estimating the dimensions so no mistakes are made. More and more designers are using 3D scanning to develop their products.

Stunt cars or cars used in films that need specialized parts can benefit from 3D scanning as well. By using less time to prepare and calculate dimensions, you can develop these different tools much faster.


3D scanning is becoming an essential tool for creating scale models. It’s also used to prep archaeological sites for excavation. Construction workers use it to study and survey sites as well.

Complex and essential structures like water buildings and bridges benefit greatly from 3D scanners.

Laser scanners can render large areas and capture data points to calculate distances and locations of the 3D space. This greatly helps architects figure out where and how to build structures.


3D scanning is becoming a staple of modern healthcare to create specialized implants and prosthetics.

3D scanners also help providers evaluate and study patients’ bodies without rigorous tests. It’s safer and more efficient than x-rays and MRIs.

Dentists are also using 3D scanners to help create dentures and crowns that are more specialized for each patient.


3D scanning also lets you design and create the perfect jewelry parts. This allows for a comfortable fit for virtually any ring or accessory.

By scanning jewelry, users can customize the accessories that they want while ensuring the right fit. Creating replicas is also made much faster using 3D technology.

Art History

Artists can now 3D scan different cultures and other works to safely recreate or replicate them. By using different software, old art can be repurposed without actually harming its original copies.

Benefits of 3D Scanning

The biggest benefit of 3D scanning is that it saves designers a lot of time. By using data points instead of physical measurements, all you have to do is watch the computer do much of the actual calculations.

Capturing specific details and complicated geometry is made much more foolproof with 3D scanning.

Architects and engineers also get more reliable data through 3D scanning.  If you’re designing a project or a machine, you can produce the right parts on the first try.

Construction workers can manage projects accurately and safely. Art historians can also get detailed descriptions of valuable pieces without harming them.

Leverage 3D Scanning Today

3D scanning is becoming an essential tool for many industries, and there’s no better time to adopt it than now. Use this article to understand why it’s so useful and adopt it for your company today.

Need reliable 3D scanning for objects big or small? Contact us today and we’ll get you started on a solution right away!

7 Factors to Consider When Choosing 3D Scanners

Are you searching for a 3D scanner for your upcoming project?

3D scanning continues to make a mark across various industries from around the world. Designers use it for making prototypes. Car manufacturers also rely on 3D scanning to fabricate custom parts.

With so many options available today, choosing 3D scanners can be tricky. Aside from understanding how 3D scanners work, you need to know the key factors for choosing one.

Continue reading below for seven of the most important ones to consider. It allows you to make a more informed decision for your 3D-scanning needs.

1. Handheld or Stationary?

When choosing 3D scanners, one of the first things you need to determine is the type of 3D scanner you need. There are two types of 3D scanners: the handheld and the stationary. Let’s try to differentiate the two.

As the name implies, a handheld 3D scanner requires holding to operate. You can move the device around the object you’re scanning. Generally, if you cannot move your subject, a handheld scanner is your best bet.

On the flip side, the stationary scanner remains in the same place while scanning. In this case, the operator must move the object during the scanning process. The device will scan until it captures the entire object’s surface.

Also, some 3D scanners may come with software that merges the scans during the process. Others do it after finishing the scan.

2.  The Coverage and Volume

You also need to consider the 3D scanner’s coverage and volume. It’s the area that the scanner can capture. Ideally, you want a scanner that matches your size and resolution needs. Limit your overhead spending if the scanner doesn’t meet your requirements.

For example, if you’re scanning large objects, an expensive scanner may give the necessary coverage. These scanners can even cover room-sized objects.

On the other hand, if you’re scanning smaller objects, a handheld scanner is often enough for the job.

3. The Accuracy vs the Price Tag

When scouting for scanner options, find the balance between the scanner’s accuracy and costs. Generally, the more accurate the 3D scanner is, the more expensive they become.

