Scanning is Magic!

The past couple of weeks, the digital making class went to the Beckman Institute where we met Geomagic guru, Travis Ross. There, he began to introduce us to the scanning equipment at Beckman and to Geomagic software in the second week.

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Geomagic is a CAD software that focuses mainly on preparing 3D products for print. It’s an extremely useful yet complex tool. Some classmates expressed the issues they encountered when using the software. Sebastian voiced in his post that the “software was a bit too powerful for us to learn in such a short time.” Kay, as well, expressed in her post that “we still have a lot to delve into about this software.”

In class, Travis went through a tutorial for the class that consisted of working with a scan done on a clay model. He went through the process of trimming, filling, smoothing, and dividing parts of the object all done in Geomagic. It is a fairly complicated process and the class tried their best to keep up with Travis.


Travis also worked on cleaning up the racing glove that Arielle brought to Beckman for scanning. Anthony provided some background on the glove in his post:

“The plastic glove is custom made and extremely difficult to replicate for racers. Having a digital copy of a good glove means the ability for a user to create multiple copies using 3D printing!”

During the scanning process of the glove the week before, there were some issues capturing the surface of the glove. Travis decided to spray it with talcum powder so the beams from the scanner could bounce back to the computer. It took multiple scans to make a complete model in the software. It seems that with the right practice and expertise in this type of software that amazing things can be done.

Snapshot of the scanning process for the racing glove

Snapshot of the scanning process for the racing glove

Many classmates started to apply their knowledge of Geomagic to their lives. For example, Jill noted:

“I have a Tupperware container that I absolutely love to carry places when I want lunch on the go. Problem with it is, there’s no great way to carry cutlery with it. I want to scan this existing container, and further add on a pocket that carries forks and knives.”

Noah as well stated:

“…with this software caused me to think about the various economic applications of this technology. Perhaps, I will be able to create my own business concept around this technology. I still will need help to operate the scanner and software, but having this high level overview allows me to be able to think critically about using this technology in my own field.”

Geomagic is a powerful tool in 3D printing that has great potential. It is a little on the pricey side so I would recommend trying to obtain a free trial.

Week 7 & 8: 3D Scanning at Beckman & Geomagic

During these two weeks we learned all about 3D scanning and an editing software called Geomagic. We had already done a bit of 3D scanning a few weeks ago when we made our busts, but this was a completely different process.

First off, Travis Ross, our tour guide and guest speaker led our session in Beckman and taught us how the basics of Geomagic. We split up into groups because of room size constraints in the lab with the 3D scanner we were working with. I was in the second round group.

I started on the 4th floor of Beckman and got to see a bunch of 3D printed objects using a variety of materials not used in the Maker Lab. We got to compare the materials and really see what other 3D printers could do. My personal favorite was the heart print.

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The heart looked so realistic and opened up my eyes to the capabilities of 3D printing.

I’m working on a project right now about medical uses for 3D printing, and this heart may come up again so look out for that post in the coming weeks.


During my time on the 4th floor, I also got to watch a small scale 3D laser scanner in action. It was extremely slow, but it gave us a good idea of the larger scale one we were going to see in the basement. Also, we were told that the smaller scanner could be more useful for certain scans do to limitation on the larger one. The main limitation was surface type. The larger scanner could not process shiny material very well, but the smaller one could.

Moving down to the basement where the main purpose for the trip was intended we got to hear all about the larger scanner. The main component to the scanning process was the platform that the object sits that is being scanned. It was on a rotating disk to reach all side angles, and was capable of tilting up or down to see any missing spots.

When I got down to the basement, there was an object already being worked on that I’m sure the owner (Arielle) will write about in her post. We ended up focusing on that scan the whole time I was in the basement. This is where we were first introduced to the editing software, Geomagic. Once the object was successfully scanned in at many different angles, Geomagic is used to cut out unwanted parts of the scan (like the table it rests on and any components holding the object into place). Side note: every individual scan that is taken must be edited, so the goal is to get the whole object in one scan.

After editing the unwanted parts of the scan, there were some holes that needed to be filled. Most of the time, the holes were minor and could me manually filled without any issues. But sometimes, depending on the object being scanned, there are areas that the scan cannot reach and must be estimated. Travis ran into this issue with the object he was scanning, so he attempted to rotate the platform to a specific angle to try to reach a bit more of the object.

The next time we saw Travis was in our home, the Maker Lab. During this time we were directly using Geomagic on the lab computers (also the main reason why I don’t have any pictures for you this week, sorry). Travis taught us how to trim or fill parts, how to smooth a surface, and how to divide the object into pieces for further editing. Surprising most of his instructions were pretty easy to follow and I was able to do a lot of the things he was showing us how to do. The hardest for me was the dividing up the object because I got a bit behind and missed a step and didn’t get a chance to catch up. But overall, I can say I know how to use some basic functions of Geomagic after this experience.

Again, stay tuned for more with the 3D heart! And apologies for the lack of pictures.