As technology continues to evolve, so does the way we approach design. One of the latest advancements in this field is 3D laser scanning, which has quickly become a game-changer in creating highly accurate CAD models. Unlike traditional methods that require manual measurements and calculations, 3D laser scanning is able to capture precise data with incredible speed and detail, making it a highly efficient and cost-effective solution for design projects.

Imagine a laser beam scanning an object from every angle, capturing millions of points in mere seconds. That's 3D laser scanning in a nutshell. It's a non-contact, non-destructive technology that captures the shape and dimensions of an object with incredible accuracy. These data points are then used to create a 3D model in a CAD software.

3D laser scanning is a powerful tool that allows accurate capture of three-dimensional data for various applications, including the creation of CAD (computer-aided design) models. CAD models are used in numerous industries, including engineering, manufacturing, architecture, and construction, to name a few. Accurate CAD models are crucial in these industries as they aid in the design, prototyping, quality control, and inspection processes.

In this article, we'll explore the benefits of using 3D laser scanning to create accurate CAD models, as well as some of the common applications and industries where it's being used. We'll also cover some of the technical aspects of the technology, and how it works to capture data.

The Beauty of 3D Laser Scanning

With 3D laser scanning, you can capture complex geometries that would otherwise be impossible to measure accurately. Whether it's a small mechanical part or a massive building, 3D laser scanning can capture every nook and cranny with ease. Plus, you can save time and money by avoiding manual measurements and rework.

The use of 3D laser scanning for CAD modeling has many benefits over traditional measurement techniques. First and foremost, it provides greater accuracy, allowing the capture of fine details that would be difficult or impossible to achieve using manual measurements. 

Additionally, 3D laser scanning saves time and cost by eliminating manual measurements and allowing faster data processing. The use of 3D laser scanning also improves efficiency and productivity by automating certain tasks and enhancing collaboration between different departments. And since it's a non-contact method, you can avoid damaging delicate or valuable objects.

3D scan in CAD

The integration of CAD (Computer-Aided Design) applications with 3D scanning technology has opened up new avenues for designers and engineers across many industries. Combining the accuracy of 3D scanning with the power and versatility of CAD applications is providing businesses with an efficient and effective method to develop prototypes quicker and more accurately than ever before.

Using 3D scans in CAD offers a number of benefits. One of the main benefits is improved accuracy. With traditional measurements, there is always a risk of human error. On the other hand, 3D scanning is highly accurate and can capture even the most intricate details of an object. This accuracy is essential in industries such as aerospace, automotive, and medical device manufacturing where precision is critical.

Another benefit of 3D scanning in CAD is time savings. Creating an accurate and detailed 3D model of a complex object manually could take days or even weeks. With 3D scanning technology, this process can be completed within hours, allowing manufacturers to start production much faster. In addition, the CAD software allows for modifications or alterations to be made to the model quickly, reducing design and production time even further.

3D scanning is not limited to just manufacturing. The technology is also applied in architecture, where it can be used to create highly detailed and accurate models of buildings and structures. This allows architects to visualize their designs better, identify potential issues, and make changes before construction begins. It also enables teams to collaborate more effectively, improving communication and reducing the risk of errors or misinterpretations.

Furthermore, 3D scanning is used in the entertainment industry, specifically in the creation of animated movies and video games. 3D scanning can capture the physical appearance of actors or objects which are then used to create highly realistic digital models in the design process. This technology has been used in blockbusters like Jurassic World and Life of Pi and can be seen in the highly immersive video games such as Call of Duty and FIFA.

When it comes to CAD design, 3D scanning complements the design process, taking its capabilities to the next level. 3D scanning streamlines the process allowing for a more efficient and reliable final product. As CAD software becomes more sophisticated, the integration of 3D scanning is becoming increasingly common. This is leading to a more comprehensive toolset with which designers can create highly detailed and accurate designs.

Here's a breakdown of how CAD applications and 3D scanning work together:


3D scanners create an accurate digital representation of the object they are scanning by measuring points on the object's surface. This data is stored in a point cloud which can then be processed and converted into a 3D CAD model.