Some scanning jobs require top-notch accuracy. For example, museums and cultural heritage preservationists use 3D laser scanning to digitally capture and preserve important historical artifacts. These 3D scanners feature an offset camera and projected light.

These key elements allow the scanners to triangulate points during scanning. Apart from accuracy, you should also consider the resolution. It’s the distance between different captured points at any given scan distance.

Hence, if the details of the object are smaller than the scanner’s resolution, expect the results to miss these smaller details.

Don’t always go for the cheapest. These scanners are investments that require hefty initial investments. Always lean toward performance when striking a compromise with costs.

4. Speed Matters When Choosing 3D Scanners

Speed is another important factor for choosing 3D scanners. It’s crucial especially if your job is time-sensitive. For example, hospitals and laboratories need 3D scanners that can swiftly scan objects without compromising quality.

Key elements determine the speed of a 3D scanner. These include a combination of frame rate, processing rate, data acquisition rate, and the quality of algorithms.

Also, the speed measurement of the scanners differs depending on the type of technology they use. For structured light 3D scanners, calculate the speed using the number of points and the number of frames they can capture per second.

With a faster 3D scanner, you get to capture more objects faster. In turn, you can boost your productivity and reduce your costs.

5. User-Friendliness Counts

For starters, you shouldn’t have a hard time learning how to operate the 3D scanner. It’s uncommon for most people to encounter or use a 3D scanner.

Moreover, some scanners require a steep learning curve to master. If you want something that you can use in a matter of minutes, go for scanners with plug-and-play features.

Also, consider the maintenance that comes with the scanner. With the sensitive parts inside the scanners, most of them require top-notch maintenance. These include calibration and optic cleaning.

Follow the scanner’s maintenance procedures. If it requires occasional checkups, don’t hesitate to take it to the manufacturer. Never go for DIY since it invalidates their warranty.

6. Versatility and Portability

If your scanning requirements involve a lot of moving, consider the 3D scanner’s flexibility and portability. It’s especially important when you’re moving from one location to another. If you work in a controlled field like in a laboratory, a stationary scanner is a good option.

The same thing goes if you’re capturing large objects. If you’re scanning smaller objects from difficult areas, a handheld scanner is all you need.

Additionally, you need to look at the software features. A powerful 3D software is the best for scanning and processing objects of various sizes.

7. The Source

It’s not enough to look at the 3D scanner features when picking the best device. You should also examine the source of the scanners. Make sure to buy from a reputable company.

Check the company’s track record. Find out what their clients are saying about their products. Alternatively, you may consider connecting with a company that offers 3D scanning services.

This is perfect if you don’t have the luxury of time to study, master, and perform the scanning process.

Let Us Provide Your 3D Scanning Needs

Now that you know the key factors to consider, choosing 3D scanners will not be as confusing as before. In case you don’t have the budget for a 3D scanner, you can still enjoy superior 3D scanning services through NT Consulting.

We offer an extensive lineup of top-notch scanning services. Connect with us and request a quote. Let’s work on your 3D scanning needs, today!

LIDAR Technology 101: What Is It and How Does It Work?

Are you staying ahead of the technology curve?

The steady march of visual effects technology means the newest way to create models could leave your VFX team in the dust. LiDAR technology is the next big break for speeding up visual effects work, and anyone not using it could see their contracts wither away.

LiDAR has existed in many forms since the early 1960s and was first developed to study clouds and pollution for weather research. Now, LiDAR is a core component to several industries to cut costs and save time.

How popular is LiDAR technology? It has become central to many engineering and visual effects firms due to its cost-efficiency. As a result, the market for LiDAR will more than double from $1.1 billion to $ 2.8 billion over five years.

Not up to speed on LiDAR? Read on to find out what it does and how your team can leverage it to create models at a fraction of the time and cost.

What Is LiDAR Technology?

