Monday, December 29, 2014

Customized Innovation for One Customer Leads to 7 Breakthroughs in PointMaster 5.4 Industrial Scanning for All Customers.

PointMaster is our successful and reliable industrial scanning software with proven modules for Reverse Engineering, Verification, CAM Milling and Computed Tomography.

This latest version boasts lots of improvements. What started out as a custom project became a whole new product release for you.  This version allows efficient scan path planning, plus a fully automatic measurement protocol generation capability.

 In a recent interview we asked Chief Developer and Branch Manager, Ralf Jaumann, to explain the most important innovations.

What’s new in Wenzel PointMaster 5.4 Industrial Scanning Software?

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Earlier this year we teamed up with a leading car manufacturer to develop a customized application solution for new a new quality center.

Based on that customization we implemented many new features into the latest version for all of our PointMaster 5.4 industrial scanning software customers.

For example, measurement reports can be created automatically via a script language. We’ve also made a big step toward virtual tool compensation by taking already reproached tool geometries into account in our compensation calculation.

Can you describe the project in detail?

It was a challenging, multi-faceted project with a leading automotive manufacturer here in Europe.  First, we equipped a new measurement center with a total of 18 WENZEL R-Series horizontal-arm measuring machines. Using PointMaster industrial scanning we enabled direct data import from the CAD program CATIA V5. 

We then integrated the customer’s 3D line scanner to run parallel to the new Wenzel scanners on the CMMs we installed. The 3D Line Scanner and our scanners were run into the PointMaster 5.4 software.   Finally, we developed a new scanning method for complete car bodies.

What are the advantages of the new scanning method?

The work was radically simplified. Previously, only unidirectional movements were possible. That means that the sensor could only be moved in one direction when scanning. Now, due to a specific calibration, both sides can be measured bi-directionally.

Programming Time Reduced by 98% Due to New Bi-Direction


With the new PointMaster 5.4 programming time went from 4.5 hours to 5 minutes!

Total Time For Scan Down by 88% Due to New Scanning Method


The scanning time for an entire car body went from 3 hours and 20 minutes to about half an hour.

Total Scanned Points Shrunk by 93% Due to New Intelligent Efficiencies

Also the scanned cloud of points was reduced from 39 million to 2.7 million points, as a result of less overlapping scan fields and intelligent motion paths.

In addition, the measurements are fully protected against collision and it is possible to scale, move and reflect the CNC scan programs.

You talked about automated measurement reports. How do these work? 


We’ve integrated a programming language similar to JavaScript in PointMaster. This makes it possible for PointMaster 5.4 industrial scanning software users to create programs, which automatically generate a test report.

With his much power and versatility, is intensive training necessary to work with the software?

No, PointMaster 5.4 is very intuitive and most features are supported by automation. The ease of use and intuitive operation is part of the appeal of PointMaster with our customers.  You can take very complex problems and solve with minimal training and relatively few hours of effort.

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Screenshot PointMaster Version 5.4 – Scan path planning

About Wenzel America

Wenzel America is a division of Wenzel Group GmbH & Co. KG, a 45-year-old, family-owned, world-leading manufacturer of metrology solutions. Wenzel America is a top supplier of High-Speed Optical Scanning, CT 3D Scanning and traditional CMMs and GMMs. North American aerospace, automotive and medical device manufacturers all depend on Wenzel’s intrinsically accurate granite measuring machines and innovative metrology software and sensor solutions.  For more information about Wenzel America and its products contact Andy Woodward @ 248.295.4300 or email

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

American Manufacturing is Alive and Doing Very Well

Often when we talk about manufacturing and industry in this country, we talk about loss, decline and shrinking markets. Contrary to much of this type of news, many indicators show that our industrial economy is doing quite well and overall we are still the largest economy in the world.

Recent reports about the USA slipping to number two are based on projections and statistics using weighted methodology and are not accurate.

This article from Marketwatch tells a more complete story: Sorry, But America is Still #1

Another telling data point of how well we’re doing is this one: Taken alone, the U.S. Manufacturing GDP would be the 8th largest economy in the world.

Here’s how the actual breakdown looks:
  1. USA 2014 GDP is  $17.5 trillion
  2. China  $ 10 trillion
  3. Japan $4.8 trillion
  4. Germany $3.9
  5. France $2.9
  6. United Kingdom $2.8
  7. Brazil $2.2
  9. Italy $2.2
  10. Russia $ 2.1
  11. India $2.0
That’s something to think about the next time you see a doom and gloom article about U.S. manufacturing. Here’s the full world economy visual from CNN Money.

