The Future of 3D Scanning – An Expert Opinion – Metrology and Quality News


Metrology News recently sat down with Dean Solberg, Vice President of Metrology at Exact Metrology, for a discussion on the future role of wearable 3D scanning and its role in smart manufacturing. Exact Metrology offers contract measurement and digitizing services, metrology equipment solutions, including hardware and software rentals from multiple locations across North America.

Q: Your company pioneered the commercialization of handheld CMM equipment. Do you think the arm-based technology market is now saturated or are new applications and markets still being discovered?

A: Yes, in general we believe that the arms market has matured to the point of maintenance level. This means that when weapons exceed their lifespan, they are replaced with new ones and most people understand the capabilities of this technology. Although some recent advancements such as IP54 rating and unique arm end devices will expand the user base.

Q: 3D scanning has evolved over the past decade, so there are many competing technologies pursuing the same customer application. How do you guide your customers through the 3D scanning of corn?

A: Each scanner has a unique adjustment. We have offered different scanner brands and technologies for many years. Some are more accurate, some can scan bright machined parts better, some can probe and scan, and price/accuracy are also considerations. We focus on the specific criteria established by the client. We always say that if there was one scanner better than another, there would only be one scanner.

Q: There has been an exponential growth in market demand for 3D scanning services. What was the catalyst for this growth, and do you see this growth scaling into the future?

A: Education. As more and more people discover what 3D scanning can accomplish, they feel the need for it more and more. This can be for inspection, reverse engineering or reality capture. In general, 3D scanning can be an expensive investment and take some time to master. This is why some people prefer services to owning hardware and software.

Q: Most people associate 3D scanning with reverse engineering and digitizing existing assets. What will it take for 3D scanning to become mainstream in production measurement applications?

A: First, you need to understand what 3D scanning can do and how much information you get in a very short time. Next comes automating this process which can reduce labor. More information, less time, and less labor are all critical needs for most production facilities.

Q: With Industry 4.0 and smart manufacturing coming to fruition, measurement processes are being integrated with adaptive manufacturing processes; How do you see the future of portable 3D scanning solutions?

A: The portable scanner will become the caliper of the 21st century. Profile tolerancing will drive the need to capture more data faster on the manufacturing line.

Q: Your company has recently entered the CT market. How receptive have you found the market to CT technology for industrial measurements and what are the typical industries and applications you have served?

A: We found the market to be extremely receptive. The ability to see inside parts for accurate dimensional inspection and defect detection was a game changer. Some industries adopting the technology are injection molding, additive manufacturing, aerospace, die casting, and medical companies. A big win for CT is the fact that you can perform 100% inspection on one part (or multiple parts) at once. This eliminates several processes like first measuring on the CMM then cutting the part then placing it on the vision machine.

Q: Exact Metrology was recently acquired by InPlace Machining. How do you see this new strategic partnership evolving?

A: The acquisition allows us to expand our reach not only in the United States, but also in Canada. He opened doors to clients that we didn’t have access to before. But above all, it offers our customers a wide range of services such as on-site machining, diamond wire cutting and alignment that go hand in hand with our expertise in the world of metrology.

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