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How to Post Process 3D Scan Data for import into SOLIDWORKS

In this video I demonstrate how to scan large structures and post process the 3D scan data for SOLIDWORKS. I traveled to a local yacht club and used the Artec Leo 3D scanner to scan a large marine travel lift. I chose the Leo because it’s portable scanner, so no laptop is required. This allows for easy movement around objects and confined spaces.

Scanning the large structure

As I scan the object, I can see the scan on the screen located on the back of the Artec Leo. The screen shows a range of the objects being captured, as well as the data density, or data quality, of what I am scanning. The data is saved to a microSD card located at the bottom of the Leo.

3D scanning a large marine travel lift with Artec Leo

Post-processing 3D scan data to SOLIDWORKS

Once I transfer the scan data from the microSD card onto my computer,  I’ll upload the scan data to Artec Studio post-processing software. My goal is to create a single mesh file so I can reverse engineer in SOLIDWORKS.

Global Registration

The first step after a new project is created in Artec Studio is to delete any extraneous scan data that I am not interested in. In this case, I’m going to keep all the data that I have. Next, we’re going to apply Global Registration. The Global Registration program takes all the scanned data and reviews it against nearby data to make sure that there is no redundant data.

Next, I can run a noise reduction algorithm called Outlier Removal. After reviewing this data and seeing that it’s quite clean already, I am choosing to skip this step.

Sharp Fusion

Next in line is the Sharp Fusion algorithm that will take all the scanned frames and generate a mesh file from it. For Sharp Fusion, we can adjust the resolution to whatever suits our needs. I’m going to use a one-millimeter resolution for this project. I can now allow the Sharp Fusion algorithm to fill holes by generating a completely watertight mesh or based on a certain radius. I’m going to allow the sharp fusion to fill holes up to three millimeters in radius. This will give us a good balance of a nice clean mesh without creating too much artificial geometry. After 8 minutes, the sharp fusion has completed, and we’re left with one tessellated model that’s been calculated from all the individual scans.

As you can see below, we are left with a good representation of the hydraulic lines, and all the surfaces are showing up. There are a couple of holes, but nothing that’s going to stop us from filling, or reverse engineering, the work that we need to do.

scan results after sharp fusion

Mesh Simplification

The next thing that I will do to make this a little bit easier to import into SOLIDWORKS is to run a Mesh Simplification. To do that, I will use the Shape Deviation method and choose a tolerance that I am comfortable with for reverse engineering. I’m going to use 0.1 millimeters. This will reduce the file size significantly but won’t affect the overall geometry too much.

Now that the Mesh Simplification is finished, the last step before moving into SOLIDWORKS is to move the mesh to a more useful coordinate system. I can do that by constructing some planes on the actual machine. Finally, we’ll go into the Precise Positioning editing tool and align those planes with the origins. I can now save this as an STL file and export it into SOLIDWORKS.