Does a 3D Printer Need a 3D Scanner? Everything You Need to Know

3D scanner reverse engineering is an under-appreciated workhorse that helps 3D printing work its magic. Some 3D printing projects, such as those that use open source or purchased pre-made 3D models, do not require it.

However, when a project requires creating an original 3D model from a real-life printed object or source of inspiration, a 3D scanner with automatic scan mode can save a significant amount of time to scan objects or replicate objects.

With so many product options to choose from, it can be difficult to select the best 3D scanning system for your application and budget. In this post, we’ll go over everything you need to know about this technology, including its benefits and a trusted 3D scanning company can help your business with all of your needs.

How Does the Technology Work?

3D laser scanning is a type of digital modeling technology that uses laser light, structured light scanning, and simple mathematics to create accurate 3D models. A laser point or a laser line is directed for scanning large objects, depending on the 3D laser scanner. Then, using either triangulation or time of flight, the specialized scan software calculates and records data points where the laser makes contact with the surface of the physical object.

These points are given cartesian coordinates such as the X, Y, and Z planes. Thousands or hundreds of thousands of data points are typically recorded from various angles until a full 360° scan is constructed.

When finished, this appears as a cluster of data points known as a point cloud, which provides reverse engineering teams with the scan resolution and information they need to create a mesh and CAD file of the print objects.

Benefits of Printing with a 3D Scanner

Let’s look at some of the general benefits of an all-in-one printer and 3D laser scanning in more detail below.

Quick and Thorough

3D laser scanning can record thousands to tens of thousands of data points per second as the laser moves across the surface of the object or terrain. This allows scans to be completed in hours or days, depending on the scale of what you’re scanning, allowing your project to move more quickly.


Depending on the environment and the characteristics of the 3D laser scanner, an accuracy of 0.002-0.197″ may be achieved. This high level of precision ensures that measurements are correct the first time, requiring less effort to complete subsequent steps in design and production.


3D laser scanning is significantly more cost-effective than most other measuring technologies, this is because it requires less time and labor during the measurement acquisition and design iteration steps.

Bank on the 3D Experts at Use Tangent

At Tangent Solutions, we strive to provide the most precise 3D scanner reverse engineering services for every industry while also providing the best customer service. For us, success is defined by more than just numbers. We appreciate each of our clients and want to serve them by providing timely deliverables that can significantly improve actual manufacturing production.

We can assist you whether you need an original computer-aided engineering design or a modification to an existing project. Simply bring us your samples, and we will scan them in-house and guide you through the manufacturing processes, providing best-practice advice based on our extensive experience with successful 3D computer-aided manufacturing projects.

There are several 3D scanning techniques available, including contact and laser scanning, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. However, all of our 3D scanners can produce highly accurate digital models. Because they can often do this faster and cheaper than traditional methods, 3D scanning is used in a variety of industries, from entertainment and medicine to architecture and forensics.

To learn more about how our 3D printing and 3D scanning services can help you, contact us at 949-345-0611 at Tangent Solutions today!

Sean Kepler

Sean is lead engineer with his previous career stemming from mechanical engineering, automotive dynamics, and aerospace. Pulling from real-world experience, he has over 15 years of experience as a designer and in fabrication. Before creating Tangent Solutions, Sean was the lead designer for many winning off-road race teams as well as mass-market production companies

Does a 3D Printer Need a 3D Scanner? Everything You Need to Know About How the Technology Works
About Tangent Solutions

Tangent Solutions offers the latest in 3D scanning technology paired with 15 years of CAD design experience, to bring your ideas to reality. Our team specializes in reverse engineering, manufacturing, and data verification. 

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