A 3D scanner is a device that analyzes a real-world object or environment to collect data on its shape and possibly its appearance (i.e. color). The collected data can then be used to construct digital three-dimensional models.
3D laser scanning developed during the last half of the 20th century in an attempt to accurately recreate the surfaces of various objects and places. The technology is especially helpful in fields of research and design. The first 3D scanning technology was created in the 1960s. The early scanners used lights, cameras and projectors to perform this task. Due to limitations of the equipment it often took a lot of time and effort to scan objects accurately. After 1985 they were replaced with scanners that could use white light, lasers and shadowing to capture a given surface.
Many different technologies can be used to build these 3D scanning devices; each technology comes with its own limitations, advantages, and costs. Many limitations in the kind of objects that can be digitized are still present: for example, optical technologies encounter many difficulties with shiny, mirroring, or transparent objects.
There are several different kinds of 3D laser scanners, with prices ranging from the couple thousands to the hundreds of thousands.
Collected 3D data is useful for a wide variety of applications. These devices are used extensively by the entertainment industry in the production of movies and video games. Other common applications of this technology include industrial design, orthotics and prosthetics, reverse engineering and prototyping, quality control/inspection and documentation of cultural artifacts.
The 3D Laser Scanning market including hardware, software, and services is rather dynamic with major segments experiencing rapid product innovation. The market contains exceptional opportunities with rapid forecasted growth driven by both replacing older mechanical methods, and by improved workflow with lower overall project costs, which enables more projects. For the forecast period (2010 – 2015), the market is forecasted to grow with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 15.4% according to a new ARC Advisory Group study.
In this review article, the important areas concerning the 3D laser scanners will be covered.
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