Q-Plus Labs

Sitemap | Contact Us 

Dimensional Measurement Blog

Three Types of 3D Scanning Methods for Non-Contact Nano Measurement

Posted by Mike Knicker on Feb 18, 2015 2:50:00 PM

Three Types of 3D Scanning Methods for Non-Contact Nano Measurement

Dimensional inspection includes many types of scanning devices for a broad range of applications. In the realm of 3D Scanning, the level of detail that can be captured makes it the method of choice, especially for measuring very small objects requiring non-contact measurement methods.

Whereas contact 3D scanners collect measurement data by physically scanning the object with a device that comes into contact with every point on the surface, non-contact 3D Scanners collect immense amounts of data quickly without altering the geometry of the object. This is also an advantage for collecting measurements on the nano scale.

3 Types of Non-Contact 3D Scanning Methods

Laser-Scanning Confocal Microscopes
A confocal microscope uses a process called optical sectioning to collect images from various depths. These images can be reconstructed with a computer to create a 3D model of complex small objects. Unlike other laser systems, a confocal microscope only sees one depth level at a time, which allows it to generate a highly controlled depth of focus for very small objects with tight tolerances.

White Light Interferometry
This non-contact measurement system allows you to obtain surface measurements at the nanometer level. The technology behind white light interferometry uses wave superposition to measure distances based on data collected about reflected wave interactions. Interferometers can also be combined with microscopes to measure very small objects. Because they rely on the detection of waves and not optical images, interferometers are also useful for measuring objects with reflective surfaces.

Chromatic Confocal
Like interferometry, chromatic confocal also uses white light to collect measurement data. However, whereas interferometry uses the superposition of waves after they are reflected off the object, chromatic confocal measures the wavelength as it hits the surface of the object. This method produces more reliable results when measuring surface roughness or step-height depth, due to the minimum mathematical calculation required. The tolerances of large objects may allow the use of a thin whitening spray to facilitate scanning but the geometry of very small objects could be potentially buried by it. Fortunately, all of these methods work well with various types of surfaces from reflective to absorbent.

If you require any of these types of 3D Scanning methods, or if you're not sure what you need, the experts at Q-PLUS Labs are here to help. We'll work closely with you through every step of the process to ensure that you get the best results for your application. Contact us anytime if you have questions, or if you're ready to get started, call us today.


dimensional measurement assessment


Read More

Topics: dimensional measurement, 3D scanners, 3D Scanning, CMMs, articulating arms, 3D scanning equipment, case studies, engine, Faro Arm, Faro, SAE, race car, Fullerton SAE

Q-PLUS Labs' Case Study: California State University, Fullerton SAE Race Car Engine Dimensional Analysis

Posted by Mike Knicker on Jan 27, 2015 10:55:00 AM

Q-PLUS Labs Case Study: Race Car Engine

California State University, Fullerton's Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) chapter chose Q-PLUS Labs to aid them with the challenge to compete in the Formula SAE, a competition which encompasses designing, building, and competing a mini-formula style race car that will be evaluated for its potential as a production item.


chassisFullerton's SAE uses a Yamaha R6 Motorcycle engine, a large displacement choice for the 610cc class. The car's design utilizes the R6 engine as a stressed member to connect the drivetrain to the cockpit. This type of engine design requires the chassis to work with the engine as an active structural element of the chassis to transmit forces and torques, rather than using standard anti-vibration mounts to passively contain it. The R6 engine was chosen based off its high power output and ability to be used as a stressed member. In conjunction with suspension design and tire selection, the engine weight works well to keel the tires while heated under the track's conditions.

Our Process


Because the race car's design is based on the integrity and precision accuracy of the engine's measurements, Fullerton's SAE sought the expertise of Q-PLUS Labs' dimensional inspection engineers. Using a Faro Arm CMM, Q-PLUS Labs provided a dimensional analysis of each mounting point for the engine. These points are integral not only to the race car's design but also to the safety of the driver.