LiDAR, or Light Detection and Ranging, is a method for determining ranges using a light pulse that reflects off a surface and then measures the time it takes for that light to return to the receiver.  The LiDAR receiver calculates and stores the amount of time (also known as time-of-flight) for later use.

After recording thousands of these light pulses, a computer reads the data to produce a high-resolution point cloud of information that reflects what you see in real life.

A World in a Point-Cloud

Point-Clouds are the end product of a LiDAR scan; each laser pulse produces a coordinate the system then records on a computer. Objects are then recreated in software using millions (sometimes billions) of points, creating a high-resolution 3D model with the exact dimensions as the real-life object.

This high-resolution 3D model is turned into a mesh object and animated or texturized by VFX teams, effectively cutting out the modeling part of asset creation.

The Many Applications for LiDAR Scanning

The opportunities are endless when it comes to using LiDAR. Several industries are taking advantage of the technology by cutting down on costs that have plagued them for decades.

Land surveying companies used to send out entire crews of engineers with dozens of tools to calculate the features of any given landscape. Now they can use a single drone with LiDAR to scan land, vegetation, and buildings simultaneously.

Transportation and car companies are also betting on LiDAR. Removing the need for human drivers means any car can become an autonomous taxi, and human error will no longer factor in accidents.

The visual effects industry is poised to see the most significant benefit early on. LiDAR technology is perfect for recreating just about any object in 3D. Moreover, the process is completed at a fraction of the time and cost compared to creating assets by hand.

Building Out Reality

LiDAR hits its stride when used for VFX and has recently been used in the film industry to create a realistic representation of the Las Vegas strip with stunning detail. A concept that would have taken years to be built in 3D by artists alone.

Creating realistic building models is achieved by using aerial drones with LiDAR. The drones fly around a building and capture every detail down to 2mm in size. Once uploaded to the computer, VFX artists can take the point-cloud data and create 3D models of the building.

In comparison, the old way requires artists to cross-reference building measurements, blueprints, and thousands of pictures to craft the structure by hand.

Quality control is also vital for any VFX team; LiDAR solves this issue by capturing building detail with surprising accuracy, reducing time spent fixing sizing and detail errors associated with any project.

Use Real Models to Make Realistic Models

LiDAR is the perfect tool for creating 3D models of real-life people. For example, 3D scanning can ensure every wrinkle and detail in clothing is replicated without building a model by hand.

Is your visual effects department short on time? With LiDAR, you can shave weeks off the process by having your digital doubles scanned in minutes, producing the base model that would take your artists weeks to complete.

Because LiDAR replaces the modeling stage of character creation, VFX artists can go straight to rigging and meshing without having to worry about skewing the character’s size or dimensions during the creation process.

LiDAR technology can also cut down on the ‘uncanny valley’ effect seen in 3D models of humans. Point-Cloud models ensure every dimension down to the shape of a character’s ear cartilage is accurately represented.

Scan Almost Any Object

LiDAR is perfect for scanning props used in video games and movies. You can accurately recreate objects in 3D with stunning accuracy, allowing those real-to-digital scene transitions to be as convincing as possible without having to pay AAA costs.

Even companies selling furniture or equipment can give an accurate representation of their products. New technology allows companies to put their 3D models in augmented reality so customers can see how products would fit in their homes and hands.

See What LiDAR Can Do for You

Staying ahead of the technology curve is essential for visual effects companies. If you lag, your competitors will price you out of the industry, and LiDAR technology is the next step to making your work more efficient.

While LiDAR scanners are still expensive to buy, there are plenty of services out there willing to scan your projects for you at a fraction of the price. But, of course, the biggest challenge is finding them, and that’s where we come in.

Don’t waste time hiring a legion of VFX artists to hand-build 3d models for your next filming or gaming project. Instead, get in touch with us today and see what our LiDAR services can do for you.

The Advantages of Photogrammetry Via Digital Doubles and Environments

Did you know 58.9 million people in the US will use VR in 2021? With numbers like that, it’s pretty safe to say the VR is not a fad.