We still make some of the best products in the world. This article from a few years ago gives a top 10 list of things made in USA.

On a side note, though not on this particular list, I am happy to say Whirlpool is one of our best customers with 8 manufacturing facilities and 28,000 people making iconic American-made products across the Midwestern United States.

The predictions made in that article in 2011 about back shoring (jobs coming back to the U.S.) are coming true. We may have lost 33% of our manufacturing jobs from 2000 to 2012 but the situations that brought that about are changing fast.
  • Jobs left when you could get work done at 58 cents an hour.
  • The coastal wage in China is now $3 per hour and growing.
  • We’ll see a trillion dollar swing real soon.
  • China’s growth has stalled.
  • Currently down to 7.5% in 2014 from 9.3% in 2011 & 14% in 2007
  • China has declined almost a 50% in just a few years.
Like many developing economies, they face inflation and have possibly over extended their buying of offshore products. Spent too much. 

Sound familiar?

The biggest advantage we have always had in the United States is the quality we produce and the innovation we create.  You can’t find that anywhere in the world and certainly not for pennies.

So let’s end the year on a high note. Instead of focusing on what we’ve lost, let’s remember all we still have and the innovative, quality products we still make.

To get started focusing on just that here is an article from the National Association of Manufacturers that tells the real comeback story of American manufacturing.

And, with the holidays right around the corner there’s plenty of American made gifts to be found at Still Made in America and Americans Working.

About the author

Mike Bingham is a Regional Sales representative for Wenzel America.  Mike welcomes questions about the article or Wenzel America Coordinated Measuring Machines, 3D Metrology, Gear Measuring Machines and metrology machine training and service. email: Ph: 248.295.4300.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

3 ½ Minutes Could Save You Thousands on 3D Scanning Technology

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 By: Giles Gaskell

This is the third article in our series on the Fundamentals of 3D scanners and 3D imaging technology. It covers the basics of optical scanners and could also save you a lot of money.

If you measure shiny parts, machined metal or any parts that need to be coated and you use (or want to use) 3D scanning technology you’ll want to read all the way to the end.

Laser Line or Structured Light 3D Scanners – Which is better?

People ask me this question at every presentation, and 20 years on, to be honest, I can’t say which is better – Laser 3D Scanners or Structured Light Scanners/White Light Scanners. With certain applications one may be better than the other and have slight advantages. Like so many things in technology and metrology - it depends.

So, let’s cover how they work as a way to ascertain which is best for your needs.

All optical scanners work basically the same way, whether they are laser line scanners, structured or white light scanners.

Laser Line Scanning

Usually the laser is red, but sometimes it may be green or blue. The level of power of these lasers is very similar to the laser you might see in the check out line.

The basic method of operation is the laser beam is played on the object and it moves across the surface in a series of lines and it squiggles.  It works by triangulation wherein the laser shines on the object and a camera is picking up the data it delineates.
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Structured Light Scanners also called White Light Scanners

Generally speaking these scanners use white light, though they can use blue or other colors - they are known collectively as White Light Scanners.

The way these work is instead of a moving laser line that is being read, the Structured Light Scanners shoot a square patch of light that looks quite like zebra stripes. These stripes then change “structure” or move into a new pattern of zebra stripe which is then read by the camera and the light goes away.

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Both of these use triangulation and give highly accurate depth perception for the camera which then equates to very accurate measurements.  It’s an obvious way for this to work and delivers excellent measurement accuracy.

There are definitely some drawbacks and problems associated with structured light scanners and laser line scanners though.

One major problem that almost all optical scanners suffer from - they have real difficulty measuring shiny surfaces.

Shiny or reflective surfaces will reflect or disperse the light into all different directions and the camera system is confused and cannot read properly.

How Accurate Does Your 3D Scanner Really Need to Be?

Recently machined metal is in that category.  The normal metrological method to fix this is to coat the part with something that gives it a matte finish.

Here’s the scoop, when you do that the accuracy of the 3D scanner you are using is no longer what the manufacturer said it was.  The accuracy now is the uncertainty of the thickness of the coating you applied to your part.

The only way to stay within the reported accuracy is if you somehow know that the paint you’ve applied is within a micron of thickness.  This unfortunately, is not possible and tests have shown us that the paint thickness could be as little as 10 microns and as thick as 10,000th of an inch - you just don’t know.

Your new uncertainty is no longer tied to the accuracy of the machine you bought, but instead to the thickness of the coating you had to apply. 

Got Shiny Parts? Read This & Save Thousands on Your 3D Scanner

This is the little tidbit that could save you tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands when you purchase a 3D Scanning machine - whether it’s a white light scanner or laser scanner. From us or somebody else. It doesn’t matter. The reality is the reality.