Given the engine's exact 3D measurements, Fullerton's SAE could confidently proceed with their design. They were able to retrofit and reverse engineer the chassis to properly fit onto the race car's engine. Currently in the manufacturing stage process, in a few months they will produce the assembled chassis to compete in the Formula SAE® Lincoln this June.


dimensional measurement assessment


Read More

Topics: dimensional measurement, 3D scanners, 3D Scanning, CMMs, articulating arms, 3D scanning equipment, case studies, engine, Faro Arm, Faro, SAE, race car, Fullerton SAE

A Reverse Engineering Checklist for Selecting the Right Provider

Posted by Mike Knicker on Jan 6, 2015 10:00:00 AM


Reverse engineering is not an activity that most people can effectively perform without the help of an outsourced provider. It often requires one or more types of advanced measurement equipment, specialized software, and training to use these tools. Of course, purchasing equipment and performing measurements in-house is possible, but if you do decide to outsource, finding a qualified provider is the first step.

When looking for a provider, choose one that has the necessary skills and certifications specific to your industry. In addition to this, there are several other characteristics to seek out.

Selecting a Reverse Engineering Provider

This short checklist represents just the essential factors to look for in an outsourced provider:

  1. Involvement in your industry - Although it is not a necessity, working with a provider that has prior experience with the types of objects you are reverse engineering will result in a shorter learning curve for your project.
  2. Involvement in other industries - It may seem counterintuitive, but a provider that operates in multiple industries is better able to solve the many challenges that can arise with reverse engineering. For example, a lab that has worked in the micro-manufacturing industry might have insights into the best way to reverse engineer a piece of jewelry because it is familiar with small, detailed parts.
  3. Problem-solving expertise - Many reverse engineering applications require a certain amount of problem solving, even just to determine what types of measurements should be used. The more experience a provider has, the better able it will be to help with your application.
  4. The right equipment - Every reverse engineering application is different, and not all of them require the same type of equipment. For example, many people are familiar with the capabilities of 3D laser scanning, but did you know that it cannot be used for every type of object? Look for a provider that uses multiple different types of equipment so that you can be sure it has the right tools for the job -- and not just the tools it happens to have in the lab.

If you are looking for a reverse engineering provider, get in touch with the experts at Q-PLUS Labs. We use measurement equipment of all types for reverse engineering and dimensional inspection. We have also worked with virtually every type of industry and have been exposed to a wide range of reverse engineering challenges. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.

What other factors might you consider when selecting a reverse engineering lab?

New Call-to-action

Read More

Topics: reverse engineering

3D Scanning Basics: How Structured Light Scanning Works

Posted by Mike Knicker on Dec 16, 2014 10:00:00 AM


One of the most common types of non-contact 3D scanning is structured light scanning. Used for both dimensional inspection and reverse engineering, structured light scanning employs projected light and cameras to measure the three-dimensional surfaces of an object.

How Structured Light Scanning Works

The most basic principle behind structured light 3D scanning is triangulation. Light is projected in a pattern (usually a series of parallel lines) that becomes distorted on the surface of the object. Cameras capture this distortion from multiple angles, triangulation calculates the distance to specific points on the object, and the three-dimensional coordinates are used to digitally reconstruct the object in great detail.

The types of light used in structured light scanning include both white light and blue light. Although both options are effective in terms of accuracy and speed, blue light offers some benefits over white light in certain situations because it typically has:

  • More portable equipment
  • An LED light source that lasts longer
  • A cooler operating temperature than white light
  • Higher tolerance for scanning in a room with other light sources

Regardless of whether you use white light or blue light, the concepts behind the technology remain the same: A light pattern is projected onto an object, and cameras measure the distortions caused by the surface details of the object.

When to Use Structured Light Scanning

You might use this technique when contact scanners are not appropriate. For example, if the object is elastic, delicate, or otherwise difficult to handle, structured light scanning can be used without impacting the surface of the object.

Because they project many points of light at the same time, structured light scanners operate with great speed and precision relative to some other scanning methods. This efficiency is one of the reasons that this type of scanning is becoming more commonplace. Structured light scanning can also be used from the micro scale all the way to large objects such as airplanes, thus making it one of the more versatile 3D scanning technologies available.

The type of structured light scanning you should use will depend on other surface characteristics such as reflectivity, transparency, and roughness. In some cases, structured light scanning is not an appropriate method because diffraction and reflection can affect the measurements. The best way to decide which type of scanning makes the most sense for your application is to work with a qualified 3D scanning provider that has extensive experience with multiple scanning techniques.

If you are interested in learning more about structured light scanning and other 3D scanning techniques for a practical application, contact the experts at Q-PLUS Labs. We'll work closely with you to determine the type of scanning that makes the most sense for your application so you can get useful results within your budget. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

What other types of 3D scanning are you curious about?