CAD applications allow designers and engineers to create and modify 3D models on a computer. This allows them to quickly and accurately design and test products before they are produced.

Reverse Engineering

Using CAD applications alongside 3D scanning, designers and engineers can reverse engineer existing products. They can scan an existing object, convert the scan data into a CAD model, and then make any necessary modifications.

3D Printing

CAD applications and 3D scanning play a major role in the 3D printing process. Designers and engineers can create a 3D model in a CAD application, and then send it to the 3D printer, which will then create a physical object based on the 3D file.

3D printer creating a 3D scanned object


The benefits of combining 3D scanning with CAD applications include faster product design, a decrease in errors, and more accurate designs. Additionally, being able to reverse engineer existing products means that businesses can produce spare parts, redesign outdated parts, and create products with history.

Process of 3D scan to CAD

The process of 3D laser scanning for CAD modeling involves three main steps: preparation, scanning, and post-processing. 

  • Preparation includes cleaning and preparing the object to be scanned and selecting the appropriate scanner and settings. 
  • Scanning involves positioning the scanner and capturing the data. 
  • Finally, post-processing involves processing the raw data and creating the CAD model.

The applications of 3D laser scanning for CAD modeling are numerous and diverse. In the engineering and manufacturing industries, it is used for design and prototyping, quality control, and inspection.

CAD software and reverse engineering

CAD software has revolutionized the design process, and the reverse engineering capabilities of these programs have made it possible to create new designs from existing parts. Reverse engineering is the process of creating a new CAD model from a physical object. This technology is useful in a range of industries, including manufacturing, automotive, aerospace, and architecture.

Example screen of a CAD software with a 3D model

Reverse engineering workflow

The reverse engineering workflow typically involves scanning the physical object and collecting scan data. This data is then processed using a variety of software tools to create a solid CAD model. This process can be expensive and time-consuming, but the benefits are significant, including the ability to create parts that are based on existing designs.

Challenges in the process

Different reverse engineering challenges can arise during the CAD process, including the type of physical object being scanned, the resolution of the scan data, and the complexity of the part. To overcome these challenges, users must have comprehensive knowledge of the software, the hardware, and the reverse engineering workflow.

Once the final CAD model is created, it can be used to manufacture new parts or update existing designs, making the reverse engineering process highly valuable. However, it's important to note that the process of reverse engineering is not limited to CAD software. Other CAD software can also be used in conjunction with the reverse engineering workflow for a successful outcome.

Reverse engineering capabilities

The reverse engineering capabilities of CAD software offer an opportunity to create a solid CAD model from a physical object. The reverse engineering challenges encountered during the process can be minimized with expertise and knowledge of the reverse engineering workflow. This technology allows manufacturers to modify and update existing designs and continue to evolve their products in the CAD environment.

Applications of 3D Laser Scanning for CAD Modeling

  • Architecture and Construction: 3D laser scanning is being used in the architecture and construction industries to create accurate CAD models of buildings, bridges, and other structures. This technology can help identify potential design flaws and ensure that all measurements are precise.
  • Product Design: 3D laser scanning is also being used in product design to create accurate CAD models of products. This technology can help designers identify potential issues before the product is manufactured, saving time and money in the long run.
  • Industrial Design: 3D laser scanning is also being used in industrial design to create accurate CAD models of machinery and other equipment. This technology can help identify potential issues and ensure that all measurements are precise, improving the overall functionality of the equipment.

3D laser scanning has a wide range of applications. In architecture and construction, it's used to capture existing structures and create accurate models for renovations or additions. In product design, it's used to create prototypes and molds with precise measurements. In the automotive industry, it's used to capture complex parts and assemblies for manufacturing. The possibilities are endless!

Reverse engineer and autodesk fusion in CAD software with a detailed 3D model thanks to 3D laser scanning

If you're tired of inaccurate measurements and wasted time, 3D laser scanning is the answer. It's a fast, accurate, and non-contact method of capturing the shape and dimensions of any object.