Downstream Applications for 3D Data
We’ve reached the fun part! What can you do with a 3D model? Practically anything!
In a world that is increasingly digital, most industries now utilize 3D files in some fashion. We’re seeing them show up in many different places lately.
At this point in the process, you have your 3D model from your scanned original part. It has been either digitally modelled into a polygon format or reverse-engineered into a CAD format, according to your needs. But, you can do so many things with your 3D data – things you might not have even thought of yet! Chapter Six covers the different downstream applications for the 3D data file.
Downstream applications generally fall into the followings categories:
- Various Industry-specific Applications
After your part or object has been laser scanned and modelled you now have a digital "backup" of the object. Scan data for archival purposes is useful for a number of industries: Aerospace/Defense, Consumer Products/Industrial Design, Architecture/Historic Preservation and Museum/Fine Art. At Australian Design and Drafting services, we’ve scanned many objects specifically for the purpose of creating a digital document.
This digital model will:
- Protect you from accidental part loss, almost like an insurance policy
- Provide you with a working "virtual" blueprint in order to rebuild, recreate, or remanufacture
- Give you the ability to start from a base model and create something new without having to start from scratch
While Reverse Engineering as a process was covered in Chapter 4, it is also an application that is particularly useful in the Aerospace/Defense and Industrial Design industries. With a Reverse Engineered model you can make engineering and design changes of your part or object in a variety of ways or use it for specific types of analysis:
- Add or subtract design features to the existing part or object
- Use as a base model to design a new part or object
- Use the model for FEA and similar analyses
Also covered as a type of process, inspections are a great use for 3D data particularly for any types of manufacturing. Using our advanced laser scanning and reverse engineering tools and processes, Direct Dimensions can inspect and analyze your part or object in a variety of ways:
- Compare a scanned part/object to a "nominal" or intended design model
- Compare a scanned part/object to 2D drawing dimensions
- Compare a scanned part/object to another scanned part/object
While this will be covered in depth at a later time, Replication is one of the earliest and still most important uses for a 3D file. Using either 3D printing or milling processes, your digital file can be created as a physical part. After you have laser scanned or reverse engineered your part, there are virtually limitless options for replicating that object. Replication can be used for:
- Scaling in either direction
- Manufacturing Prototypes
- Making Products
This application definitely falls into the realm of advertising and entertainment but also museum presentations, legal cases, and even high-quality training simulations are also all great uses for 3D model visualizations and animations.
- Direct 3Dview of your object – can be used to create an online 3D catalogue or proof of concept.
- faces can – scanning a person for animations, avatars, mass personalization of consumer products, or even simulation programs.
- Animation – recent scans of people, objects, and structures have been used to create commercials, films, music videos, and video games.
- Rendering – high-quality 2D renderings using 3D models can be used for marketing purposes. Renderings of structures and viewpoints have also been used in legal cases to prove/disprove eyewitness accounts.
While many types of industries can utilize the previously listed applications, there are a few 3D model apps that are very specific, but we feel we should list:
- Architecture/Construction: scanning facilities for BIM databases and creating traditional blueprint drawings
- Museum Research/Fine Art: investigative scanning for provenance and comparative research
- Virtual 3D Worlds: 3D scanning facilities, objects, and people specifically for use in virtual worlds and social networks, such as Second Life
Same 3D Data, Many Different Uses: Repurpose!
Often, with just a little bit of extra work, you can create different, valuable deliverables with the same basic scan data or 3D model. Some examples are:
- A consumer products company has an object scanned so that it can be prototyped. What they might not know is that with a little tweaking of the model they can also gather the measurements needed to create perfectly fitting packaging and also creating photorealistic models for subsequent advertising or a virtual catalogue.
- An aerospace company has a cockpit scanned for human factors analysis. If enough data was initially collected, that same data could be used to help create training simulations.
- A major museum has a sculpture in its collection that is rapidly deteriorating and they want to scan it for documentation. That data could be used to create high-quality mini replications to be sold in the gift shop or for research (possibly comparing it to similar castings by the same artist).
The Sky is the Limit!
The above examples are just a drop in the bucket when it comes to uses for 3D models. If you have a possible application that you think a 3D model would work for, you should just ask your 3D service provider if it can or has been done. If they are anything like us, they will either have already done it (or tried it) or be so intrigued by your application that they are willing to give it a shot! And if you can’t do it yet, check back often; new applications and methods are being invented every day.
The world of 3D imaging, modelling, and engineering continues to grow at such an incredible rate that older applications are always being improved upon and new ones are always being dreamed up.