I recently attended a conference on "3D Measurement in Engineering and Manufacturing" at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. 3D non-contact measurement is used for engineering and manufacturing process validation. White light and laser 3D scanning technologies provide a foundation for precise measurement, reverse engineering, tool construction, and quality control.
The technology is considered to be on the up-slope of the technology hype cycle and is being utilized by automotive companies, aircraft manufacturers, and vehicle component suppliers. Initial use of the technology centered on quality control, but has since expanded into engineering optimization and design validation. Like many new information technology innovations, there exists several of the classic challenges of data management, lack of industry standards, and availability of training and certification.
My goal for attending the conference was to gain exposure to innovation in the product engineering and manufacturing quality areas. While that goal was realized, I also gained insight into tremendous opportunity for integration of digital metrology into the core information technology environment of a manufacturing enterprise and the potential for process and quality improvement.