Everything You Always Wanted to Know About 3D Scanning – 3D Data for Visualization

3D Data for Visualization Brisbane

Using 3D Data for Visualization

While we touched on visualization, one of several downstream applications in Chapter Six, the subject is so comprehensive that it deserves a chapter of its own.

Visualization 3D Scanning

As our lives become increasingly digital and interactive (via the web, video games, and even television and our cell phones), we have come to expect ever more realistic interpretations of real-world objects within this virtual realm. One of the best ways to perfect the digital form is to actually copy the shape of objects into 3D via laser scanning and digital imaging.

Visualization applications generally fall into the following categories:

  • Animations – 3D digital movies made from computer models
  • Renderings – 2D images made from computer models
  • Direct 3Dviews – real-time interactive web-based 3D visualizations
  • ShapeShot™ – real-time interactive web-based 3D facial images


When most people think of computer animation they think of the neat special effects in blockbuster movies and the animated explanations of complex events on the nightly news, such as train accidents. Yes – 3D models are frequently used for those types of animations. But often these animations are pure visualizations where the dimensional accuracy of the objects is less important – as long as it looks good.

Our brand of 3D scanning and modelling is more valuable when the quality of the models is critical, such as for museum objects, or military simulations, or for animating highly recognizable objects for tv commercials such as cars. These situations require accuracy and authenticity, which scanning provides, so the objects in the animations look as real as possible. Often real colours and textures are captured and applied to provide that much more realism.

We have created numerous 3D animations from our 3D scanned models for a wide variety of applications including illustrating complex medical procedures, forensic analysis, describing historic preservation sites, and even for Hollywood movies and commercials.


Rendering is the process of creating a still image from a 3D model. High-quality 2D renderings are often created from an existing 3D model that was originally captured for other purposes. These renderings can be used for graphical presentations, marketing, and even websites. For instance, if a product designer has created a hand-carved physical model for reverse engineering purposes, he can also use that same digital file to create awesome 2D images of his product for marketing graphics. The great thing about a rendering created from a 3D model is that it is highly accurate and quick to render out multiple lighting and background states to create multiple renderings without staging new photography shoots.

Direct 3D views

A Direct 3Dview is a fully-interactive real-time 3D presentation of a digital model in a virtual environment. This 3D model visualization can be displayed via a website, a PowerPoint, or even in a stand-alone format. The Direct 3Dview of your object can be used to create an online 3D catalogue to allow web visitors to fully experience the product – virtually. Another great application is for 3D proofs of concept for a new design or invention in a collaborative viewing environment.

Features of the Direct 3Dview include:

  • The smallest viewer on the web – the one-time plug-in is only 130KB
  • Smaller digital file sizes = faster download times
  • Easily integrates into web sites
  • Viewer supported in an e-mail as well as PowerPoint
  • View file in actual 3D, not a series of images


ShapeShots™ are high-resolution 3D snapshots of faces that are incredibly life-like. ShapeShot™ enables online personal interaction with amazingly real 3D avatars of you, friends, and family for social networking, online gaming, virtual collaborative environments, and fabrication of personalized consumer products.

New advances in 3D imaging technology have made it to possible to capture faces in a split second and receive an interactive 3D model within minutes with almost no effort.

From the Virtual to the Physical

The above examples are just a drop in the bucket when it comes to visualization applications. But what happens if you want to take your 3D model and make a physical copy of it? For instance, can you take your Guitar Hero avatar and get a physical 3D copy made? You can, and that process is called Rapid Prototyping or RP. Rapid Prototyping is just one of many technologies that fall into the “3D Printing” category and we’ll be talking about that next.

Happy Very Brand New year to All of you.

Contact Australian Design & Drafting Services for more information..

What is the difference between CNC and rapid prototyping?

CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machining and rapid prototyping are both manufacturing processes used to produce physical parts or prototypes from digital designs, but they differ in several key aspects:
Process Principle:
CNC Machining: CNC machining involves subtractive manufacturing, where material is removed from a solid block or stock to create the desired geometry. This is achieved by precisely controlling the movements of cutting tools using computer-controlled machinery.
Rapid Prototyping: Rapid prototyping encompasses a range of additive manufacturing techniques, where parts are built layer by layer from digital designs. This additive process adds material to create the final part, often without the need for traditional tooling or molds.
Material Usage:
CNC Machining: CNC machining can work with a wide range of materials, including metals, plastics, composites, and ceramics. It is particularly well-suited for producing parts from solid blocks of material, offering high strength and durability.
Rapid Prototyping: Rapid prototyping typically uses various additive manufacturing materials such as thermoplastics, photopolymers, metals, and ceramics. While the material selection may be more limited compared to CNC machining, rapid prototyping offers greater design freedom and the ability to create complex geometries with minimal material waste.
Speed and Lead Time:
CNC Machining: CNC machining can produce parts relatively quickly, especially for simple geometries or small production runs. However, the setup time and machining process may take longer compared to rapid prototyping, particularly for complex or intricate designs.
Rapid Prototyping: Rapid prototyping excels in producing parts quickly, particularly for iterative design processes and low-volume production. Additive manufacturing technologies such as 3D printing can rapidly build parts layer by layer, often within hours or days, depending on the size and complexity of the part.
Complexity and Design Flexibility:
CNC Machining: CNC machining is well-suited for producing parts with high precision and tight tolerances, making it ideal for functional prototypes and end-use parts that require precise dimensions and surface finish. However, complex geometries may be challenging to machine, leading to longer lead times and higher costs.
Rapid Prototyping: Rapid prototyping offers greater design flexibility and the ability to create complex geometries, including organic shapes, lattice structures, and internal features that would be difficult or impossible to produce using traditional machining methods. This makes it ideal for rapid iteration and exploration of design concepts.

What is rapid system prototyping?

Rapid system prototyping is a development approach aimed at quickly creating a working model or prototype of a system or product to demonstrate its key features, functionalities, and user interactions. The primary goal is to validate concepts, gather feedback, and make iterations swiftly.
Key aspects of rapid system prototyping include:
Speed: The emphasis is on quickly building a functional prototype to test ideas and concepts. This often involves using rapid development tools and techniques to expedite the process.
Iterative Approach: Prototypes are built iteratively, allowing for continuous refinement based on feedback from stakeholders and users. Each iteration focuses on improving specific aspects of the system.
Minimalism: The focus is on creating a prototype that showcases core functionalities and features rather than building a fully polished product. This helps save time and resources.
User-Centric Design: Prototypes are designed with the end-user in mind, aiming to simulate the user experience as closely as possible. User feedback is crucial for refining the prototype and ensuring it meets user needs.
Cross-Functional Collaboration: Rapid prototyping often involves collaboration between various stakeholders, including designers, developers, product managers, and end-users. This interdisciplinary approach helps ensure that different perspectives are considered during the prototyping process.
Risk Reduction: By quickly building and testing prototypes, teams can identify potential issues and risks early in the development process, allowing for timely adjustments and mitigations.

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