If your parts are always shiny and you’re going to have to coat all of them before measuring, then you might as well buy a 3D Scanner that has an accuracy of plus or minus 3 or 4 thousandths of an inch. No higher level of accuracy is warranted. At this point, your benchmark is no longer accuracy.

Get a high value, relatively low cost 3D scanner that’s portable and easy to use and still accurate within the real uncertainty you’re going to be dealing with after you coat the parts.

If you’re coating all the parts before measuring then you’re chasing a level of accuracy that is impossible to achieve anyway due to the need to spray your parts. One of our mantras at Wenzel America is don’t buy more machine than you need. We hope this helps you do that.

About Wenzel America

Wenzel America Ltd. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wenzel Group of Germany. Contact Wenzel America by phone at 248.295.4300, email us or subscribe to our newsletter.

About Giles Gaskell

Giles Gaskell has been involved in industrial 3D Imaging and 3D Scanning since it’s earliest beginnings. He founded the first distribution company for hand-held 3D Scanners in the UK and then Italy. Since arriving in the United States in 2005 he has continuously worked in the 3D Scanning an Imaging arena in business development and education. Giles is 1 of 3 Advisors North American advisors to SME’s RAPID show which is focused on 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing. Since 2010, Mr. Gaskell has been the Applications and Sales Manager for 3D Imaging products at Wenzel America.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

5 Game Changing Advancements in 3D Imaging & 3D Scanning Today

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 By: Giles Gaskell

We have significant improvements in many areas including:
•    Innovative New Hardware Types
•    Hardware Data Capture Speeds
•    Optical and Mechanical Accuracy

But it is the last two that have the largest impact on our ability to accurately measure and create 3D Images and 3D Scans.  Both are related to the massive increase in computer processing speed that has paralleled the other developments in 3D scanning:

•    Point Cloud Post Processing Software
•    PC Hardware Processing Speed

With our new hardware innovations we can get millions of points today when we scan a physical object. Our ability to process those points has come along tremendously in the last 2 decades.

But no matter how many points our machines can get, we have to be able to process the data.

In the past, even if we’d been able to generate the data we couldn’t have processed it.

In fact with today’s best CT machines, like Wenzel’s exaCT, the processing speed is still the upper limiting factor. In other words, the machines have an accuracy, completeness and precision that exceed our ability to process all the data points we can collect.

Today’s Modern Metrology Systems include two main machine classes:

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1.    Conventional Measurement

These are your Coordinate Measuring Machines. 

CMMs are the metrological workhorses.  Today’s technology for CMMs relies on the precision and intrinsic accuracy of traditional craftsmanship like you find in Wenzel’s all granite CMMs.

And couples that with the latest touch probes, contact scanners and software that allows us to measure from very small to gears that measure 30 feet in diameter and entire cars. 

Modern CMMs use very advanced software in combination with the traditional, highly accurate scanners. Only traditional CMMs with touch probes are accurate enough to measure machined parts, body panels, crankshafts, camshafts, or gears.

If you’re measuring parts like this, with geometric shapes and in need of high accuracy there is no other game in town than a sturdy, reliable granite CMM and Renishaw Probe.  Even if there were an accurate non-contact solution there is nothing to be gained by using it.

Non-Contact Scanners – 3D Scanners

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In the rest of the series, we’ll lay out the various decision points that need to be considered when investing in 3D Imaging technology and non-contact scanners.

The first thing we’ll look at is whether one wants or needs to use a Handheld 3D Scanner or a Machine-Mounted 3D Scanner.  We’ll cover the major Pros and Cons of each and that should help with your 3D Scanner buying decision tree.

My first experience in the field was with handheld 3D scanners, they’ve come a long way since:

Handheld 3D Scanners

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–    Maximum versatility
–    Real-time registration
–    Totally Portable

–    Operator dependent results
–    Tiresome for large or repetitive jobs
–    Relatively inaccurate


Machine Mounted 3D Scanners

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–    Highly accurate +/- 0.0005”
–    Repeatable
–    Automated
–    Ordered data

–    Longer Set up time
–    Non-portable


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Though they are not portable machine mounted 3D Scanners can configured in many different ways since they are often mounted on traditional CMMs.  You can attach them to a shop floor coordinated measuring machine just as easily as you can attach them to a gantry horizontal arm machine.

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There are also smaller and more portable machines that can easily fit in a testing lab. Or, in the case of our exaCT machines they can even fit on a desktop workstation.

