We all know about the widespread use of 3D scanners in almost all industrial, medical, and commercial sectors but also in art, architecture, and various other fields. These devices have brought about a revolution in the way we create, design, and replicate objects with high precision.
But it seems nothing is without its drawbacks. As soon as something new and advanced comes into play, we are then confronted with questions and concerns regarding the potential hazards it may bring. Cell phones will give you brain tumors and microwaves will give you cancer, or so they say. As for 3D scanners, many have raised concerns about the safety and potential dangers associated with their use. Are they safe for use? Can they pose a threat to the user or the surrounding environment? Are they 100% reliable and risk-free? Let’s take a closer look at these questions and analyze the potential dangers associated with 3D scanners.
Concerns About 3D Scanning
Today, there’s a lot of talk about 3D scanners and their role in the industrial and healthcare sectors. Employing 3D scanning so saves a lot of time, and money and ensures things are made accurately with less manual work. A big part of this digital shift is thanks to 3D scanning technology. 3D scanning allows objects to be replicated in great detail and with minimal effort. Avoid the following:
When scanning an object from multiple sides, you’re essentially creating separate digital “pictures” of it. These pictures then need to be combined or “stitched together” to form a complete 3D image. If this process isn’t done correctly, you’ll end up seeing overlapping images, known as “doubling”. It’s like trying to fit mismatched puzzle pieces together. It’s crucial to align scans properly, ensuring accuracy, and preventing doubling. If this happens, it’s a sign that the alignment needs correction or the scan might need redoing.
We place our long-range 3D scanner on a tripod for stability. It will collect data as it rotates around the object. When done, the software combines all this to form a 3D model. However, if there’s any movement during scanning, it can cause errors in the final model. This is known as “spiralling”. Often, this can happen when unintentional foot traffic or wind vibrates the tripod and causes it to move. To avoid this, ensure the scanner is placed on a stable surface and there’s minimal foot traffic or movement in the surrounding area.
If, in the resulting scan, you see what appears to be a break or gap, it’s a clear indication that there’s an issue with the scanner’s calibration. This break could look like a chasm opening up from the scan’s point of origin. When this occurs, the scanner likely needs to be sent back to the manufacturer for recalibration or repair to ensure accurate results in the future.
Can’t Stand The Heat
3D scanners are machines and machines don’t fare well in extreme temperatures. High levels of heat can cause it to malfunction or shut down. An onboard cooling fan helps, but in extreme conditions, it might not be enough. It’s essential to avoid direct sunlight and to let the scanner cool down if it gets too hot. Placing it in a shaded or air-conditioned area can prolong its lifespan and ensure consistent performance.
Out Of Battery
A scanner without power is a stalled project. While most scanners come equipped with batteries, they do run out. If you’re in the middle of a scan and the battery dies, that scan is lost. It’s always recommended to carry spare, fully charged batteries and ensure that the scanner’s charger is efficient. This way, there’s minimal downtime, and scanning can continue smoothly.
Yanking out a memory card while the scanner is still writing data to it? That’s a sure way to lose our work. We always need to wait for the scanner to finish saving before we remove the memory card. Also, make sure to use high-quality memory cards with enough storage capacity for the size of scans you’re doing.
Just like glasses or camera lenses, a scanner’s lens needs to be clean to function correctly. Dust, dirt, or smudges can distort the scan, resulting in unclear images. Regularly cleaning the lenses and mirrors ensures accurate and high-quality scans. Using a soft cloth and an appropriate cleaning solution will keep the scanner’s optics in top condition.
When setting up a scanner in an industrial environment, it’s crucial to position it where it’s visible and safe. A scanner set up in a blind spot risks being knocked over, especially in busy areas with machinery like forklifts. Such accidents can lead to expensive damages or even total loss of the equipment. Always choose a safe, visible spot, and consider using safety cones or barriers as added precautions.
Tripods are designed to keep the scanner steady, but on some surfaces, like wet concrete, they can slip. Metal spikes on the tripod legs can slide, affecting the scan’s stability. Using stabilizing accessories, like rubber pads or specialized grips, can prevent this movement, ensuring that the scanner remains firmly in place during the entire scan process.
Resolution determines the level of detail in a scan. If set too low, you miss finer details. If set too high, scanning takes longer than necessary and uses up more storage space. It’s essential to choose the right resolution for each specific scanning project, ensuring a balance between detail and efficiency.
Potential Dangers of 3D Scanners
With any new technology, there are always concerns regarding its safety. While 3D scanners may not seem dangerous at first glance, there are potential risks associated with their use. Some of the main concerns include exposure to radiation, eye damage, and data privacy.
One of the main safety concerns associated with 3D scanners is radiation exposure. Some 3D scanning techniques use lasers or X-rays, which can emit harmful radiation levels if not properly calibrated or misused. That’s why one of the initial questions being asked before going on an X-ray is if the person is pregnant. Exposure to high levels of radiation can cause genetic mutations and increase the risk of cancer.
Another concern is eye damage due to prolonged exposure to laser beams used in some 3D scanning techniques. Seeing a red light from a scanner isn’t harmful by itself. What matters is the power of the beam. handheld scanners on counters are usually weak. That’s why items need to be very close to the scanner to be detected.
However, some handheld scanners, especially in big warehouses, are powerful. They can read barcodes from far away, even 50 feet or more. These come with warnings because they can be harmful to the eyes. People using these are trained to handle them safely.
In addition to physical dangers, there are also concerns regarding data privacy with the use of 3D scanners most especially in healthcare and biometrics. 3D scanners can capture highly sensitive and personal information, including facial features, fingerprints and DNA. If this data falls into the wrong hands, it can be exploited for malicious purposes like identity theft or tracking an individual’s movements without their consent.
To protect the privacy and security of 3D scanning data, it is essential to use secure networks and encrypted storage methods. Additionally, setting strict access control measures and adhering to data protection regulations can help mitigate the risks associated with data privacy.
Legal and Ethical Implications
Another risk of using 3D scanners is the potential for legal and ethical issues. In the case of 3D scanning, there have been instances where individuals or companies have used it to replicate copyrighted objects or steal intellectual property. This raises questions about ownership rights and copyright laws.
To consider the ethical and legal implications of 3D scanning, you should consult with the relevant stakeholders and experts, such as lawyers and ethical committees. Follow the codes of conduct and regulations set by governing bodies to avoid any legal implications.
The Verdict: Are 3D Scanners Dangerous?
Overall, 3D scanners themselves are not inherently dangerous. Their risks of dangers typically fall on user error or misuse, rather than health hazards posed by the technology itself. By following proper safety precautions, regularly maintaining and calibrating the equipment, and being mindful of potential risks, 3D scanners can be used safely and effectively in various industries.
However, like any tool or technology, it is essential to understand and mitigate potential dangers associated with 3D scanning to ensure safe and responsible use. With proper