Since their introduction in the late 90’s, 3D laser scanning services have provided engineering firms with a way to collect the precise spatial data of environments, spaces, and objects. Engineering firms use this data for numerous purposes, one of which is mechanical design. In this article, we look at six ways 3D scanning services benefit mechanical design.
1. Front-end engineering
Front-end engineering refers to the “front-end” of a mechanical project, a time when changes can be implemented with minimal effect on project cost. Laser scanning simplifies front-end engineering by indicating problems such as warping, under trimming, over trimming, and performance surface issues. Engineers correct these problems by editing a CAD data model that contains an object’s scan information. Unlike drawings produced by traditional surveying methods, CAD models can be directly manufactured from.
2. Retrofitting existing plants and facilities
Retrofitting is a cost-effective alternative to replacing older machines in plants and facilities. Before the retrofitting process commences, the following measurements may be required: measurement of parts that link the existing technology with the new technology, measurement of other elements within the machinery environment (e.g., piping), and the measurement of accessible floor space within the machinery’s environment. Laser surveying can gather these measurements in a single surveying session.
3. Fabrication inspection
Fabrication inspection is the inspection of fabricated parts, such as parts for bridges, road signs, and automobiles. Problems commonly experienced by fabricated parts include: warping, under trimming, over trimming, and improper thickness. Laser surveying identifies these problems through the use of: color map deviation, which can show warping, under trimming, and over trimming; cross-sectional analysis, which can identify an improper thickness; and geometric dimension and tolerancing, which can track specific measurements across multiple parts.
4. Reverse engineering
Reverse engineering projects that use scanning include, designing new parts to fit legacy parts; modeling high performance surfaces; and redesigning parts to eliminate manufacturing defects. Laser surveying benefits reverse engineering by offering precise data that can be expressed in editable data models.
5. Interference checking
Interference checking assesses whether design plans interfere with existing design or are feasible in the first place. Some common concerns of interference checking are: clearance and connection points, pipe runs, code deviation, and feasibility of construction.
6. 3D laser scanning services for conceptual designs
Laser surveying allows engineers to model conceptual designs using three types of data models. The first are polygon mesh models, which are slightly editable and are used for visualization purposes. The second are surface models, which are editable at their surface and are ideal for modeling organic and artistic shapes. The third are solid CAD models, which are fully editable and can incorporate design intent.