3d scanningBeing mounted and fixed their measurements are 100% repeatable. There is no “operator” discrepancy so are highly accurate like their traditional CMM cousins. The downside of course is the parts must go to the machine just like traditional CMMs.  And you certainly can’t put it in the trunk of your car and take it with you.







About Wenzel America

Wenzel America Ltd. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wenzel Group of Germany. Contact Wenzel America by phone at 248.295.4300, email us or subscribe to our newsletter.

About Giles Gaskell

Giles Gaskell has been involved in industrial 3D Imaging and 3D Scanning since it’s earliest beginnings. He founded the first distribution company for hand-held 3D Scanners in the UK and then Italy. Since arriving in the United States in 2005 he has continuously worked in the 3D Scanning an Imaging arena in business development and education. Giles is 1 of 3 Advisors North American advisors to SME’s RAPID show which is focused on 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing. Since 2010, Mr. Gaskell has been the Applications and Sales Manager for 3D Imaging products at Wenzel America.

Monday, November 17, 2014

What Are the Fundamentals of 3D Scanning and 3D Imaging?

This is the first of a series of articles about the Fundamentals of 3D Scanning.

If you spend the next 5.3 minutes reading this article the least you’ll get is an education in 3D Scanning and 3D Imaging.

And you just might get enough data to inspire you to take a leap into the future of measurement and metrology that could put you ahead of your competition.

Some of what you’ll learn:

-  A short history of 3D Scanning in manufacturing, reverse engineering and design.

-  Understanding of the current capabilities of 3D imaging & scanning.

-  A business case for widespread adoption of 3D scanning in all manufacturing.

Who am I?

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My name is Giles Gaskell, after graduating from Aston University in Birmingham, England I started in “3D” images like everyone else back then - working in computer aided design. In 1995 I started my own successful CAD software consultancy. Then 1998 I discovered the first hand-held 3D scanner and surprisingly, could not find a distributor in Europe – so I became the distributor and I’ve never looked back.

Why I am qualified to talk about this ever-changing world of 3D Scanning:

-  Founded the first UK Company selling 3D Scanners for Reverse Engineering & 3D Imaging.

-  Expanded to Italy, servicing some of Europe’s most elite auto designers & manufacturers.

-  In 2005, moved to the U.S. to work with reverse engineering, 3D Imaging, 3D Scanning companies, NVision Inc. and then Laser Design Inc.

-  Since 2010, Wenzel America Applications Manager for 3D Imaging Products.

-  1 of 3 North American Advisors to SME on 3D Scanning and 3D Imaging.

-  Featured presenter at SME’s RAPID show on 3D Scanning 2012, 2013, 2014.

Simply put, I have been a whole-hearted evangelist for 3D Imaging and 3D Scanning Measurement Technology since its earliest beginnings. I have seen it evolve and am excited about its future. We are at the cusp of a revolution in 3D measurement and non-contact scanning and I hope I can shed some light on its future.

What Problems Does 3D Scanning and 3D Imaging Solve in Today’s Industry?

-      Solid Modeling for Product Design
-      Art & Movies
-      Simulation & Visualization
-      Complex 3D Surface Design
-      Reverse Engineering of Parts
-      Legacy Parts
-      3D Inspection for Quality.

With 3D Scanning and Imaging you Can Move Physical Objects into the Virtual World for:

 3D Graphics
 Inspection Data

Haven’t We Been Creating 3D Computerized Image Models For Decades?

Sure, but let’s take a look at what is required and the results we achieve. Just 20 years ago 3D scanning did not exist in commercial use. If you wanted to get the data from the physical world into a computer model for CAD or other designing and manufacturing the metrology and measurement methods already seem antiquated:

 Tape Measures
 Height Gages
 Coordinate Measurement Machines
 2D Photography
 2D Vision Systems

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The Good Ol' Days - Horizontal CMMs & "Digitizing" - One Point at a Time!

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"High Tech" Digital Micrometers? We could be at this a little while.

After 1000s of Hours & Relatively Few Data Points & 

You Could Have a Model Like This:


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CAD Wireframe for 3D surface construction. Not bad, but not great either.


So, what is 3D Imaging and 3D Scanning today? 

3D Scanning links the 3D physical world with the 3D virtual world on your computer.  There is a lot of demand for it.  I’ll just highlight a few industries I’ve worked with that could benefit greatly with 3D Scanning Machines and 3D imaging technology right now.

I truly can’t fathom why there is not widespread adoption in each of these areas, other than a knowledge gap in the understanding of where 3D imaging is today. I hope this article can fill some of the gap.

What Are Some Industries that Could Benefit from 3D Scanning & 3D Imaging Right Now?

