3D Scanning and Prototyping

This week’s class on 3D scanning was much-anticipated. Since the beginning of this class, I’ve been eager to test out the technology myself, and learn more about its various applications. We were able to actually see the entire process with the help of a few class volunteers who had their heads scanned. On the actual application, users specify what they’re scanning, and then the camera adjusts to detect edges accordingly. It then gradually fills in the object with more precision as the user moves the camera around the object. I was amazed to see the amount of detail that the scanner was actually able to capture, and after looking at the final products of other classmates’ scans, I’m amazed by how clearly the prints came through as well.

While it was fun to play around and explore the recreational side of these tools, I also enjoyed learning about how large corporations are using 3D scanning for prototyping and manufacturing processes. In one of the videos for this week, Jay Leno was able to create an exact copy of an auto part by scanning and printing it. After scanning the part, he could even modify it to make it more functional by adding a ventilation system prior to printing. Being able to scan and print allows users to make objects that might no longer be on the market, or could be quite expensive.

The video also mentioned that NASA actually has a 3D scanner and milling machine on their space station. I was intrigued so I did a bit more research—this article details how the first object (a wrench) was printed using the 3D printer on the space station, and was completed in 4 hours in zero gravity! Clearly, there are numerous applications for 3D scanning across industries and various parts of the value chain.

2 thoughts on “3D Scanning and Prototyping”

  1. Hey Ria,

    Thanks for sharing that article. I found it super interesting how much technology is advancing and how we can use it to better understand the universe! I was also amazed by the scanners although I did not get to make a model of my own.

  2. Ria,

    Thanks for your post! I got to read your article on ‘extraterrestrial’ 3D printing and it is really fascinating. It’s interesting to consider the implications of 3D printing outside of the traditional forces of nature we experience on earth. As we begin to start manned missions to Mars in the coming decades, I’m sure 3D printing key parts/supplies will become very useful.


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