How Do 3D Scanners Work?

Business Insights

Capturing the Small Details with Structured Light Scanning

With the recent release of the Peel 2 CAD-S, an optimised version of the Peel 2 CAD for smaller objects, it is a good opportunity to write about the benefits of structured light 3D scanning. So, what is 3D scanning technology?

The 3D Scanner Technology

3D models are becoming one of the most versatile and useful pieces of data in this increasingly digitalised world. A 3D object offers many advantages when it comes to solutions where simulation, visualisation, analysis, manufacturing, and documentation are just some examples. On the other hand, a 3D scanner enables the user to create, from a real object, a virtual replica; in other words, a digital twin.

To capture point data, there are mainly four methods

  1. Photogrammetry: By overlapping many photographs around an object, a software application can determine coordinates via triangulation
  2. Laser: The scanner emits a laser beam that, upon bouncing from the object’s surface, a sensor defines the collision distance. Laser scanners are powerful tools, but very expensive. However, more affordable products like the Leica BLK360, for instance, are offering optimum price-performance ratios.
  3. CMM: Coordinate measuring machines use a probe that enters into contact with a part surface to create precise geometric and measurement data.
  4. Structured Light: A projector emits light patterns that deform upon reflecting from the object. Then, one or more cameras recognise 3D geometries through triangulation algorithms.

Scanning with the Peel 2 CAD-S

So, why structured light scanners are crucial in today’s market? Structured-light scanners offer complex freeform digital geometries in an instant and without even touching the part. Moreover, many industries are implementing robotics as a means for closed-loop automatic scanning processes.

Key industries benefiting from structured light scanners are:

  • Aerospace
  • Defence
  • Automotive
  • Medical
  • Entertainment
  • Archaeological documentation and studies

Structured Light for Reverse Engineering

Similarly, to quality inspection, structured light scanners are ideal for reverse engineering processes. In Essence, the reverse engineering process consists of acquiring design features and parameters from a finished product; in other words, inputs from outputs. So, why reverse engineering? Engineers can benefit a great deal from digitalising legacy parts, researching existing designs to implement resulting criteria into their own design processes, study part performance and failure causes, and much more.

Peel 2 CAD-S: Scanning the Smallest Features

Peel 3D, a subsidiary company of Creaform, specialises in developing affordable handheld scanners. Although not as potent as their Creaform counterparts, Peel3D is one of the few companies responsible for making professional quality scanners more accessible. Something fascinating about this Peel3D is that it began with the Peel 1 model, which subsequently evolved into the rest of the catalogue. The Peel 2 is a more potent iteration, while the Peel 2 CAD ads extra connectivity into reverse engineering software solutions. The latest variation is the Peel 2 CAD-S, which adapts to tinier scales and finer details.

Peel 2 CAD vs Peel 2 CAD-S: Key Differences

Let’s see in what way these scanners differ by comparing their main parameters.


Peel 2 CAD

Peel 2 CAD-S

Part Size Range






Mesh Resolution



Scanning Area



Depth of Field



Texture Resolution

50 to 150 DPI

50 to 250 DPI

As seen in the table, we can clearly notice that it all amounts to scale. While the Peel 2 CAD can deal with objects as big as 3 meters, the Peel 2 CAD-S is better suited for parts as small as 5cm. All in all, they complement each other very well… In fact, they come together in a bundle for a special discount price!

Software & Connectivity

These handheld scanners produce models at 550000 measurements/s with real-time visualisation tools. Once the model is ready, Peel3D software offers specialised editing tools for quick and efficient reverse engineering workflows. After finishing editing, a wide selection of export formats like STL, OBJ, DAE, TXT, and FBX are available, but the best part is that this software can also generate IGES, STEP and DXF. With solid part files like IGES and STEP or drawing files like DXF, working with scanned data inside CAD software like SolidWorks becomes a highly efficient process.

If you want to learn more about structured light scanners or if you’re looking to make the best choice on which 3D scanner is the most suited for you, Solid Print3D is here to help you. For more information, please call SolidPrint3D on 01926 333 777 or email on

Author: Alejandro Auerbach
Mechanical Engineer @ Solid Print3D