What Component Digitization Options Do I Have, Purchase a scanner or hire a scanning service?

Component Digitization
What Component Digitization Options Do I Have, Purchase a scanner or hire a scanning service?

The start from scratch or procure question is asked by most businesses that need to digitize parts. Do I buy part scanning equipment and educate my employees, or do I look for a reliable service provider? Are there any other unmentioned options in between? 

The solution is a mix of all three options. Bringing on as a vendor or employee, using subcontractors, in-house service centers, and outsourcing services are all options. Companies may have their part scanning needs to be fulfilled on an ongoing and reliable basis, whether in-house or outsourced.

We mean digitizing parts by scanning/probing them to create a point cloud, STL file, or voxel data set, and then doing something with it. Evaluation or comparing work, code-breaking, CAD model building, or something else could be that product.

You’ll learn how to use current scanners and digital cameras to scan and digitize objects. You may study the data, compare it to other models, make 3D CAD models from it, and alter it in a variety of ways once it’s in digital format. It’s a fantastic tool that can save you hours of time and provide greater accuracy than manual techniques.

Understanding a customer’s Make/Buy decision process is critical to ensure that you can assist them in achieving their objectives. In the service industry, we’ve discovered that several of our long-term customers have gradually learned the program and then acquired the equipment. They really utilize our service fees as part of the justification for purchasing the necessary equipment, software, and training to “Make” this capability for themselves.

I’ve seen that as a company, we rarely lose one of these consumers. They generally return to us when their capacity is exceeded, they require new employee training, or they do not yet own a technology that we already own and are specialists in. We cater to this by giving them what they require when they require it. We have a large team of degreed engineers who are passionate about metrology.

Examining the Alternatives

Here are a few options to think about. Wherever possible, we’ve provided estimates on costs and timelines. These are based on options that we’ve seen a variety of our customers use over the last past decade. 

Purchase equipment, software, and training right now so you can do this work on your own.


  • Complete control over the process from start to finish. 
  • You’ll have a thorough understanding of the execution process from start to finish.

On the other hand, the disadvantages would include: 

Training New-Hires 

As they become more familiar with the equipment and software, newly trained workers can be significantly slower. When compared to a service provider who does this type of work every day and every day, there is a significant difference. This is a must-have if you have long-term and high-volume needs, and you pay to obtain the experience. 

We’ve discovered that if we train engineering interns (very skilled and clever individuals) in one piece of equipment for a month straight, they become rather excellent.

Acquire the analytic software and have the raw data provided by a third party.


  • You have complete control over how the data is handled. You know exactly what you need from the data and are masters of every detail. Often, you may direct your data extraction efforts precisely where they are needed.
  • Experts who utilize the equipment on a daily basis are in charge of data collecting. You can trust that your information will be collected on time and by professionals that care about it.
  • Flexibility and Movement: Allow the service provider to travel to remote locations with portable equipment to collect data while your employees remain at home and focused on other tasks.

By having our mobility team come to your workers with portable equipment to gather information, you may save time and money on travel. They’ll gather at their workstation, collect the data, and then return to their remote location.

  • Capital expense reduction: The software is always inferior to the physical equipment. The equipment must be calibrated and maintained on a regular basis. This entails additional costs for labor and supplies, as well as the maintenance and calibration of hardware devices deployed at the plant, and finally, the repair of broken instruments.


  • The cost of the software is high with Installation and configuration expenditures, as well as system maintenance costs, ranging from $19k to $32k.
  • This software is an excellent purchase for anyone wishing to make a long-term investment in a high-quality item. However, training costs roughly $11,000.
  • Cost of experience: The employees will need to devote time to learning how to operate the program, which will be used frequently. If your needs are only once a month or fewer, you’ll have to train them every other month. Consistent use of the software for a reasonable amount of time will ingrain it and allow for less frequent use. Customers fear using software because the one single trained expert utilizes it so infrequently that he loses faith in it.
  • The average annual software maintenance costs are typically 10-15 percent of the original software cost. 
  • You can’t undertake troubleshooting at your leisure if you only have the program and no equipment. This type of equipment is ideal for factory troubleshooting, and having it on hand can be really beneficial at times.

