Quality Innovations: Exact Scanning
The EXAscan, a self-positioning and portable handheld laser scanner, does not require an additional coordinate measuring machine (CMM) arm or other external tracking devices. The scanner, developed by Creaform (Québec, Canada), is able to scan highly detailed surfaces and small objects in many industries including automotive and aerospace. Its applications run from reverse engineering to design and manufacturing, inspection, digital mock-ups and simulation.
Oscar Meza, vice president worldwide sales and marketing of Creaform, says it can be used for a myriad of applications. “We let the market teach us,” Meza says. “We don’t want to limit the applications it can be used for.”
In dramatic fashion, Creaform unveiled the EXAscan during its 2007 User Meeting held in Québec City. A slide show demonstrated the image clarity of the scanner and several prominent uses for it. Then Martin Lamontagne, vice president of operations and general director, pulled away a black cloth and revealed the scanner to the crowd, assembled at an art museum in Québec City for the event.
After a long trip, the distributors- coming from not only Canada and the United States, but also Europe and Asia-were anxious to see the new product and get a closer look at it, and the Creaform staff was anxious to show it off.
Though it was technically only the prelaunch-the official release was a few weeks later at the TCT show September 26 to 27 in the United Kingdom-there was a lot of buzz and excitement over the release.
The success of Creaform’s Handyscan allowed them to spend more money on research and development, and Creaform began developing the EXAscan more than a year ago.
“We don’t stop because we have a good product,” Lamontagne says. In fact, just the opposite-the company doubled their R&D investment in the past year, according to Lamontagne.
The EXAscan laser scanner’s third high-definition camera, located in the upper central section, increases the scanning resolution as well as the data acquisition accuracy. It also has an automatic multi-resolution function enabling it to automatically set the optimum resolution level of the data acquired according to the type of surface it is scanning.
Creaform anticipates that the product will be an asset in many different areas-including manufacturing-where cost reduction is important.
“The cost of quality is very expensive,” Lamontagne says, and Creaform aims to ease the cost associated with rejects. Rejects cost money, but if companies can analyze why the products are rejected, they can prevent downtime and get a faster return on investment.
The product has caught the attention of several companies already. A customer had a CMM that was not working out, and they chose the scanner because they wanted something with more repeatability. It can check out-of-tolerance parts in automotive applications, and Lamontagne says they have received requests to scan automotive and airplane interiors.
Moreover, the scanner is lightweight and can travel in a carry-on suitcase. This laser scanner gives the operator great freedom of movement, making it possible to scan objects of almost any size, shape or color. “I like to say we brought freedom to the digitizing world,” Meza says.
The EXAscan is powered by VxScan, Creaform’s proprietary data acquisition software that supports the Handyscan 3D laser scanners line-up. VxScan provides real-time 3-D rendering visualization, and also offers options such as surface optimization algorithms, meshing optimization and sensor auto- calibration. Files can be exported to most CAD platforms.
Creaform staff use their products daily, and have confidence in the products’ capabilities. “They know they work because they use them,” Lamontagne says.
Technology ContactFor more information on the EXAscan, contact:
5825, St-Georges, Levis (Quebec) Canada, G6V 4L2