3D Scanning

24 Hour Quote Request Form For a 3D Scanning

The 3D scanning service on the 3DCompare on demand manufacturing platform can help provide you with high resolution 3D scans of your components at a low cost.

Use our 3D scanning service to capture both small and large items while conserving every aspect – useful for digitizing prototypes, re-designing or developing new products. We can even help reverse engineer your parts thanks to the total on demand manufacturing solution provided by the 3DCompare platform. Use the 3D scanning service to generate a 3D scan of your object, and then provide us with the 3D file of your scanned part to manufacture it, thus duplicating the item with all its key components in the process. You can also use our CAD Designers service to improve an already existing object that you’ve scanned by hiring a freelance CAD designer specialist to help generate a new and improved design of your 3D object.

Use the form below to get a quote on your 3D scan, with prices starting from $50. Get your 3D scans fast with 3DCompare – scans are from as little as a day after generating a quote and placing your order.

What is 3D Scanning and how does it work?

What is 3D scanning? – 3D scanning allows you to 3D digitize physical objects, capturing them as detailed pieces of data to be converted into 3D models for whatever your purpose – from CGI to industrial design.

Why should I use it? – 3D scanning can be used in a variety of contexts. Once you have acquired a digital rendering of your part, that data can be used for animation and virtual reality, which a lot of companies are utilizing today for various mediums like video games and films. 3D scanning is also used to create a digital repository of items and artefacts for historic records. Furthermore, the technology is useful for inspecting and analysing the construction and composition of an object, paving the way for reverse engineering.

How does it work? – 3D scanning operates on the principle of collecting data about a subject, which can be anything from an object, an environment or a person. The subject is captured using something called ‘point cloud data’. When scanning an object, the scanner is pointed towards the part and moved by the operator so as to measure all or a large number of points on the external surface of the object. All the data points are logged together by the scanner to essentially form the outer layer of the part, creating a 3D ‘cloud’ when the physical object is taken away. This is what is known as the point cloud of an object.

There are a multitude of scanners available for different industries and with varying levels of quality, however almost all of them produce point cloud data. The most simple point clouds are just a collection of XYZ coordinates, where each coordinate is transferred to the scanner to produce the cloud. Increasingly complex clouds can contain GB, intensity and normal information.

Point cloud data can therefore be described as the output of 3D scanners, used to create 3D CAD models for manufactured parts, metrology, quality inspection, as well as a plethora of visualization, animation, rendering applications.

Although point clouds can be rendered and inspected, they need to be converted to a 3D surface to be utilized in software packages, converted into a CAD model and manufactured using 3D printing. This is where ‘mesh data’ comes in, which forms a triangulated or polygonal model of your point cloud through surface reconstruction. In simple terms, this process uses 3 adjacent points in the cloud data and connects them to create a triangular surface. When done for the entire cloud, this created a 3D triangular mesh of the original part. Various pieces of software, tools and applications can be used to convert point cloud data into 3D triangular mesh files, where it can then be used in CAD software. A common type of mesh file is an .stl, which you may have heard of since its considered to be one of the main file types affiliated with 3D printing

Types of 3D scanning technologies

  • Laser triangulation 3D scanning

3D scanners utilizing this type of technology function via a laser line/beam or single laser point to scan across an object. The scanner inspects the object using a sensor and measures the reflection of the laser off the part, discerning specific deviation angles that are linked directly to the distance between the object and scanner through trigonometric triangulation and modification of the laser trajectory. Once enough distances are collected, the external surface of the object is mapped out to produce a 3D scan.


  • Produces incredibly high resolution scans
  • Accurate data capture, ranging in micrometers – considered one of, if not the most accurate 3D scanning technology
  • Useful for scanning large objects like cars and buildings


  • Low range for scanning
  • Not typically found in portable scanning devices
  • Sensible to surface properties – shiny or transparent objects can prove difficult to scan

Structured light 3D scanning

Similar to laser triangulation, structured light scanning also uses trigonometric triangulation light scanning but replaces the laser with the projection of geometric patterns onto the object. Each line in the pattern is examined to calculate the distance from the scanner to the surface of the object using a camera.


  • Produces extremely precise 3D scans with good resolution
  • Comes in both portable and stationary forms
  • Speedy scans
  • Useful for scanning small objects; can also be used to scan people


  • Sensible to lighting conditions, leading to problems when used outside
  • Not as accurate as laser triangulation

Photogrammetry 3D scanning technology

Photogrammetry is based on the use of photography. Multiple images of an object are captured and analysed to produce a measurement of an object, placing exact positions of surface points. The photographs are made at different positions and angles of the subject to cover most or all of the surface area. The user is also required to input the parameters of the camera.


  • Can produce precise scans
  • High acquisition speed of 3D scans
  • Capable of scanning subjects pertaining to various scales
  • Useful for scanning people


  • Reliant on high quality images – photographs with poor resolution will produce low quality scans with mesh holes
  • Requires a powerful computer to run photogrammetry algorithms, otherwise takes a lot of time

Contact 3D scanning

As suggested by the name, this form of 3D scanning relies on a contact-based form of 3D data collection. Through physical touch, subjects are inspected and analysed to record 3D information. A probe is touched on an object and moved across the surface to collect point data.


  • Can produce precise scans
  • Ability to 3D scan transparent and reflective surfaces
  • Useful for quality control


  • Slow speed
  • Cannot work with organic and freeform shapes
  • Liable to creating alterations in object being scanned
  • Sensitive to movements and vibrations during scanning
  • Time of Flight (TOF) / Laser pulse-based / Lidar 3D scanning

These 3D scanners collect the data of a subject by measuring how long a casted laser takes to make contact with an object and come back to the source. The time it takes for the laser to make its way back to the 3D scanner provides an exact distance as it is calculated against the speed of light itself. To precisely measure the distance, TOF scanners make use of laser pulses to measure the distance.


  • Useful for scanning large objects and environments like buildings
  • Effective in producing images of objects in real time, enabling the easy tracking of movement


  • Low precision due to variability of measurement by speed of light
  • Requires multiple scans and is quite slow

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