Purchase the equipment and hire out the data analysis and modeling.


  • Complete control over the scan quality: You have complete control over every aspect of your scanning environment, including the ability to develop custom workflows, streamline operations, and optimize your workflow to meet the demands of your company.
  • Extensive data gathering and analysis to guarantee that just the data you want is acquired in the correct manner and at the appropriate time. We work closely with your brand identity and company goals to discover information gaps and gather data to support your most essential operations.
  • Outsourcing data analysis to experts that alter data and construct models from this specific type of data on a daily basis is far more efficient than doing so in-house.
  • Carrying costs for assets such as electricity and gas can be substantial and difficult to forecast. Maintenance costs are typically 10-15% of the initial equipment cost, therefore including these additional costs in your projection can help you make more informed financial decisions. We can help you save money on equipment by decreasing maintenance, calibration, and downtime. By avoiding these expenses, you may be able to improve your other metrics.


  • It’s expensive with the first investment ranging from  $60-$100,000.
  • You may collect data in an inefficient manner, necessitating numerous retakes. Some clients collect data on items that are later shipped out, only to discover later that they made an error in the collecting process, rendering the data useless for what they really want. When you ask us to use your data, we provide a quote based on the data’s current state. If there is a lot of ‘clean-up,’ you will have to pay more. If the information you require isn’t available, we won’t be able to provide a price.

All data gathering, processing, and/or CAD modeling should be outsourced.


  • There are no charges for equipment, software, or training.
  • There are no recurring charges (maintenance) for the above.
  • The most up-to-date technology, equipment, and software are now at your fingertips thanks to a service provider who must stay on top of everything. This is in contrast to purchasing a depreciating asset that may or may not suit all of your requirements.
  • Data is collected, processed, and CAD models are created by experts. You maintain a laser-like focus on your core business competencies.
  • The time of your employees is unaffected. You maintain a laser-like focus on your core business competencies.


You must have confidence in your service provider’s ability to acquire accurate data and develop acceptable CAD data (parametric data using your preferred CAD package or NURBs data or STP, IGES, or Parasolid data)

You’ll need to pick a service provider with enough capacity to not stifle your operations or prevent you from receiving your final data (reports or CAD models). Small businesses, including those run by a single person, aren’t bad but they’re limited in resources. If you are not their most important customer, you may be overlooked or assigned late delivery date.

Recommendations from Us

We are definitely predisposed in favor of using service providers, and 3DES fits all of the above criteria. However, we’ve noticed over the years that customers who eventually buy their own equipment use our service first to familiarize themselves with the methodologies and deliverables.

Then they’ll either buy the program first and then learn how to use it, or they’ll buy both equipment and software at the same time. We also notice that within a few years, the two individuals who were first trained leave the organization for various reasons, necessitating the training of new workers. This is not an issue if you have good and long-serving personnel. You might notice this if your company goes through expansion and contraction cycles.

The cost of equipment and software is typically 10-15% of the initial cost. 

You now have a new tool at your disposal when you buy your own scanning equipment. You can utilize it for other tasks, or you may discover that it is in such high demand that you must continue to outsource scanning. Customers who possess specific types of equipment and utilize it so extensively for production that their engineers can’t get enough time with it to troubleshoot production or product difficulties have also contacted us.

First, have an experienced service provider estimate the amount of work required over a period of time. Use the cost data to justify purchases for yourself or to keep the service provider you have. We’ve visited a number of clients who own comparable or identical equipment that has been consigned to a ‘closet’ due to minimal usage and then isn’t used since the experience base has dwindled.

Please contact us for a free project quote as you investigate some of the alternatives listed above!


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