Griffin Industries

Machining, Tooling, and Foundry Support

The Applications & Limitations of 3D Laser Scanning

3D laser scanning was developed to take a physical model and duplicated it into a digital form. This is possible with the use of a laser that runs over the surface of a part, taking in data that measures and replicates the shape of that part as a point cloud. At Griffin Industries, this is done with a manually operated arm, but there are a variety of other methods used in 3D scanning.


The applications for this technology are infinite. However, in our field of mechanical engineering we feel it is most successful in assisting with reverse engineering and quality control. When reverse engineering, we are able to take an existing part, scan it, and create a digital model without being provided the original CAD model. Though we primarily work with metals, this technology functions without any contact so the same process could be done with a variety of materials without any compression. The enhancements of this technology have provided increased accuracy and speed, gathering millions of data points in a matter of minutes.

On the other side of production, 3D laser scanning also enables us to quickly accomplish feature verification on machined castings. This is done by scanning completed parts, collecting data points, and comparing the surfaces back to the original CAD model. Not only does this verify accuracy, it also saves a tremendous amount of time in comparison to running traditional verification methods.


3D scanning technology has come a long way. However, there are still limitations to what it can do. At Griffin Industries, we specialize in highly-complex prototype and low volume production. With that comes a great amount of detail for a wide range of projects. The limitation of this technology comes into play when there are deep cavities and/or intricate internal details that can’t be seen by the scanner when it runs over the surface of a part. In most instances we can work around this limitation through sectioning a sacrificial part.

We look forward to watching scanning technology continue to evolve and break barriers that will reshape our industry. If you would like to further discuss our 3D scanning capabilities, please contact us for more information. We would be happy to explore how these services may be able to assist you.

mrose • December 2, 2021

Previous Post

Next Post