- THE MAGAZINE
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Direct Dimensions Inc. (DDI, Owings Mills, MD) provides 3-D laser scanning solutions to complex modeling and manufacturing problems. The company specializes in onsite laser scanning and conversion of complex 3-D data into 3-D computer models.
DDI measures objects in 3-D space-X, Y and Z-using advanced 3-D scanning systems. Putting data together like a virtual puzzle, engineers create an exact 3-D digital model. “Our 3-D imaging technology allows us to document complex objects down to the last intricate detail,” explains Michael Raphael, president and chief engineer of DDI. “In addition to saving time in the design process, we enable innovators to capture, model and modify complex physical shapes, such as organic human forms, that would otherwise be impossible to design even with today’s advanced CAD systems.”
When DDI began to get more large-scale project requests, it needed a faster, more accurate scanning solution to meet the demand and provide quick turnaround times for its customers.
Laser Scanning UpgradeRaphael, who has been in the field of laser digitizing for more than 20 years, was familiar with Laser Design’s (Minneapolis, MN) technology, which was similar to other system suppliers he worked with. Knowing that Raphael was looking for a faster solution for larger parts, C. Martin Schuster, president of Laser Design, kept him apprised on the progress of the long-line laser development. “Our extra-long laser line probe is a boon to users like Direct Dimensions and others in the automotive and aerospace industries who routinely scan large parts and assemblies,” says Schuster. “The speed of the scanning process is phenomenal without sacrificing the high accuracies.”
Around the same time that the Laser Design system was released, Direct Dimensions began to search for a more advanced scanning solution. Raphael decided to test the Laser Design system and it stood out from the competition. “What tipped the scales for us in deciding to invest in this Laser Design 3-D scanning system was a critical mass of projects on a large scale coming into DDI and the excellent results of the Laser Design system we tested. Laser Design’s SLP-2000 laser with a wide laser line, along with the portable Faro arm, was the ideal solution to make very large scan jobs fast enough to maintain a competitive advantage for our customers. The SLP-2000 laser is easy to integrate with the Faro arm and other platforms as well.”
The SLP-2000 laser has a line length of 8 inches (200 millimeters) and a standoff distance of 10 to 20 inches. SLP laser probes are fully integrated with Laser Design’s Surveyor 3-D scanning systems. Offering three to five axes of programmable computer numerical control (CNC) motion control, Laser Design offers a broad range of Surveyor systems in varying sizes and accuracies. The lasers perform automatic adjustments for surface color and finish, and have dual CMOS receptors with simultaneous scanning to assist with steep sidewall and recessed geometry capture.
“We decided to go with the new SLP-2000 because the laser beam is very wide,” says Raphael. There is nothing else on the market that competes with it and at DDI we have just about every other type of scanning device. The smaller lasers didn’t have this performance before. It augments our other tools.”
Successful Scanning“The Laser Design SLP-2000 with the Faro arm have produced very accurate scans, very quickly. The system is comprehensive, lightweight, easy to install and versatile,” says Raphael. “We have used it for a half-dozen projects in the last three months, for example the interior of a car and an airplane cockpit, and we are very happy with the performance.”
In addition to the ease of use and high data-gathering speeds, the engineers at DDI like the native scanning software on the probe, Surveyor Scan Control (SSC), because of the interface’s functionality and stability. They routinely push the limits of SSC’s data-gathering capabilities and it has stood up to the challenge. Another advantage to using the SSC software is that it does not tie up third-party software in the data collection process. The engineers are partial to the USB dongle for SSC because they often swap PCs for different projects and hardware. The SLP-2000 laser is integrated with Polyworks and Geomagic plug-ins, which makes after-the-fact data processing easier.
- Laser Design Inc.