There has been steady growth in the world of virtual reality, and with the technological advances being made with virtual set building, the landscape of digital production is changing.

If you work in the world of VFX, you know how vital workflow and schedule are. With all of these new opportunities on the horizon, you need to use the tools available to you.

Enter photogrammetry.

To learn more about the advantages of photogrammetry, keep reading and explore the tools that will make your life much easier.

What is Photogrammetry?

Photogrammetry is a type of 3D scanning using 2D images. It creates a detailed 3D model by taking a ton of photos from different angles to portray an object based on its geometry accurately.

You may be wondering how 2D photos can turn into a hyper-detailed 3D model, and the answer is software. Running your pictures through a certain type of software transforms all of your photos into something new.

To do this, you need hundreds of photos. Like pretty much anything in VFX, if you start on a shaky foundation, everything will eventually fall apart down the line, so you want to make sure you are starting off right.

Advantages of Photogrammetry

The advantages of photogrammetry are apparent the moment you see a 3D model made from one of these scans. Due to the nature of the scan, the texture and detail are incredible, and your scans are in full color.

Photogrammetry is also a little more accessible than traditional 3D scanning due to the nature of the process and the equipment required. You do want to make sure you know what you’re doing when you start taking your photos for the scan, though. If you miss key elements, it can cost you time and money. It’s usually best to leave the photo-taking to the professionals.

Uses of Photogrammetry

You can use photogrammetry for a variety of reasons. From VFX workflows to 3D printing, using photogrammetry can make your life so much easier. Here are a few neat examples of how you can use photogrammetry to its full potential.


You can use photogrammetry to map and scan incredibly realistic indoor and outdoor environments. To do this, you should scout out the location and take detailed measurements. Also, make a note of anything that may be an issue when you start taking your photos, like potential movement.

If you are outdoors, using a drone to take your photogrammetry photos is a fantastic idea. A drone can help you capture large buildings and spaces with relative ease. You will have to battle the weather, though, so plan a rain date if you are doing outdoor scans.

Once you have the scans done, you can import them into your software and are now working with incredibly detailed environments. You may need to make a couple of adjustments or fix some of the maps, but for the most part, you will have a realistic environment to work off of.

You can use these environments in VR or a VFX pipeline.

Digital Doubles

You can use photogrammetry to create detailed digital doubles. To do this, you’ll want to take a minimum of two hundred pictures of your model’s head to get the king of detail required. You also want to make sure you have photos from all angles, even ones that may seem extreme. This will help when you eventually import the images for your scan.

Your model should have a neutral expression and be in relatively flat lighting that does not move throughout the filming process.

What you get once you’re done is a highly detailed, digital double that you can further sculpt, texture, and rig.

3D Printing

One of the really neat things photogrammetry can do is turn objects you scan into 3D models that you can then 3D print. For example, if you are looking to get a realistic 3D model of yourself or something in your home, you can use photogrammetry.

Take all of the necessary pictures of your object, import them into the software, make any adjustments, and you can start printing.


If you are going into film production, it’s necessary to scout out locations. Having a realistic scan of the location, you will be filming in can help in so many ways. You can also use these scans if you are thinking about doing an entirely virtual production as well.

During pre-production, a select amount of the crew will go to a location and take pictures, maybe grab the floor plans and then try to visualize how the set will look on the day of filming.

By taking photogrammetry scans of the location, you have a 3D rendering of the location to revisit whenever you want. Photos and floor plans can’t beat that.

Use the Latest Tech to Make Your Workflow Easier

As a VFX professional, you know how important it is to work with high-quality elements. Getting accurate texture maps and lighting can add a sense of realism you can’t get anywhere else. There are so many advantages of photogrammetry. If you want to add it to your tool kit, we don’t blame you.

Contact us for a quote on your next project, and get the 20+ years of experience Nick Tesi VFX consulting can provide.