3D Printing & 3D Scanning: All You Need to Know

From Real Object to Virtual Object to 3D Printed Object

3d printed object from real object

If you have a special object and you want to make copies of it, would you consider creating a 3D model? Well, that might not be the most suitable approach. This is where 3D scanning and 3D printing come together to assist you in creating duplicates!

But what does it mean to 3D scan an object? And what exactly is 3D printing? In simple terms, these two technologies are like opposites. Through one, you can turn a real object into a digital version. On the other hand, with the second one, you utilize a digital model to produce a real object.

It would be convenient if there were a single machine capable of both 3D scanning and 3D printing. However, as of now, this all-in-one capability is mainly applicable to 2D world, 2D objects like pictures.

In the following sections, we will delve into the processes of 3D scanning and 3D printing, explaining their differences, and highlighting the exciting possibilities that arise when utilizing both techniques in combination.


3D Scanning

Creating a 3D scan involves capturing the object from various viewpoints

A 3D scanner is a tool that gathers real-world information about an object or space to make a digital copy. This info can include how big the object is, what it feels like, and what colors it has.

There are two main kinds of 3D scanners: contact or non-contact.

Contact 3D scanning employs a manipulator, often a robotic arm, outfitted with a precision tool known as a probe. With the object securely fixed in position, the probe establishes physical contact with its surface, facilitating the acquisition of data pertaining to positional relationships and distances. As the probe systematically traverses the object’s contours, it records spatial coordinates, ultimately culminating in the comprehensive assembly of a 3D model.

Primarily applied in manufacturing contexts, this technology, while effective, exhibits a comparatively slower operational pace compared to alternative methodologies. Additionally, it necessitates direct physical interaction with the target object, a factor that may pose risks of potential damage.

Non-contact 3D scanning entails the capture of radiation emitted by the object of interest, employing either active or passive methodologies:

Active scanners emit radiation, usually in the form of light or lasers, and subsequently gather the reflected signals from the object’s surface.

Passive scanners, in contrast, capture ambient radiation originating from external sources, which is then reflected off the object’s surface. Irrespective of the chosen approach, non-contact scanning systems create intricate visual representations, often referred to as meshes, by analyzing the varying intensities of received radiation.


3D Printing

A 3D printer is a machine that fabricates a physical object in three dimensions using a digital model.

Most common 3D printing technology in Malaysia are are mainly fused deposition modeling (FDM) , SLA and SLS.

  • Fused deposition modeling (FDM) involves melting thermoplastic filament through a heated nozzle and then extruding the resulting molten material. This material quickly solidifies to form the desired object.
  • Stereolithography (SLA) employs UV light to convert liquid photopolymer plastic into a solid item.
  • Selective laser sintering (SLS) employs a laser to selectively merge powder particles.

In each of these technologies, the object is created layer by layer. This necessitates the use of a dedicated software tool, known as a slicer, to translate the initial 3D model into instructions that the 3D printer can interpret.


Types of Devices

Within each category of 3D scanners and 3D printers, there exists a broad spectrum of options to consider. However, these options can generally be divided into two main categories: professional and consumer devices.

Professional Devices
Professional or industrial-grade devices yield superior outcomes, but at the cost of substantial investment in components. Additionally, they may demand significant space, power resources, and maintenance efforts, particularly in the context of 3D printing.

Typically, these devices boast user-friendly interfaces, produce highly precise 3D models, and are bundled with a complete suite of hardware and software tools.

Check out our range of Professional 3D Printer and Professional 3D Scanner we offer in Malaysia.

Consumer Devices

Differing from the professional segment, consumer devices are tailored to hobbyists, independent practitioners, and small enterprises. While many of these devices can still yield satisfactory outcomes, their primary appeal lies in being more affordable and user-friendly, making them well-suited for home-based or small workshop environments.

The market is witnessing an increase in options for affordable 3D scanners that offer both variety and quality scan results.

Diverse in shapes, sizes, and costs, consumer 3D printers offer a wide range of options. Among hobbyists, FDM is prevalent due to its cost-effectiveness, while budget-friendly SLA options also exist. Currently, SLS is mostly found in professional segment due to the substantial power and cost demands of the laser technology.

For the latest of consumer products please visit out online store.


The Scanning and Printing Process


General process of 3D Scanning to 3D Printng:

  1. Select an item for 3D scanning and decide on a suitable scanning approach. Keep in mind that the size of your model might impose restrictions on the available scanning methods.
  2. Perform a 3D scan of the object, and you may need to adjust its orientation to capture various viewpoints.
  3. Upon completing the scanning process, proceed to perform the essential operations mandated by the software to clean and align the scan data. This step is crucial for achieving optimal results. Once appropriately aligned, the overlapping meshes will merge into a unified virtual object.
  4. Export the virtual object as an STL or OBJ file.
  5. Bring your STL or OBJ file into the slicer software that matches your 3D printer, and ready it for the printing process. After configuring the required settings, the slicer will produce the essential g-code, which contains instructions to print the object layer by layer.
  6. Send the g-code to the 3D printer wait for the print to be finished.
  7. Upon completion of the 3D printing process, the necessity for post-processing varies depending on the type of 3D printer employed. Different forms of post-processing, such as cleaning, support removal, or additional curing might be required.

The preceding article provides a concise overview of 3D printing and 3D scanning. For more comprehensive information and to discover the optimal solution for your business, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today!