3D Scan to 3D Print: The Process

3D printing is an increasingly popular term for a variety of additive manufacturing processes, where parts are built from the bottom up into their finished forms instead of being carved out of a solid piece of material, or melted into a mold. Some typical additive manufacturing processes include Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF), Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), Stereolithography (STL), Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS), Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), and more. Despite using different materials, machines, and methods, each of these processes start with the same thing – a 3D computer model of the finished part.

Where does the 3D model come from? If all features and sizes of the final part are known, the part can be developed and modeled directly into a CAD program, such as SolidWorks, by a design engineer. The throttle grip model, seen below, was modeled directly to customer specifications.

CAD Model of Throttle Grip

For organic, highly curved, and contoured surfaces of existing components, geometry may be captured through 3D scanning. This process uses optical cameras, infrared cameras, and/or laser emitters to take a series of images or points and utilizes software algorithms to build a computer model of the object in a matter of minutes, rather than the weeks of work that might be required to reconstruct the geometry from hand measurements and approximations. The human face is the epitome of highly contoured and unique geometry – each is extraordinarily expressive and distinct from any other. Joshua Smith, our company President, was an eager volunteer for 3D scanning. A handheld scanner was used to measure the geometry directly into software running on a desktop computer. The software program processes all of the raw data from the scanner and builds the 3D geometry from a series of images and data points. Surrounding features and background objects are then removed from the 3D geometry. The final colorized scan can be seen in the image below.

Joshua 3D Scan

After the scan is created, it is converted into a 3D mesh made up of points on the geometric surface. This mesh is then used to create a solid 3D model which may be further customized, or directly converted for 3D printing. The final mesh of Joshua’s model can be seen below.

Joshua 3D Model

At this point, whether modeled directly or via a 3D scan, the solid model is ready for 3D printing. A software program is used to customize the parameters for the print, including material type, layer height, infill density, and more. The program then creates instructions in G-code, a numerical control programming language consisting of a series of points describing the motions, speeds, and extrusion required to build the 3D model. The G-code is sent to the HighRPM, and the final model is printed right here in Stratosmith’s offices. The final 3D printed models of Joshua and the throttle grip can be seen below.

Joshua 3D PrintThrottle Grip 3D Print

Whether developing a new orthogonal part, or reverse engineering complex surfaces and organic geometry, a multitude of modern design tools including SolidWorks, 3D scanning, and the HighRPM rapid prototyping machine enable Stratosmith’s engineering team to accelerate the design and manufacturing processes, bringing concept to reality quickly and affordably.

Thank you for taking this journey with us from 3D Scan to 3D Print. Feel free to contact us with any questions. We would love to hear from you!


Stratosmith Technologies to attend 2014 Women in Defense Expo

f22purpleswirlStratosmith Technologies will be attending the 2014 Space Coast Women in Defense Resource Expo on May 15. We are looking forward to the opportunity to build relationships with this passionate group of engineers, scientists, and leaders who support the defense capabilities of the United States. Several of our recent projects will be on display, including innovative composite structures, rapid prototype components, and mechanical systems.

Find out more about Women in Defense here: http://wid.ndia.org/

New 3D Scanning Capabilities at Stratosmith

InventBirdStratosmith Technologies has just received our new 3D scanner!  Our engineers are busy learning its ins and outs while integrating it into our systems.  Out of the box, we can measure at a .050″ resolution, with improvements coming as we learn.  The system is flexible, allowing us to measure items small enough to hold in your hand and items the size of boats and aircraft.  We will be able to connect to a laptop and walk around to collect point cloud data, or scan an object sitting on a table, then export that data to a solid CAD model, modify the geometry (if required), send it to the Stratosmith Technologies HighRPM for rapid prototyping, or to one of our expert manufacturing partners for machining. This is an exceedingly useful technology for customers with legacy hardware, or for parts or components where original design and manufacturing documentation is not available.

Keep checking back!  We’ll post more data in the near future as we integrate the 3D scanner into our systems.

First Parts Built on HighRPM!


We have built our first parts with the Stratosmith Technologies HighRPMTM! The HighRPMTM is a Rapid Prototyping Machine built in-house here at Stratosmith Technologies. The four corner bracket parts, seen above, were built with black ABS.  The HighRPMTM has a build volume of 708 cubic inches, and can build parts as large as 8.5 x 11.25 x 7.25 inches in a single run. From CAD model to finished parts, it took less than 3 hours to bring these parts to life. Now that’s Accelerated Manufacturing!

New Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing Online Quote Request Tools

InventBird We have accelerated our quoting process for rapid prototyping and manufacturing services! You can upload your drawing or file directly to our server, specify the material, need date, and more, all from our convenient new quote request pages!

Visit our Accelerated Quote Request tools now!

RP_Quote_Button  MFG_Quote_Button

Rapid Prototyping Spotlight: Robotic Bat Wing

The researchers at Brown University have built and tested a robotic bat wing fabricated with rapid prototyping technology. This bat wing is being used to learn more about the structures, aerodynamics, and kinematics of bats in flight. The robotic bat wing is instrumented to determine the forces on the various joints in the wing and measure changes in energy expenditure for different flapping speeds and flight speeds – information that cannot be obtained from a living animal.

Check it out at http://news.brown.edu/pressreleases/2013/02/robobat.

Rapid Prototyping Spotlight: Prosthetic Hands

We found a really cool application of rapid prototyping technology on the Machine Design website: prosthetic hands. These fully mechanical hands can be customized to fit any individual – from adult to small child, and use around $200 worth of material and parts, rather than over $10,000 for a conventional custom prosthesis.

Check it out here: http://machinedesign.com/3d-printing/3d-printing-creates-low-cost-prosthetic-fingers.