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Industry 4.0 – also referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution – is a new digitised era of manufacturing. 3D scanning is a field filled with promise where the true benefits are only just being realised. As the manufacturing sector revolutionises, what role will 3D scanning play?

Part of Industry 4.0 is about the technology itself – Internet of Things, cloud computing, AI and machine learning are central to its development. It’s also about the problems that need to be solved and the practical applications for these technologies – Industry 4.0 will see the rise of connected systems that operate autonomously, improving speed, accuracy, versatility and more. 3D scanning technology is at the core of the connected factories of the future and will help to facilitate many of Industry 4.0’s aims.

3D Scanning Capabilities – What Are the Real-World Applications in Industry 4.0?

How will 3D scanning be used as the manufacturing industry undergoes a major revolution?

1. Taking measurements. Lasers can be used to take measurements from large distances at a higher speed than previously possible. This capability will be particularly relevant during environmental and survey scanning, and in industrial design, where large and complex measurements will no longer have to be taken manually.
2. Product design and development. 3D scanning has applications across design and production, from conceptualisation to engineering. It can help to speed up the process and make it more streamlined.
3. Collecting information from existing products. Digitising data from existing products becomes much simpler with 3D scanning, plus the technology is more precise. The data can be used for rendering during the conceptualisation phase – ultimately, new products can be created or existing ones altered using the scanned data.
4. Prototyping. The process of prototyping can be sped up, with fewer prototypes needed to design or alter a product. Scanning technology can quickly measure and identify issues with prototypes and provide the information needed to engineer them more accurately.
5. Medical product production. In the healthcare sector, 3D scanning is improving research and training as well as patient outcomes. One key example is the manufacture of prosthetics, which has become simpler and more customised through the use of 3D scanners.
6. Quality control. Using 3D scanning, products can easily be compared to CAD designs to identify any discrepancies. This can improve the whole product lifecycle, from design, to prototyping, to manufacturing, to quality control.
7. Tool maintenance. 3D scanning technology can be used to monitor tool usage and wear, highlighting problems before they become serious and providing the evidence needed to find a solution and optimise tool design in future.

The Benefits of 3D Scanning in Industry 4.0

How will 3D scanning benefit the industry of the future?

Shorter timescales. Design and manufacturing processes will become faster and more efficient through the use of 3D scanning technology.
Increased productivity. With better tools and the ability to gather accurate digital measurements quickly, engineers will be more productive and output will increase.
Consistent quality. It will be easier to check that products are uniform and meet set criteria using 3D scanning and measuring.
Precision. Deviations from designs can quickly be identified and complex measurements can be taken with precision. Using 3D scanners, it will be easier to ensure that products are manufactured correctly the first time.
Reduced costs. While 3D scanners require initial investment, they can lead to shorter production schedules with less manual input, meaning lower costs.

Many leading names in the 3D scanning space are already on board with Industry 4.0 principles. Creaform, an innovative 3D measurement solutions manufacturer, participated in the Hannover Messe, helping to showcase the latest technologies in line with Industry 4.0 and digital manufacturing. As the industry adapts and grows, it’s becoming ever clearer that the capabilities of 3D scanning and the aims of Industry 4.0 are intrinsically linked.

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