By David

April 28, 2021 at 4:16 pm

Here at J–CAD Inc. we were one of the first companies in North America to begin offering affordable commercial 3D printing services for product designers and creators, to be used for short run 3D printing and prototyping. This was long before consumer 3D printers were widely available, and before most people even knew what 3D printing was!

Since then, a lot has changed in the industry. Almost everyone knows what 3D printing is now, and more and more people are learning about the possibilities of 3D scanning parts and objects. 3D scanning creates a CAD / .STL file that can be used in the 3D printing process, either on a personal 3D printer, or in a commercial setting, for example when creating prototypes and molds for products that are going to be produced on a large scale.

Recently 3D scanning has become a very popular service here at J–CAD, so we thought we’d share some more information about our 3D scanning services, how they work, the kind of projects that can be completed with 3D scanning, along with answering some common questions about the process.

What is a commercial 3D scanning service?

In a nutshell, 3D scanning takes a physical object, and then either uses lasers to create a series of data points, or takes numerous photographs / images of the object, which are then all merged together to create an exact replica of the object in a digital file. This digital version of the object can be manipulated in a CAD design program, or used for purposes such as 3D printing, prototyping, mold making etc. The problem is, it’s very difficult for an individual to get a scan with high enough quality or precision to be useful in commercial prototyping or industrial manufacturing settings. That’s where we come in.

Our commercial 3D part scanning service allows people to send in their part to us for scanning. We then use a machine that 3D scans it and turns it into the CAD file for you, but with very high quality and precision. Because we have commercial fit-for-purpose 3D scanning machines, we can scan objects / parts of all different sizes. That 3D scan can then be used to 3D print a one-off replica part (in the case of car or furniture restoration for example) or to make a mold which can be used to manufacture 1,000’s of those parts. Because we have a full range of services from CAD design right through to 3D printing, prototyping and manufacturing, we’re perfectly placed to create the exact 3D scan and 3D file needed for your project use case.

A great example of 3D scanning in action is a project we did for the Ritz Carlton recently. You can see in that article how we used 3D scanning to create a protective casing for an expensive ship model which would prevent it from getting damaged in transit.

Do you need to use a 3D scanning service near you?

We have noticed that when people are looking for 3D scanning services, they do a lot of these types of searches:

  • 3D scanning service near me
  • 3D laser scanning services near me
  • 3D part scanning service near me

The problem with this approach however, is that commercial 3D scanning is still a fairly niche service, because the equipment to do it is very costly. This means there might not be a 3D scanning service near you, and if there is, it could be prohibitively expensive.

The great thing about cheap same-day shipping however is that you don’t need to find a 3D scanner nearby, and you can instead ship your part to a company like J–CAD, who will not only scan and return your part very quickly, we can also offer the service at a very competitive rate due to our partnerships and economies of scale. It might be cheaper (sometimes by a lot) to mail your part to us to scan, rather than finding someone near you to do the job.

Can’t I just use 3D scanning software on a smartphone or with my camera?

There are plenty of apps nowadays that will let you 3D scan with your smartphone. These are best used by hobbyists however, for a bit of fun, as the 3D scan they create is not good quality, and certainly not high enough resolution to be used for printing accurate parts or creating precise molds. Similarly, using a camera to take the required number of photos needed for accurate 3D file creation would be tedious, overwhelming, or expensive as you would need to set up a rig with a number of cameras attached to it.

Both of these approaches would also require time and knowledge on your part in creating, editing and finalizing the CAD file before it was ready to be used for anything meaningful. It’s much more time and cost effective to use a made-for-purpose 3D scanning service like the one we offer at J–CAD for your project instead.

What do 3d scanning services cost?

Unfortunately this is a very hard question to answer without knowing more about your project. Questions like the following all go into the process of providing an accurate quote:

  • How big is the part you want scanned?
  • Are there multiple parts involved?
  • What will you use the 3D scan for?
  • When do you need the scan completed by?

So when you’re reaching out to us to request a quote please include as much detail as possible as it will help make our quote more accurate.

How do I use your 3D scanning services?

It’s easy! Get in touch and tell us about your project by clicking / tapping the image below. We’ll get back to you with a quote in 5 – 10 minutes of receiving your project information. Once we’ve agreed on a price and you have our address, simply mail or courier your part to us. You may like to choose signature on delivery and add insurance to the parcel, depending on what you’re sending us. Once we receive the parcel we’ll get your scan in process, and you’ll have the 3D file before you know it. If you need help with other aspects of the project like 3D printing, prototyping or manufacturing, then we can take the project forward on your behalf from that point. Once done, we will return your original part by courier.

We look forward to helping you with all your 3D scanning needs!

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