Aerospace Manufacturers

The latest turbine blade designs are not only ultra-smooth and shiny they are also small and have multiple geometric surfaces that just can’t be measured with traditional metrology machines.


Medical Device Manufacturers

Whether a medical device manufacturer makes shiny replacement knees or using innovative material of varying density - the precision of measurement needed is extremely high.

And the requirements for sterility are even higher.  Traditional metrological methods are quickly becoming a hindrance to development.


Plastics Companies and Plastic Part Manufacturers

Whether they make the tiny clips for sun visors, fuse boxes, water bottle caps or soap dispensers-every single plastic parts manufacturer should be using 3D imaging right now, today. An investment in 3D Scanning equipment or outsourcing 3D inspection to a metrology inspection firm will save them millions of dollars.
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CCLicense. Some Rights Reserved. Photo by Kreg Steppe.

“It’s the other side of beam me up, Scotty!”

3D Printing and 3D Scanning are two sides of the same coin.

Just like 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing take a computerized model of an item and then turn it into a physical object, 3D Scanning takes a physical object or item and turns it into a computerized model.

The technology today is such that you could take the device you are reading this on right now “beam it up” to the cloud and download it on the other side of the world and print it out. It’s like Version 1.0 of “beam me up, Scotty!”

Today’s 3D Scanning Technology Gives Full Object “DNA”

You can take even the most mundane object and understand more about it than you ever could before. As you look through these images, think about how this capability can apply to your own applications.

Ask yourself:

How could this level of measurement help you create better medical devices?
How could you advance turbine blade manufacture and efficiency?
How could you increase the structural integrity of plastic parts?
How could you reverse engineer competing products to make yours better?

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CT Scan of Ordinary deodorant stick from your local CVS.
Scan done on Wenzel exaCT S workstation.

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This scan shows the different material densities from a single scan. You get complete “DNA” of the product and its packaging.

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You can also subtract the outer packaging leaving only a picture showing the multi-density of the gel and the central screw mechanism.

What is interesting is how much more this image tells you about your product than any other measuring method in use today.

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Using the same scan you can pull out all of the packaging and show just where the gel hardens onto the “screw” and makes it difficult for the lifter mechanism to push the material upward or where it can clog the threads. 
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You can also get 2D “slices” from the same scan. The CT scan gives a full view of the entire finished product inside and out.

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An incredibly detailed examination of every bit of the product and packaging from every angle with full separation of all discrete components of each.

What’s the Business Use for CT Scanning  of Underarm Deodorant?

This might be a simple and mundane example, but it illustrates the widespread potential in plastics manufacturing, or factually, any manufacturing process.

The above images, from just one scan could help improve packaging that resulted in fewer returns from a “faulty” delivery method - potentially saving the plastic manufacturer’s customers millions in product returns.

Or the deodorant manufacturer could re-work its formulation for less hardening or leakage into the mechanism – also potentially saving millions.

All by itself, this one scan of an everyday product makes a real world use case for massive adoption of 3D imaging in just the single industry of plastic packaging manufacture. But can’t this be translated for use  into just about any industrial manufacturing process?

What if you could take apart a competitor’s product & never open the shrink wrap?

CT Scanning Just Might Be The Ultimate Reverse Engineering Solution

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Each and every component is also available in STL format to be used for CAD comparison measurement by virtual CMM or reverse engineering.
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You can get full dimensional analysis and measurement of all parts.

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You literally get thousands of triangulated data points and all geometries for complete Reverse Engineering of the entire product assembly.

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With just a single scan you can inspect every part in the product, with 100s of thousands of data points.

Which you can then take apart and re-engineer with newly designed parts, fixing the problems found in the original packaging and tweaking the design.

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Now you can then “re” assemble this newly designed product package…all without ever touching or taking apart the original product or even removing the shrink wrap.

So, tell me again why you aren’t using or at least looking into 3D Scanning technology?

3D Scanning is Revolutionary But We’ve Only Just Scraped the Surface

In future articles in my series on the Fundamentals of 3D Scanning and Imaging I will cover the capabilities and limitations of each type of 3D scanning currently in use: 3D Laser Scanning, 3D Optical Scanning, Structured-Light Scanning and 3D CT Scanning.

You’ll also learn what questions to ask before you buy any 3D scanning technology solution.

I guarantee that knowledge alone could save you $200,000 or more investing in the wrong technology.

If I’ve piqued your interest about what 3D Scanning can mean to your manufacturing and designing processes feel free to contact on the various 3D Scanning solutions available.  We also have a select few slots available to do a complimentary part scan if your company wants to see the power of 3D scanning right now.