TCT Magazine is at the forefront of 3D printing technology and this is especially true when you look at the thronging crowds at this week's TCT Show + Personalize at the NEC in Birmingham.
It is for this very reason that EuroPac's newest 3D scanning offering has caused such a stir at the annual event - not least because it promises users TCT: Time Compression Technology.
John Beckett, Managing Director at EuroPac, met TCT Magazine for an exclusive one-on-one on the first day of the Show (September 25th) to reveal the potential of this incredible 3D scanning technology and give a taste as to the myriad ways it can be put to optimal use.
The system promises users hyper-accurate 3D scanning facilitated by a handheld imaging device. Unlike a fixed arm 3D scanner, which measures objects accurately because the scanning machine remains in a static position, EuroPac's ergonomic, compact handheld scanners the Artec Eva and "her little brother" the Artec Spider offer manufacturers a more flexible and efficient solution.
The Artec range of 3D scanners offer a unique perspective in the world of "point cloud capture" by the fact there is no tracking system necessary. The user needs only to push a button and move the Eva or the Spider around the object which picks up the item's geometry for real-time alignment.
Beckett explained that instead of the complexity of traditional industrial measuring methods the Eva and Spider offer companies a system that is not only easier to carry out, but is more accurate and cost-effective.
Eva is about the same size and weight as a travel kettle and it works in such a way that it captures and simultaneously processes up to 288,000 points per second - a dozen times faster than a laser scanner while providing high resolution of up to 0.5 mm and high accuracy of up to 0.1 mm. With complex subjects such as a human face, this process is easier as there is plenty of data for the software to build an accurate CAD image. While the technology offers high accuracy for objects such as cars - which can be trickier to 3D scan due to the plains of flat space, where data can be skewed due to distortion.
Using a scale bar complete with precision bar code dots, a usually tricky-to-3D-scan object such as a car can be accurately captured using the Eva 3D scanner thanks to the strategic placement of these special bar codes across the body of the vehicle. The bar code dots are picked up by the system and then translated into depth, height and thickness and are then processed as a 3D image on the computer.
Beckett explained that the Eva system is ideal for automotive applications. In this industry, the approval of a car design needs to be granted by the artistic team, the clay modellers and the engineering team and the Eva ensures that each step of the way the professionals involved in bringing a car design off the page and onto the production line is as accurate as possible.
"This is the revolution," Beckett stated. "Instead of a £40,000 machine that takes three hours to capture a consumer model vehicle, the Eva can scan the same car for £22,000 and much, much more quickly. It's super efficient, super accurate and five times faster."
Beckett went on to explain how the automotive applications of the Eva and her "little brother" do not stop at the body of the vehicle because, for example, the 3D scanner can also be utilised in perfecting seat sizes and other components by scanning a control group and calculating the mean data for the body shapes logged using the data from the imaging device.
Furthermore, he explained that EuroPac is pursuing some interesting applications in the fashion and medical industries; such as scanning vintage accessories and bringing old fashion designs back to life, and capturing the exact dimensions of a human donor liver before it is transported to ensure it is the exact right fit for the patient it is intended for - potentially saving lives.
Beckett concluded: "For me, this is a breakthrough."