3D Scanning for 3D print file preparation

What is 3d printing?

3D printing, also called additive manufacturing, is the process of fusing together successive thin layers of material (plastics, metals, etc.) in order to create a 3D object. 

How can 3D scanning help with the 3D printing process?

File creation

In order to get any design idea into a form that a 3D printer can process, it must be properly prepared into an STL format that is error free and optimized for 3D printing. 

Part Duplication

In older machines, sometimes unique parts are difficult to find and you need to have a custom one made. 3D scanning allows one to capture the shape of any part and have a 3D printable file created based on the scan. We call this process “reverse engineering” and it is what we are best at. 

Pros of 3d scanning for print file preparation


Very large parts with complex geometry can be captured very quickly.


Scanning can pick up minute subtleties on the part, from holes and odd angles to slight surface variations. If precision measurement is desired when creating the master model, 3D scanning is the way to go. 


Scanning can be done onsite where we bring the scanner to you. Whether it be a fiberglass mold or an airplane wing. the scanner can come to you for convenient onsite capture. 

Cons of 3D scanning for 3D print file preparation

It can be expensive. 

3D scanning for a part starts at $300 and usually runs more than that. If the project is for part replacement or a hobby, often the numbers don’t work. 

Scanning picks up the flaws

Scanners can be accurate to a fault sometimes. All parts have some form of defect to one degree or another. Tubes may not be perfectly round, plates may not be perfectly flat, skins may not be perfectly smooth, etc. Scanning picks of all of these flaws which sometimes must be digitally removed. 

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Do you enjoy learning about 3D scanning technology? Find more articles about 3D scanning applications and how other companies are using this technology here: