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Formeon FAQ

3D scanning takes the part, model or scene and creates digital data. It is to the exact scale as it is in the physical world with all the dimensions, surfaces and features. This removes the need for time and resource consuming hand measuring and CAD modelling of the part feature by feature.

The information we need depends on what type of scanning project you have.

For general 3D scanning, we need to know what the item is, the surface type and the size of the part(s)/assemblies.

For inspection and validation of parts/assemblies, a golden sample, 2D drawing(s) and general/specific tolerance information and special characteristics (SC) points are required. A 3D model may also be necessary depending on the project.

Reach out to us anyway you want and we'll gather the relevant information from you to quote or begin a project.

Transparent surfaces present the largest challenge to most 3D scanners. This is because the reflected light (white, laser, infrared) is degraded, scattered or non-existent and doesn't return to the 3D scanners light sensor as it needs to.

At our disposal are 3D scanning sprays that make the surface an ideal substrate and will evaporate after a few hours, requiring no clean up.

Note: some scanners also suffer with dark or shiny surfaces. Our scanners do not. As such, sprays are not usually needed on these surfaces.

If the data collected is fully watertight, then yes. There are a number a ways to do this including ensuring the whole parts is scanned with no holes, or putting the model through a post-processing stage. However, note that any issues such as deformation, wear or breakages will also be printed. We can of course solve these issues, but that's a more involved process.

Your data can be sent any way you choose. Maybe you have a portal or FTP of your own? Or maybe a file transfer site will work. Let us know, but by default we'll use a WeTransfer file transfer link.

Our scanners are able to scan parts from the size of a snooker ball up to the size of a car. If you need smaller or larger, we have the means, partners and a network to facilitate your requirements.

They whole point of 3D scanning is that it's fast and effective.

We'll keep it that way.

Urgent projects can be done same day if needed with only large/complex projects taking longer than a week.

It is often more cost-effective and yields quicker results to send the parts to our studio, but if this is not possible we’re certainly able to scan on site.

3D scanners have two main metrics that dictate the level of detail or how true-to-life a 3D scan is.

  • Accuracy is how true to life a measurement or point location is
  • Resolution is the amount of detail or sharpness controlled by the amount of points captured in a given area

This depends on the level of data you require. We can send .STL mesh files, .STEP/.IGES/.X_T model files and even native .PRT/.SLDPRT if we reverse engineer parts fully.

We cover the vast majority of the UK. For an outline, see our Locations page.

Learn about 3D scanning

Knowledge Hub

3D Scanning vs Reverse Engineering

It depends on what end use the data has.
The data captured can be used to either create reference data (3D Scanning) or to create fully defined parametric CAD data (3D Scanning plus Reverse Engineering).

3D Scanning (Reference data)

– Can be in colour
– Not editable
– Good as a spatial model to spot clashes
– Surfaces to work from
– Used for measurement and inspection
– Used for FEA analysis

Reverse Engineering (Parametric CAD data)

– Editable CAD is created in native formats
– Improve design
– Reinstate design intent such as flat surfaces or worn edges
– Manufacture new parts from

Accuracy & Resolution

Accuracy (single scan & volumetric)

This is how true to life a measurement or point location is. Single scan accuracy refers to how accurate the data is from one point in a single frame to another point in the same frame. Volumetric accuracy refers to the accuracy drop-off as the size of the scan increases and the further the scanner moves away from its start point. There are methods of keeping this drop-off to a minimum, however.


The amount of detail or sharpness of the scan depends on the resolution. If a part has features of 0.1mm, a scan resolution of 0.2mm will not identify these features. Resolution refers to the number of points captured in a given area and the point-to-point measurement of them.

Handheld vs Fixed Scanners​

There are benefits and drawbacks to both types of scanner.

Mobile scanners are much more versatile in their use. They’re able to get into smaller areas, get to more remote locations and can scan a larger variation of sizes. Mobile scanners though, are often reliant on scan targets to achieve the same level of accuracy and resolution as their longer reaching fixed arm counterparts.

Datum Features & Alignments​

When scanning for inspection/validation or comparing to CAD data, inform us if there are surfaces or features you wish to use as a datum for our alignment.

There are multiple methods of alignment we use: Best Fit and Datum Feature

Best Fit Alignment

This alignment method is the easiest and fastest method of aligning scan data to CAD data. It uses a best-fit-average for the geometry with the scan data being aligned to the most amount of points across the part. However, this method uses the whole part for the calculated alignment and as such, does not take datum features such as flat faces, mounting points or clip features into consideration. Nor does it take into consideration design intent of the part

Datum Feature Alignment

Datum feature method of alignment involves aligning matching features (labelled on the 2D drawing) on both the scanned data and the CAD model. Our software then aligns the two sets of data using GD&T rules ensuring the part is inspected and results are drawn in a reliable, consistent way.

Post Processing & Scan Development​​

Once the scan has been completed, there may be a requirement to post-process the data. Key reasons include multi-scan alignment, XYZ part alignment, hole filling, imperfection removal, file size reduction and/or general mesh clean-up. In addition, and depending on the project, surface or feature creation takes place at the point resulting in a solid model to work with.
Point Cloud
Reference Model
CAD Model

Part Preparation

Ensure that the part is thoroughly cleaned and free of oil, dirt, and grease. Our scanners are accurate and can detect surface contaminants such as paint thickness and any remaining dirt or grease left on the part. Vapour blasting automotive/motorcycle parts prior to scanning cleans parts up in a non-aggressive. We’re happy to arrange this within our network of support partners if required.

Line of Sight​

All 3D scanners use a combination of a camera sensor and a light source. This means scanners can only capture what they can see and reliably digitally recreate making holes, pockets and slots potentially channelling.

As a general rule, scanning deeper than 1x the hole diameter is not going to give reliable data. For example, the scanner will only be able to ‘see’ 10mm into a 10mm diameter hole. If the holes are small, we suggest using a pin or dowel of the correct diameter to increase the reliability of the captured data.

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