Geo Week News

February 12, 2016

The US Army Developed an Ingenious 3D Solution for Quality Control

Scanning a Coast Guard boat, Source: WAAY TV

The US Army asks, How does one get a three-dimensional measurement of a helicopter quickly and accurately? If you’re a regular reader of this website, you know the answer that they settled on: 3D-imaging technology.

The Weapons Development and Integration center of the Army includes the Directorate Metrology team, which incorporates 3D scanning systems to capture objects for reverse-engineering and, in this case, quality control.

Scanning at Two Scales
Their approach involves a clever mix of large-scale 3D imaging and more precise metrology work.

“We use photogrammetry and 3D scanning as two independent measurement technologies,” says Andrew Hall, AMRDEC WDI photographic metrology technician. “The structured light system is great for high detail scanning and the photogrammetry keeps the scan data accurate over large projects.”

Large Scale
The biggest breakthrough is the technology the team developed for change-detection on the large scale. As far as this reporter can gather, they use photogrammetry for project control by aligning the scans over the course of the scanning work. For the individual scans, they used structured-light scanners—which cover a much larger area than the structured light scanners we’re used to.

Together, these technologies help the team to perform quality control on newly manufactured equipment by identifying flaws. “We will scan the item and then we will compare it to its computer model and basically tell them where it’s bad or where it’s good,” metrology team lead Benjamin Thomason explained.

“The problem has always been how do we take accurate measurements, really fine detailed measurements of items, but do that over a large scale? So this is a top of the line system in the industry right now that allows us to do that,” Thomason said.

Army Scan Small

Small Scale
The small-scale scans play a vital part as well. These scanners enable soldiers to print 3D print much-needed parts when manufacturing facilities are unavailable. ”If there is a problem getting a part to the warfighter in theater because it is no longer manufactured, we can 3-D scan the part, reverse engineer a CAD package, manufacture the part, and deliver it to the men and women on the ground,” says Thomason.

Testing it Out
The team from AMRDEC is is using their solutions to scan a 41-foot long Coast Guard Utility both at their test facility in mid-February.

“It will take us about two weeks to scan and obtain the interior and exterior data of the boat. Once we are finished, we will have a full model of the boat including any defects that may not be noticeable to the natural eye,” Thomason said.

See WAAY TV for a video of the team scanning a part of the boat.

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