For an internal project we were tasked with creating a mirrored copy of an injection-moulded ABS bracket component, utilizing reverse engineering and 3D printing. With the resources we have available at Catesby Projects, we were able to quickly scan the component and have it printing before the end of the day!
To begin the scanning process, the part was sprayed with a self-vanishing scanning spray to temporarily matte the glossy surfaces. It was then placed on a piece of paper with several markings and added tape markers to provide additional reference points for the 3D scanner to track and to help with alignment down the line. The scanner used for this was the Artec Spider. The Artec Spider uses a structured light projector with blue light to capture detail in high resolution and high accuracy. For small detail parts, like the bracket with its various ribs, hole bosses, sink marks, undercuts and parting lines,
the Spider is ideal where it can scan with up to 0.05mm accuracy. Two scans of the part were taken, one of the top side and one of the underside, with enough overlap between scans to help with alignment. The scans were then imported into Artec studio 3D scanning software where the auto-alignment feature was used to pull both scans into a single aligned point cloud. The excess scan data of the paper background was removed, leaving just the bracket component point cloud, which was then globally registered and turned into a useable STL for processing for printing.
“For small detail parts, the Spider is ideal where it can scan with up to 0.05mm accuracy.”
With the accuracy of the Spider, we were able to capture small details of the part including the sink marks on the main flat surface, ejector pin markings, gate marks, warped areas after cooling from the injection moulding, and even the parting line across the thin edges of the bracket. In order to print the component flat on our Raise3d Pro 2 Plus print beds, we then employed Geomagic Wrap to smooth out some of the captured imperfections and to flatten the main surface to print from.
All that was left to do was to slice the part in Ideamaker slicing software, load the filament in the printer and click print! For this, we used PLA tough – a variant of PLA, a biodegradable bioplastic made from renewable sources like corn starch and sugar cane, with impact resistance properties akin to ABS. This scanning and printing of detailed parts workflow is a useful tool in the arsenal of Catesby Projects and has helped with recreating detail features like fan blades and wheel spokes across other projects.