3D scanning technology is a technique used to scan and capture the shape of an object in a digital three-dimensional space. These scanning systems are increasingly utilized in research and development operations as it enables the recording of finer details and capture free-form shapes quickly.
3D laser scanning is suitable for measurement and inspection purposes as they enable users to get detailed data about curved and complex structures where using standard measurement methods like a touch probe would prove to be difficult.
Due to the multiple benefits of this technology, the 3D scanning market has experienced increasing implementation for aircraft maintenance and overhaul.
The adoption of 3D scanning is especially strong with the aviation MRO software market developing to aim towards increasing efficiency and automation of various maintenance and overhaul procedures.
The process of 3D scanning includes several steps including data acquisition, resulting data, modelling choices based on application, inspection by comparing with the CAD model and then reverse engineering.
Aircraft manufacturing and maintenance require extreme precision to ensure the safety of the aircraft and a smooth flying experience. Therefore, the aerospace industry became one of the early adopters of 3D laser scanning technology as it is essential for conducting ultra-precise aircraft checks that ensure aircraft are safe to fly.
3D scanning technologies allowed aerospace industry players to accomplish full exterior and interior scans of aircraft in 6-8 hours. The detailed scanning and solid modelling of every part of an aircraft, from the empennage to the nose.
Below are a few unique applications of 3D laser scanning systems:
- First and foremost, with a full and detailed scan of the aircraft, the structural integrity of an aircraft can be ensured. 3D scanning is increasingly being utilized for conducting a full scan of the interior and exterior structure and pinpointing any sort of deterioration and damage.
- A 3D scan is continuously used to determine the degree of dents caused by ‘ground incursions. Severe dents combined with constant cabin pressure can cause a fatigue crack. Such damage can be the potential reason for the fall of a plane.
- During maintenance and overhaul processes, 3D scanning is essential to confirm the integrity and proper design of the part or component to the OEM design. Obtaining Parts Manufacturer Approval from the Federal Aviation Administration is necessary and the strict criteria to meet OEM design makes 3D scanning essential to ensure the parts meet the standards.
- They are also used for detecting damage caused during hard landings. Impacts from hard nose gear can significantly affect the plane’s support structure. High strains between the forward fuselage upper crown and between the flight deck and the wing front spar can damage the fuselage structure. With an accurate scan provided by a 3D scan, such defects can easily be detected.
- 3D has enabled users in the aviation industry to create 3D illustration catalogues for every part of an aircraft, and manufacturers of aircraft are focused to create a catalogue for every aircraft which will be stored in a global cloud-based parts catalogue.