artec 3d scanners

Artec Spider – Scanning Motorcycle Engine With Robotic Arm

Artec makes some of the best 3D scanners you can find. The Artec Spider and the Artec Eva, in particular, belong in a class of their own. These scanners allow designers to create CAD models of real parts, verify product quality by comparing CAD designs to actual manufactured parts, and to make mass customized products.

However, we only design our scanners to fit well in the hand for ease of use. So, when we discovered that some of our customers are actually mounting these scanners onto robotic systems, we were really surprised – albeit in a pleasant way!

Just recently, one customer showed us a video in which he connects the Spider to a robotic arm and then uses it to scan a motorcycle engine. The video was submitted by a Norwegian 3D graphics, printing, and modeling company NorNet. NorNet recently purchased a Spider scanner to digitize their museum exhibits such as rare car parts, plaster figures, and woodcarvings. The scanned 3D models can thereafter be reproduced using 3D printers.

NorNet typically uses robots for most 3D scanning activities. So, to put the Spider to the test, they mounted it on to a robotic arm, Universal Robotic 5 (UR5). They say that they chose the UR5 because it is very easy to program and safe for people. In fact, if the robot hits something along the way, it will automatically stop.

“We scan a lot of things,” says Ben-Tommy Eriksen who is the head of NorNet. “The idea is to automate the scanning process.” Eriksen also says that they chose the Artec Spider because of the resolution. “The Spider is like no other scanner. It sees the smallest details on a wooden surface which is exactly what we need.”

It’s quite interesting that NorNet chose to use a motorcycle engine for the test. These engines have some very elaborate curves and holes. Eriksen placed the engine on a rotating platform then fixed the Spider to the UR5 in such a way that the scanner moved around the object. The robot automatically identifies areas that need to be re-scanned to avoid holes in the final model.

An elated Eriksen couldn’t stop raving about the effectiveness of the combination. “It works great!” he exclaims.

This has left us thinking that the Artec Eva too would work just well on a robot arm.

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