The Benefits of Blue Light Scanners vs CMM for 3D Inspection

In the field of 3D inspection, the choice of technology, for this purpose blue light scanners vs CMM, plays a crucial role in ensuring accuracy, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness.

Traditional Coordinate Measuring Machine (CMM) technology has long been used for dimensional analysis and quality control. However, advancements in blue light laser scanning technology has revolutionized the 3D inspection process, offering numerous benefits over CMM.

In this article, we will explore the advantages of blue light scanners vs CMM technology and why they are becoming the preferred choice for 3D inspection applications.

Blue Light Scanners vs CMM – Technology Overview

What is a Blue Light Scanner?

A blue light scanner is a type of 3D scanning technology that utilizes blue light projection to capture the geometry and dimensions of physical objects.

It is a non-contact measurement method where multiple blue light lasers are projected onto the object’s surface, creating a grid of light patterns.

These patterns are then captured by a high-resolution camera, which records the reflections and calculates the precise coordinates of each point on the object’s surface.

The blue light scanner works on the principle of triangulation, where the angles and positions of the projected light patterns are used to determine the distance between the scanner and each point on the object’s surface.

By capturing millions of these data points, the scanner creates a highly accurate and detailed three-dimensional representation of the object, known as a point cloud.

What is CMM? 

CMM stands for Coordinate Measuring Machine. It is a specialized device used for dimensional measurement and quality control in various industries.

CMMs are highly precise instruments that are capable of accurately measuring the geometric dimensions of objects, such as length, width, height, angles, and surface profiles.

The functioning of a CMM involves a movable probe that makes contact with the object being measured. The probe is guided along the object’s surface, collecting data points at various locations.

These data points are then used to create a digital representation of the object’s geometry, allowing for detailed analysis and comparison against design specifications.

Blue Light Scanners Vs CMM Overview

Blue light scanners offer numerous benefits over traditional CMM technology when it comes to 3D inspection. These scanners provide enhanced speed and efficiency, enabling faster inspections and increased productivity.

With their non-contact measurement capabilities, blue light scanners eliminate the risk of damaging delicate components, making them suitable for sensitive objects.

These laser scanners deliver superior precision, capturing detailed dimensional data with high resolution to ensure accurate analysis and measurement. They are also superior for 3D inspection purposes, which you can read about in our 3D inspection page. 

Speed and Efficiency

Blue light scanners excel in terms of speed and efficiency, significantly reducing inspection time compared to CMM technology.

With their non-contact measurement capabilities, blue light scanners eliminate the need for time-consuming tactile probing.

Instead, they rapidly capture millions of data points by projecting a grid of multiple laser beams onto the object’s surface. This allows for quick and comprehensive data acquisition, making blue light scanners ideal for high-volume production environments where time is of the essence.

Non-Contact Measurement

One of the standout features of blue light scanners vs CMM is the non-contact measurement method.

Unlike CMM, which requires physical contact with the object being measured, blue light scanners utilize laser triangulation to capture precise measurements without touching the surface. 

This non-contact approach eliminates the risk of damaging delicate or sensitive components, ensuring the integrity of the inspected object.

Additionally, it allows for the scanning of complex geometries, including intricate and hard-to-reach areas, which would be challenging or impossible to measure using CMM technology.

Enhanced Precision and Accuracy

Blue light scanners offer superior precision and accuracy, surpassing the capabilities of CMM technology. With their advanced laser projection technology, these scanners can capture detailed dimensional data with high resolution.

The resulting point cloud data provides a comprehensive representation of the object’s surface, enabling precise analysis and measurement.

Blue light scanners have accuracy levels as fine as 0.02mm, ensuring the utmost precision in capturing even the smallest details. This level of accuracy is essential for industries such as aerospace, automotive, and medical, where stringent quality standards must be met.

