6 ways to reduce the cost of 3d scanning projects

Let’s face it, high quality 3D scanning services can be expensive. They have to be because of the expensive equipment, software and training needed to do the job well. But as a customer of 3D scanning services, there are things you can do to help keep 3D scanning costs to a minimum. 

1. Prepare the surface of your part for 3D scanning

It is often necessary to prepare a part for 3D scanning. If the part is to reflective, a coat of fine powder is often applied evenly to eliminate reflectivity. The powder is usually easily removed by brush or rinsing. Sometimes, oil or grease can prevent the powder from drying, so it is necessary to wash the part off with a degreaser which takes time. When being charged by the hour for 3D scanning, you can save time by doing some of this prep work yourself. Painting the part a matte finish in either gray or white always helps if you are able to paint it. For large parts such as automotive panels, covering the part with masking tape creates a scan-friendly surface. 

2. Have a well-defined scope

It helps to provide detailed information to the 3D scanning service provider. Vague descriptions, or being too brief can cause the 3D scanner to “assume the worst” and do more work than is needed so as to make sure that you are satisfied with the result. 

3. Limit the scanning and/or modeling area

It can be tempting to say “scan everything”, when in fact you only need portions of the part or area to complete your project. For example, say you are installing new piping within a facility. While you could scan the whole factory for good measure and future use, the budget may not allow for that. To make the most of any 3D scanning time, it might be wise to focus the scan on just vicinity around where the new piping is expected to run. 

4. Be realistic with accuracy

Determine the “worst” accuracy that you can accomplish your project with. If you specify higher accuracy than needed, you may end up paying for scanning technology and time that is unnecessary. An unrealistic accuracy can inflate prices or even make the job impossible, depending on the equipment available. It is always wise to ask if there are price breaks based on accuracy, because if you can live with the next level down, you may be rewarded with a big savings. 

5. Get competitive quotes

It is always good to shop around to make sure you are not being charged excessive prices. But beware the very low bidder – they may be inexperienced or using cheap equipment. When shopping around, be sure to have a well-defined job scope so that companies are bidding on the same thing. Also, ask for the raw scan data. It should be available at no extra charge.

6. Do some of the work yourself

Take the opportunity to learn how to work with 3D scans and do some of the CAD modeling yourself. Of course, we are always here to support you for difficult situations and challenging parts. There are many Autodesk software products that can be rented by the month. Rhino, Onshape and Fusion 360 are programs that our customers have had success with. 

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