Laser scanners are among the most powerful kind of 3D laser scanners. The evolution of these scanners is what will eventually allow 3D printers to be household appliances, but there are numerous other practical usages right now. Let’s look at six of the most common.
1. Robotic Control
Laser “eyes” have been in use as robotic control systems for many decades now, but 3D laser scanners allow that control to be much more sophisticated. Sophistication is not just a matter of precision but speed as well. Some electronic components require precisions within microns, but the ability to move at great speed makes modern production lines so much more profitable.
2. Virtual Cinematography
Virtual cinematography is set of computer graphics techniques that have transformed the entertainment industry. In particular, this science has transformed movies and video games. The big popcorn films that generate billions each summer wouldn’t be possible without it, and motion capture has made animation so realistic that games are not only more immersive but challenging the cinematic nature of films themselves.
3. Reverse Engineering
Sometimes, the only way to understand a foreign technology is to analyze it in reverse. This process is often referred to as reverse or backward engineering. A 3D scanner provides numerous advantages to this process, such as the ability to digitize in a freeform manner or change shapes gradually. Machines that measure coordinates, on the other hand, can only appreciate simple dimensions.
4. Real Estate
The real estate industry is using 3D lasers to scan homes and other properties for sale. Coupled with 3D images, this allows for highly detailed and very accurate models that can be accessed online. This is transforming the industry because buyers all over the country and the world even can be tantalized by properties they may have not otherwise had the opportunity to see.
5. Law Enforcement
In a future not too distant, law enforcement agencies will use 3D printers to create ammunition and other supplies on demand, but they’re already using laser scanners and have been for some time. These devices allow forensic scientists to accurately assess bullet trajectories, model crime and accident scenes and perform bloodstain pattern analysis. Currently, this equipment is limited to the FBI and large CSI centers, but it will eventually become cost-effective enough to be pervasive.
6. 3D Photography
Laser scanners with 3D capabilities are also used to create 3D images, and cameras with these capabilities will someday be as ubiquitous as smartphone cameras. Companies are already selling 3D portraits, which can also be turned into 3D figurines or modeled in software or online. Such images can allow the viewer to rotate around the image and can be enjoyed on 3DTVs as well.