3D Scanning as a Quality Assurance Tool

By Brian Metzger on

3D scanning is a powerful tool for designers and engineers. The advantages are clear for many applications when a tool, like the Artec Space Spider, is used to take full color, 3-dimensional scan data of existing objects. Scans like the drill below could be used to reverse engineer the drill’s geometry to create bracketry, packaging material or even can be used to create a new and better version of the same part. Yet many engineers do not consider the power of a 3D scanner as a tool for a Quality Assurance (QA)/Quality Control (QC) application.

3d scanning for quality control

Coordinate Measuring Machine (CMM)

In a traditional QA/QC process, a Coordinate Measuring Machine (CMM) is often used to collect measurements from a manufactured part or assembly and compare those to critical dimensions in the CAD model. The CMM arm does this by moving a touch probe on the surface of the part, point by point. These machines can be very accurate and automated for large numbers of the same part. The disadvantage of a CMM is that it’s typically expensive, stationary and difficult to set up a new project.

Imagine using a small, portable 3D scanner as a supplement or replacement for a CMM in your QA process. Rather than taking dozens of touch point measurements one at a time, you could instead gather millions of data points with the sweep of your arm. The Artec 3D scanners are small, portable, accurate and require minimal setup. All that is needed is a software that can make QA style comparisons between your scan data and the original CAD data. That software is Geomagic Control X.

3d scanning quality control

Geomagic Control X

Geomagic Control X is a complementary software for any 3D scanner. By aligning the original CAD data with the 3D scanned data taken from a manufactured part, Control X can perform all the measurements that are needed for any QA process. In effect, Control X transforms your 3D scanner into a portable CMM.

The Control X process begins by aligning the scan data to the CAD data. This can be done easily as a Best Fit Alignment which uses every surface equally or a Datum Alignment which uses only critical mounting surfaces.

Control X aligns the scan data to the CAD data Control X uses Best Fit alignment





Now a 3D Compare plot can show across the entire model where the actual manufactured part deviates from the idealized CAD geometry. In the image below green surfaces are accurate, red and blue surfaces fall above or below the locations intended in the CAD model.

3D Compare plot in Geomagic Control X

Additional measurements can be defined just as they would in the CAD model. Anything from individual point measurements, dimensions or GD&T can be checked. Simply put, anything a CMM can do can be done in Control X. This can even include the automatic generation and export of a fully detailed report.

Geomagic Control X Geomagic Control X

Geomagic Control X Geomagic Control X

In short, Geomagic Control X is a fully purposed software package to turn 3D scanning into a powerful QA/QC tool.

Interested in learning more about 3D scanning and the possibilities it can create? We have both Artec scanner and Geomagic for SOLIDWORKS training classes available.