What 3D CAD Model Best Suits Your Prototype Design Process?

3D scanning technology helps bring complex organic designs to life

With companies competing globally to bring ideas to market, 3D scanning technology and skills have become essential assets in the product development process.

We often see the challenge of recreating an organic and complex prototype within a 3D modelling space, or bringing it from the physical to the digital realm. From medical devices with a combination of mechanical and organic geometry to sculptures with intricate and fine details, to even automotive and aerospace components, the challenge of developing an accurate and often complex 3D model remains constant.

During the prototype stage, many industrial designers and mechanical engineers handwork prototypes to improve ergonomics and manufacturability. When it comes to translating this handwork to CAD models, traditional measurement techniques and best guess modelling for intricate features can often go astray. This leads to considerable re-work, increased cost and time to market.

How 3D Scanning and CAD Models Support Manufacturing Design

Although 3D scanning isn’t new to manufacturing, the use of this 3D technology is becoming more prominent throughout the product development cycle and manufacturing process. 3D scanning technology enables the reproduction of prototypes in a 3D environment quickly and accurately, making it an effective solution for all types of manufacturing.

This approach is particularly useful for:

  • Reproducing prototypes when the initial prototype has the desired geometry and can be used for reference during 3D modeling, or
  • When there’s organic geometry and/or fine details that require a high level of accuracy

Modern 3D scanning technology offers excellent digitizing speeds and technologies ranging from ‘structured light’ to ‘laser’ based. This provides the ability to vary data density and capture small parts with intricate details to large components such as automotive body side stampings or even composite aircraft components. Millions of precise surface points can be captured in only a few seconds.

A variety of highly adaptive handling systems (ranging from scanner mounted booms, to portable metrology grade tripods and integrated robotic part handling) make the 3D technology adaptable to almost any demanding situation.

Types of 3D CAD Models Used in Manufacturing Design

The optimal 3D CAD model used to reproduce your final design is often determined by the design process. There is a best-suited model type to each manufacturing stage.  While a polygonal mesh model (STL), for example, is the most common for rapid prototyping, it may not be the best selection for CNC machining, casting, or stamping processes where a more conventional 3D CAD model is preferred.

Some common types of 3D CAD Models include:

3D Scan to Polygonal Mesh (STL)

3D Scan to NURBs Surface

3D Scan to ‘Hybrid’ 3D Model

3D Scan to ‘Classic’ 3D Model

How Applied Precision 3D Supports Manufacturing and Product Design

Our 3D experts have the knowledge to help you identify and modify your designs, using the benefits and combatting the limitations of the selected manufacturing process. We also help select the correct 3D model type to optimize your product development.

“We offer clients techniques and expertise developed through applying advanced 3D digitizing technologies to product development across many different industries.

Robert Bell, President of Applied Precision 3D.  

Many of our long-term clients have incorporated our 3D scanning expertise into their product design and development workflows. They often note that it saves considerable time in comparison to their traditional methods and helped them achieve a competitive edge with their competition.

We have successfully completed thousands of assignments for our clients and know that these kinds of gains are essential to succeeding in today’s intensively competitive global markets.”

Robert Bell, President of Applied Precision 3D.  

To discuss the best approach for your product ideas – contact the Applied Precision 3D Team today!