Laser scanning is technique used to control deflected laser beams that are applied on some 3-D printers, in machines for material processing, in rapid prototyping, in laser printers and many other applications. Laser scanning also involves controlled steering of laser beams followed by a measurement of distance at every pointing direction to rapidly capture objects, landscapes and buildings. Laser scanning is therefore powerful tool that has changed technologies especially in the following ways:
1. 3D object scanning
Is a form of technology that helps in analysis of real-word objects by collecting data on its attributes such as shape and color. According to Wikipedia , after collecting such data, 3D scanner technology constructs digital three dimension models. The devices are therefore helpful to entertainment industry in production of video games and movies. Other application of this technology include reverse engineering, prototyping, industrial design and orthotics.
For instance, the picture below shows a lidar scanner that scans rock formations, buildings and measure distances of objects located on its path for engineering and construction purposes.
2. Material Processing
Laser beams have the ability to process material based on their powers. For instance, laser beams with lower power values are applied in laser ablation and laser engraving which involves partial removing of materials. High power laser beams changes material into fluid and can therefore be applied in welding. Laser cutting is also applied in situations where laser powers are enough to remove materials. There are even modern lasers that can cut steel blocks of 10cm thick.
Other material processing application is where laser beam technologies have the ability to harden liquid polymers. All these technology is achieved through a software that runs in a computer or embedded system and control by scanner card. The card works by converting received data signal to movement instructions that are sent to scan head. The can head is designed with two mirrors that deflects laser beams in one level (X and Y). The third dimension is achieved through an optic that moves the laser’s focal point in the depth direction (Z).
For high material throughput or enhanced laser scanning during production, a scanning system with more than one scan head is used.
3. Barcode readers
Laser scanning has changed technology in business especially by introducing barcode readers. Barcode readers as special gadgets that have ability to read special codes that are used to uniquely identify items. The kind of technology in these devices works by scanning a semiconductor laser beam with a resonant mirror scanner which is driven electromagnetically.
Barcode readers are claimed to be the new face of retailing as an article by New York Times shows. It is now easy for supermarkets to check their stock and speed up grocery checkout line with these form of technology.