How to Use 3D Laser Scanning for Quality Control Applications 

Full-Field Scanning

Another significant advantage of blue light scanners vs CMM is their ability to perform full-field scanning. Unlike CMM, which requires point-by-point measurements, blue light scanners can capture the entire surface of an object in a single scan.

This full-field scanning capability drastically reduces inspection time and provides a holistic view of the object’s dimensional accuracy.

It allows for the identification of deviations, surface defects, and geometric variations throughout the entire object, facilitating comprehensive quality control analysis. All of this can be shown instantly on screen as the scanner is performing. 

Versatility and Adaptability

These types of laser scanners are highly versatile and adaptable to various materials and object geometries. They can be used to inspect a wide range of components, from small intricate parts to large complex assemblies.

Whether it’s plastic, metal, composites, or even organic materials, blue light scanners can accurately capture the surface geometry and dimensions of different objects.

This versatility makes them suitable for diverse industries, including manufacturing, engineering, architecture, and art preservation.

On-Site Inspection Capability

Unlike CMM technology, which is typically confined to a fixed inspection location, blue light scanners offer the advantage of on-site inspection. 

The compact and portable nature of these laser scanners allows technicians to travel to the client’s location, whether it’s a factory, construction site, or any other remote setting.

On-site inspections eliminate the need for transporting large and heavy objects to an inspection facility, saving time, cost, and logistical challenges.

It enables real-time analysis and immediate feedback, facilitating faster decision-making and timely corrections.

Seamless Data Processing and Integration 

In comparison to CMM software, blue light scanners come equipped with advanced, native software that allows for seamless data processing and integration. The software provided withblue light scanners enables efficient handling of the captured point cloud data. 

It offers powerful tools for data alignment, surface reconstruction, and dimensional analysis. The scanned data can be processed and converted into various file formats, such as STL, OBJ, or CAD formats, making it compatible with industry-standard software for further analysis and integration into existing workflows.

Furthermore, the compatibility of blue light scanners vs CMM with Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software allows for easy comparison between the scanned object and the digital design.

Deviations, tolerances, and geometric variations can be precisely measured and analyzed, ensuring that the manufactured product aligns with the intended design specifications.

This seamless integration between scanning and CAD software enhances the overall efficiency of the 3D inspection process and supports better decision-making throughout the manufacturing lifecycle.


Blue light scanners vs CMM technology offers significant cost savings. While CMM systems require substantial initial investment, along with ongoing maintenance and calibration costs, blue light scanners present a more affordable alternative.

Their relatively lower cost of ownership and versatility make them a cost-effective solution for businesses of all sizes. There are also many service providers due to its mobility, allowing for a technician to arrive on-site. 

Read About Finding a 3D Scanning Service Provider

Additionally, the time saved in inspection and analysis with blue light scanners translates into increased productivity and reduced production downtime, resulting in further cost savings.

Future-Proof Technology

As technology continues to advance at a rapid pace, blue light scanning technology represents a future-proof investment. Manufacturers and industries can benefit from the continuous improvements and updates in software and hardware that enhance the capabilities of blue light scanners. 

This adaptability ensures that businesses stay at the forefront of 3D inspection technology, keeping up with evolving industry requirements and maintaining a competitive edge.

Blue Light Scanners vs CMM, What Do You Decide? 

In conclusion, blue light scanners offer numerous advantages over traditional CMM technology for 3D inspection applications. Their speed, accuracy, non-contact measurement, full-field scanning, versatility, on-site inspection capability, seamless data processing, and cost-effectiveness make them an ideal choice for industries seeking to improve their quality control processes. 

The ability to generate precise digital representations of physical objects allows for better analysis, faster decision-making, and enhanced product development.

By investing in blue light scanning technology, businesses can benefit from improved efficiency, reduced costs, and increased customer satisfaction. Stay ahead in the world of 3D inspection with the advanced capabilities of blue light scanners.

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

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. 

Our Services


17845 Sky Park Circle Suite E Irvine, CA 92614