New Call-to-action

Read More

Topics: 3D Scanning

Five of the Best Applications for 3D Scanning

Posted by Mike Knicker on Dec 2, 2014 10:00:00 AM


3D scanning can be employed for a wide range of applications because it is a versatile technology that can be used for objects with various sizes, shapes, and surface characteristics. Although each application has different requirements, the core concept behind the technology remains the same: Dimensional coordinate data is collected and processed using point cloud software.

Five 3D Scanning Applications

Some of the most common 3D scanning applications include:

  1. Reverse engineering - This process can be used when you want to replicate an object but do not have the original engineering drawings or knowledge of the production process. By generating an accurate 3D CAD model of the object using 3D scanning, you can use reverse engineering to create a duplicate based on the original.
  2. First article inspection - When setting up a new production line, manufacturers rely on first article inspection to measure parts and verify that they meet the engineering specifications. After being scanned, the 3D model of the first article can be compared with the engineering digital model, and process modifications can be made accordingly. One reason that 3D scanning is so useful for this application is that it is a relatively fast way to measure parts with a high degree of accuracy.
  3. Quality control inspection - Throughout the production process, confirming that parts meet the specified quality standards is important. 3D scanning can be used at the end of a manufacturing line to rapidly check each part, or examples from batches can be sent to a lab for quality control inspection.
  4. Analysis - Whether you want to analyze the aerodynamic characteristics of an object or compare the contours of two different parts, 3D scanning provides detailed data that can be processed and analyzed using a variety of software solutions.
  5. Documentation - 3D scanning can be used to capture the details of an object for future reference. Examples of this type of application include a series of prototypes, manual modifications to a part, or historical documentation of an artifact.

As you can see, 3D scanning can be used for numerous applications across a broad range of industries. Because it is such a wide-ranging technology, working with a provider that has the expertise needed for your particular application is important.

Q-PLUS Labs provides 3D scanning services for all types of industries and applications. If you need help using this technology for your business, contact us today for a free assessment.

How have you used 3D scanning for your business?

New Call-to-action

Read More

Dimensional Inspection Services: More than Just Measurement

Posted by Mike Knicker on Nov 18, 2014 10:00:00 AM


Although accurate and precise measurements are key components of dimensional inspection services, these are not the only qualities you should look for in a provider. You want a partner that can help you solve problems and identify potential issues that you may have not yet recognized.

The manufacturing process is full of potential pitfalls, especially when you are trying to develop a new product on a tight timeline. Employing a dimensional inspection provider you can rely on for more than just measurement will help you operate more efficiently and possibly cost you less money in the long run.

Dimensional Inspection Services: Beyond Measuring

Whether you are implementing a new manufacturing process or trying to improve existing systems, dimensional measurement is an integral part of the solution. A partner that can do more than just provide technical services will help you operate efficiently and cost-effectively. Some of the qualities to look for in a dimensional inspection services provider include:

  • Forward thinking - The manufacturing process requires many steps, and to get it right the first time, you must have foresight and think strategically. Look for a provider that is invested in the whole process, not just the measurement tasks you require.
  • Attention to detail - Even the smallest cut corner can have a major impact on a manufacturing process, which is why working with a provider that is as committed to the little details as you are is so important.
  • Industry expertise - Almost any engineer can perform basic dimensional inspection with a little training. In fact, there are many reasons engineers benefit from learning more about metrology. However, dimensional inspection in the context of the manufacturing world is a different story. You need a partner that understands industry-specific requirements and manufacturing methods, and can interpret engineering drawings.
  • Embrace of technology - Metrology technology and equipment are constantly evolving, which means there are always new ways to do the job better, faster, or in a more affordable manner. Look for a partner that stays on the cutting edge of dimensional inspection technology so you can reap the benefits.

Q-PLUS Labs has the expertise and experience you need in a dimensional inspection partner. With almost 30 years in the business, we have worked in a broad range of manufacturing environments in all types of industries. Our trained staff can help you recognize potential problems and identify ways to improve your processes. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

What qualities do you look for in a dimensional inspection services partner?

New Call-to-action

Read More

Topics: dimensional inspection

3 Common Challenges in Reverse Engineering

Posted by Mike Knicker on Nov 3, 2014 10:00:00 AM


Reverse engineering is used in a broad range of industries for numerous types of applications. Manufacturers and product developers use reverse engineering to replicate worn parts, to convert physical models to digital ones, and to assess the dimensions of objects. However, although it is fairly common in certain industries, that does not necessarily make it easy. Fortunately, some of the most common challenges in reverse engineering are easily solvable with the right approach.

