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3D Laser Scanning

File Formats from Scanning

What kinds of file formats can be delivered from the 3D scanning process?

We can deliver many types of file formats--whatever kind of file customers need for their applications:

• Raw point cloud data when customers have their own CAD software that can create models from point cloud data, such as Geomagic, Rapidform, Imageware, etc., or a CAD system that can import point clouds for reference purposes.

• Polygonal models (PLY and STL formats) typically used for making rapid prototype models or for carvings/engravings with fine or sharp details. The STL file is directly machined using special CAM software to create CNC machine code. There are also some software packages that use polygonal models (FEA, animation, rendering packages, etc.)

• Surface models (IGES and STEP formats) are the workhorse file formats for reverse engineering. They provide a precise and complete 3D model that most CAD/CAM/CAE systems can import and utilize. These files are excellent for manufacturing, documentation, and design analysis. If the main purpose of the reverse engineering process is to replicate the physical model exactly as it exists, this is the best and least expensive file format to use. This format does not provide parametics or design history, and surface editing by pulling surface or edge curves is limited. If the part design needs to be modified or part variations created (beyond mirroring, scaling, or simple cuts or feature additions), this may not be the best format.

• Solid models (parasolid models) provide a generic solid model without history. This format allows for importing complete, watertight, solid models into any package that can accept the standard parasolid solid model format.

• Native files with the complete design history. This reverse engineering file format provides the same model information as if the model was created from scratch in that native CAD system. The parametrics and design history provide for fast and easy editing and design variations after the creation of the original model from the scan data. While native solid models provide the greatest editability of the model they also can cost 2 to 3 times what a standard IGES or STEP file costs to create from scan data. This premium price can generally not be justified if design changes of the initial model are not needed afterward.

Contact us to start your 3D Scanning project and to determine the best output format.