Lead Forensics

How To Detect Manufacturing Defects With 3D Scanning

Sep 22, 2023 | 3D Scanning, Industry, Manufacturing, Metrology, Quality & Inspection

Producing perfect parts in manufacturing industries can be as much an art as a science. Defects can arise at any stage of the production process, and numerous unpredictable factors can impact tooling precision, resulting in imperfections and non-compliance with technical requirements.

These deviations necessitate adjustments and iterations to align the tooling with quality standards and customer expectations. Quality control plays a critical role in achieving this goal while minimizing inspection time and the costs associated with rejected parts.

Here we explore the manufacturing challenges that often lead to product defects and show how 3D scanning technology can help to revolutionise the quality inspection processes in manufacturing businesses.

Real World Manufacturing

The reality of the industrial environment often means that during production, numerous unforeseeable phenomena may come into play, disrupting the expected, repeatable path from mould to final product.

For instance, factors like spring-back during stamping, shrinkage when constructing composite material moulds, or thermal forces during welding can significantly impact tooling accuracy. These factors make it impossible to 100% predict the final outcome before the actual parts are produced.

Initial tooling is designed and manufactured to meet specific technical requirements. However, the factors above can interfere with the moulded or stamped parts, resulting in non-conformity with specifications, and a requirement for parts to be adjusted or corrected to pass quality inspections.

Defect Classification

Defects in manufacturing can be categorised into four main groups:

  • Manufacturing defects (parts not conforming to specification)
  • Assembly defects (parts not assembled correctly)
  • Defects related to the raw material (e.g., incorrect steel type causing spring-back, poor surface finish)
  • Defects related to wear and tear of parts or components (e.g., deteriorating moulds)

3D Scanning – The Ideal Solution for Minimising Manufacturing Defects

To cope with such occurrences quality control processes are often initiated. This entails measuring a manufactured part, and analysing discrepancies between the part and the original CAD model / technical drawing used to produce the part. If variations are detected, corresponding adjustments are made to the mould, die, or jig to eliminate the discrepancies.

The manufacturing process is then restarted to produce a new part, and this production – test – adjust cycle continues until a desired part is achieved.

Such iterative quality control processes demand rapid measurement equipment that can swiftly provide comprehensive dimensional information, enabling the immediate production of the next part.

The measurement tool should also be portable, allowing parts to be measured directly on the shop floor, eliminating the need to transport them to a coordinate measuring machine (CMM) and saving precious time.

3D scanning technology, provides the speed, portability, and versatility to satisfy these prerequisites. It enables parts to be comprehensively inspected, especially those falling under the first and second defect categories.

Moreover, 3D scanners reduce the reliance on visual inspections and manual tools, thus minimising human errors. They are invaluable in monitoring the wear and tear of parts, enabling timely replacements when necessary.

The Benefits of 3D Scanning: Improved Part Quality and Efficient Inspection

More Effective Inspection: With 3D scanning, the quality team can promptly intervene and identify the root causes by rapidly acquiring extensive data and conducting investigations directly on the shop floor.

Increased Inspection Capacity: Thanks to its speed and data acquisition capabilities, 3D scanning technology surpasses traditional CMMs. It can measure more parts and inspect more features with higher detail, empowering managers to make informed decisions for optimising manufacturing processes. Additionally, by conducting measurements on the production floor, the process saves valuable time that can be redirected towards inspecting even more parts.

Optimised Iteration Process with Reverse Engineering: Once tooling is certified to produce parts meeting technical requirements, it can be scanned for reverse engineering. Instead of relying on nominal models for subsequent manufacturing processes, the tooling can be recreated from the model that consistently produces parts within inspection standards. This optimisation streamlines the initial iteration process for future productions.


Even the best manufacturing companies can experience the emergence of product defects resulting from the manufacturing process. 3D scanning can be an indispensable tool to swiftly detect and rectify these defects, thanks to its speed, portability, and adaptability. It not only complements traditional CMMs but also enables quality inspections to be undertaken more quickly, ultimately leading to better part quality.

In summary, 3D scanning equipment can help by providing comprehensive information which enhances the efficiency of quality inspections. This allows manufacturers to optimise inspection time, reducing production costs, and helping deliver higher-quality parts that meet required specifications and standards.

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The PES Scanning blog provides information and news on the scanning and engineering services we offer. The blog also includes views from our team and information about projects we’ve been working on.