3 Common Reverse Engineering Challenges

Some of the most common reverse engineering challenges that you are likely to face include:

  1. Not having the right equipment - Even if you have successfully reverse engineered an object in the past, the equipment you have in-house may not be sufficient for the next object you must scan. Differences in the size, shape, and surface characteristics of the object can impact the types of 3D scanning equipment that are most suitable for the job. To solve this problem, you can either purchase new equipment that matches your needs or outsource to a lab that has the necessary tools.
  2. Not having the right software - After 3D scanning equipment creates a point cloud, the data must be converted to a usable digital format. The right software tools are essential for effectively using your 3D scanning data. When selecting software for reverse engineering, you must be sure that it is compatible with your scanning equipment and any other software programs you intend to use. Working with an experienced provider is a good solution for either selecting the best software programs for the task at hand or outsourcing the project if you don't have the tools in-house.
  3. Not having the right skills - In addition to having the scanning equipment and software to effectively reverse engineer an object, you need people who are trained to use these tools. Not every company has a team with the right mix of skills for reverse engineering. To solve this problem, you can hire new staff, train your existing employees, or outsource to a qualified provider.

Q-PLUS has decades of experience with reverse engineering for a broad range of applications. We also offer multiple types of equipment to ensure that we can scan virtually any type of object. We'll work closely with you and your team to find the best possible solutions for your reverse engineering needs. Contact us today if you would like to learn more or to schedule a free consultation.

What reverse engineering challenges have you faced?

New Call-to-action

Read More

Topics: reverse engineering

6 Types of Dimensional Inspection Equipment

Posted by Mike Knicker on Oct 22, 2014 1:00:00 PM


Dimensional inspection equipment can range from a basic ruler that measures length to an optical sensor that provides measurements at the nano scale. Obviously, these two types of equipment are not likely to be used for the same application. The type of dimensional inspection equipment that should be used for a particular application depends on a number of factors, including:

  • The level of accuracy required
  • Whether the object can be touched during the measurement process
  • The size and shape of the object
  • How you intend to use the results

Whether you are performing first article inspection, reverse engineering, or quality control on a manufacturing line, selecting the right dimensional inspection equipment for the job is critical.

6 Types of Dimensional Inspection Equipment

Some of the most common types of dimensional inspection equipment you are likely to encounter include:

  1. Hand tools - Although they may be the most basic type of measurement equipment, hand tools remain useful for certain applications. When all you need is a simple solution, a fixed caliper or ring gauge can be both the most effective and the most affordable option. Hand tools also are highly portable, especially when compared with the more high-tech equipment types.
  2. Coordinate measuring machines - Also known as CMMs, this popular type of measurement equipment takes the physical measurements of an object and converts them to a digital format. Although CMMs produce relatively fast and accurate results, they are not right for every application. Because they use a touch-based sensor, CMMs cannot be used with objects that have an elastic surface or are otherwise too delicate to touch during the measurement process.
  3. Optical comparators - This type of equipment projects light onto an object with a screen behind it. The edges of the silhouette are measured to determine the length and width of the object. The method can also be used to compare an object to a desired standard by using a physical overlay.
  4. Structured light scanners - These are a good option when three-dimensional measurements are required and the object cannot be touched or has a lot of freeform geometry. Dimensions are obtained by projecting a pattern of light onto the object and measuring the distortions caused by its surface characteristics.
  5. Laser scanners - Another type of non-contact measurement method uses lasers. Similar to structured light scanners, the reflection of a laser point or line is used to measure the distance to the surface of an object. The resulting point cloud is used to create a 3D rendering that can be employed for reverse engineering, dimensional inspection, or other applications.
  6. Vision systems - This type of measurement instrument employs high-resolution video to gather images that are processed with integrated software. Vision systems are often used in quality control applications that require a high level of accuracy and precision while producing fast and reliable results.

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of dimensional inspection equipment. Customized solutions can be created and specialized hardware can be found for virtually every type of measurement scenario. Regardless of what the application is, selecting the right type of equipment to produce the results you need at a price you can afford is critical.

