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Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research IGD have developed a 3D scanner that can autonomously scan individual parts and print them in real time. It is designed for the automotive industry, where the device is to be used as a production assistant. The development was made in the light of the EU-funded AUTOWARE project, which aims to automate manufacturing processes in the industry.

A specific example was the assembly of a cylinder with pistons, housings, and seals. Currently, this work is still done by hand; quality control is carried out with a list on paper and using manual measurements. In the future, the 3D scanner will be used there. It examines the part placed in front of it, recognizes what it is through the use of a database for comparison purposes, and also knows which part its human colleague needs next to assemble the cylinder. Finally, the machine also performs quality control by scanning the finished cylinder and checking for dimensional accuracy.

The device of the Fraunhofer IGD could also be used in the production of spare parts for classic cars. The defective part gets glued together in a makeshift fashion, shaped, and placed in front of the scanner. The device now automatically performs multiple scans until it has enough data to reproduce and create a three-dimensional image using newly developed algorithms. With a material simulation, it tests whether a reconstruction using 3D printing meets the requirements for stability. In the final step, the replacement part is output on the 3D printer and can be installed.

The scan system of the Fraunhofer IGD will be on display at the Fraunhofer booth at the HANNOVER MESSE.