3d Scanning for Science

Though the term “scanner” evokes the idea of creating a PDF, in the manufacturing industry scanning is much more than that. A 3D scanner collects and analyzes information about appearance features of an object or environment such as shape, color, and more. 

This can be useful in a number of ways. A 3D scanner creates a digital three-dimensional representation of a physical object. These models are useful for animation and visualization, as well as for creating physical models with a 3D printer while controlling material and size. Scientists and manufacturers use 3D models to make improvements and experiment with existing objects, including durability and fitness tests. 

Using 3D models to analyze objects

With a 3D model, it is possible to conduct different types of object analysis, including dimensional, comparative, finite element and computational fluid. 

In 2016, researchers in the US and Israel used a 3D scanner to virtually unwrap a heavily damaged En-Gedi scroll without physically touching it. This allowed them to read the contents of the scroll while avoiding the risks of destroying or damaging the scroll by physically unrolling it. The researchers used a 3D scanner to create a digital model of the scroll, analyzed the bright pixels that indicated the location of the ink on the scroll, and with the help of software, virtually unrolled the scroll to make the text readable. 

They discovered that En-Gedi scroll was the earliest scroll ever found to contain one of the Pentateuchal books from the Bible. 

Using 3D models for preservation purposes

3D models are also useful for archival and preservation purposes because they record the form of an object more accurately than 2D scans or hand-made representations. For instance, biologist Adam Summers has been using 3D scanning to create detailed 3D models of fluid-preserved dead fish that he has been collecting for many years. 

Doug Boyer, an evolutionary biologist at Duke University in North Carolina, has started a digital depository of 3D renderings that are freely available for research in the fields of anatomy, developmental biology, and evolution. 

Cassandra Donatelli from Tufts University in Massachusetts has been using these 3D scanned digital models to study the joints and movements of long and slender fish to be able to design a more efficient underwater exploration robot.   

After learning about the efforts of Summers, zoologist David Blackburn from the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville obtained $2.5 million in funding and plans to scan over 20,000 specimens from several museum and university collections across the country over the next several years.  

The Smithsonian Institute has Smithsonian X 3D, which applies 3D capture methods to both objects and scientific missions. The technology allows the researchers to not only come back from the field with specimens, but also with accurate 3D data that can be preserved and studied forever. 

The Smithsonian has created a Digitization Program Office that works on increasing the quality and quantity of the Institute’s digital assets.

3D scanning for education

Because of their versatility and affordable pricing, 3D scanning and printing can be a great tool not just for scientists but also for teachers. For example, a teacher can have an object 3D scanned for educational purposes, and use a collage of images or have a model printed. He could also easily design an object for hands-on study, and once he has a CAD file ready, can easily replicate it. 

The possibility for utilizing 3D models for teachers are endless. Just like scientists use 3D models to study fish and movements when creating robots, teachers can use them while teaching any subject where models come in handy, such as physics or robotics. 

What Halo has to offer

Halo Aerospace has some of the latest equipment available on the market including 3D scanners and 3D printers, so it is possible for local Florida scientists and teachers to conduct research and experiments. For example, Halo’s state-of-the-art scanner has color ability so they can capture color maps, in addition to dimensions. 

To open a conversation with the Halo team, contact us at (561) 530-7689.

Using 3D scanning in a science class 

Halo was recently approached by a former scientist and current gifted science teacher at a local middle school. She was building a curriculum for learning with fossils and wanted to teach students about species migrations in the Paleolithic era. She brought Halo a 9-10 million-year-old fossil of the claw and toe joints of a giant ground sloth. 

For her lesson plan, she wanted her students to be able to gather fossil evidence for themselves and then debate whether species migration is good or bad. Building a lesson plan like this would normally be challenging not only because there’s one fossil for many students, but because the fossil would be irreplaceable. These are problems she solved with 3D modeling and printing.

The Halo team scanned the fossil and made several exact replicas that were easy to transport and study. In this case, the scan was used to make a print. However, a 3D scan can also be an affordable and extremely accurate way to study fossils or artifacts.


3D printing and scanning have many uses outside of a business or a manufacturing process. They can be a quick, cheap, and easily replicable way to produce models, both digital and physical, for classroom learning and even personal use.

If you have work as a teacher or at a museum, contact Halo today to learn about how 3D scanning can help you. 

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