Q-PLUS Labs offers both dimensional inspection equipment and measurement services for all types of applications. If you want to purchase equipment, we offer both new and pre-owned options from a broad range of manufacturers. If you want to outsource dimensional measurement services, our trained staff has decades of experience and dozens of equipment options at their disposal. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

What type of dimensional inspection equipment do you think you need for your application?

New Call-to-action

Read More

Topics: dimensional inspection equipment

The 3D Scanning Checklist: What to Look for in a Provider

Posted by Mike Knicker on Oct 7, 2014 9:00:00 AM


Selecting the right 3D scanning provider is always important, but it is especially critical if your applications require a certain level of accuracy and traceability. The first step is to identify a short list of qualified providers that offer the type of scanning you need, and then you must select the one that is the best fit for you and the application at hand.

If you have decided to outsource 3D scanning services, use this checklist to help determine which provider is right for you.

What to Look for in a 3D Scanning Provider

  • Expertise - This is the most obvious item on the list, but it is still important to ask whether the provider has expertise in the particular type of 3D scanning you need. For example, a lab that works mainly with contact sensors such as coordinate measuring machines might not have the level of expertise you need for 3D laser scanning.
  • Experience - Although expertise in 3D scanning is an obvious necessity, you also want a provider that has both broad and deep experience in the field. Look for a lab that has not only provided services for other companies in your industry, but who also has experience in other types of applications. The more experience a lab has across a range of applications, the deeper its knowledge base will be.
  • Versatility - There are multiple types of 3D scanning equipment, but not all of them are appropriate for all applications. Make sure your provider offers multiple types of scanning options so you can be confident that they have access to the best solutions for you.
  • Certification - Look for ISO 9001 registration and ISO 17025 accreditation in any provider you select. If you work in specialized areas such as the nuclear or defense industries, make sure the lab you employ has the appropriate certifications in these fields.
  • Testimonials - A good provider will have plenty of happy customers who have offered positive testimonials about their experiences. You can also ask for references to contact former and current clients to ask about customer service and any other questions or concerns you might have.
  • Industry involvement - 3D scanning is a dynamic field, and you want your provider to be on the leading edge of it. Look for a lab that stays involved in the industry through trade organizations to ensure that they are up on the latest technologies available.
  • Confidentiality - Whether you represent a government agency or are developing a proprietary prototype, you must be confident that your provider closely protects your intellectual property.
  • Collaborative process - If you have experience with 3D scanning, you already may know exactly what equipment you want to use. But more often than not, you will need your outsourcing provider to tell you what will work best. Look for a lab that engages in a collaborative process to help you decide what type of scanning will best meet both your requirements and your budget.

Q-PLUS Labs meets all of these criteria and more. Since 1987, we have been providing scanning services to several different industry types for a broad range of applications. Contact us today to learn more about how we work and to get a free assessment of your dimensional measurement needs.

New Call-to-action

Read More

Topics: 3D Scanning

Q-PLUS Labs' Case Study: Creosote Bush Scanning for Harvard University Graduate School

Posted by Mike Knicker on Sep 23, 2014 10:00:00 AM

Q-PLUS Labs Case Study: Creosote Bush


This unique scanning project came to Q-PLUS Labs as a result of a client needing a 3D scan of a creosote bush’s root system for his graduate project.

The creosote roots initially posed a challenge to scan due to the irregular geometry of their structure. Q-PLUS Labs’ engineers were faced with the mission of accurately scanning this organic form while mainly concentrating their efforts on scanning the center of the root system.

Our Process

The scanner must be able to project a light grid which creates a target platform for the camera to capture the image. The two work together to digitize the entire image to create the scan. However, due to the freeform of movement of the roots combined with the depth of the bark’s many crevices, this project posed a difficult target surface to scan.

The engineers at Q-PLUS Labs began the process by stabilizing the root system at the base and maintained a static scanning environment which required carefully maneuvering the scanner around the suspended object. Trimming back the roots to get the base of the root system also demanded scans at multiple angles.

The final step involved intensive surfacing which called for creative approaches and commitment to quality. The small geometry plus high levels of curvature on the many root tendrils made surfacing very complicated making attention to every detail imperative for the integrity of the completed scan.

Project Features

  • Intensive surfacing process
  • Organic thin and winding shape
  • Scanned using many camera angles
  • Creative & detail oriented scanning techniques


dimensional measurement assessment


Read More

Topics: 3D scanners, 3D Scanning