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scan Probe scanning uses a probe to trace the contour of an object. The probe then moves on a fraction of a millimeter and records another contour. If the original sculpture was not cut into sections then the probe and the laser would not be able to scan past the wings. These are areas where other bits of sculpture are in the way and are termed "under-cuts".

The upper and lower body, front legs and wings have been probe scanned by Renishaw


render Here is a rendered image of the data collected for the upper body part.


The upper body was made by The Warwick Manufacturing Group. The scanned data of the head was turned into .stl (stereo-lithography) files by Delcam who also co-ordinated Warwick with Williamson Park and programmed computers to make the part by rapid prototyping.

The .stl files are made of tiny triangles that cover the scanned area. The smaller the triangles then the more data captured. Some of the scanning cannot capture every single point on the object but if there is the tiniest gap in the computer scan then the manufacturing process will not work. This means that gaps have to be filled manually. If your object is very detailed then this can take some time.

manufacture manufacture

The process used is a form of RP (Rapid Prototyping) called LOM -Laminated Object Manufacture. Dave operated the LOM machine, behind, to make the parts. The computer model is sliced into 0.1mm layers. A laser cuts the contour of an object on a 0.1mm layer of paper then another layer is laid down and next contour of the object is cut.

If the machine was starting from the base a standing figure then it would begin by cutting the soles of the feet , then the ankles, the knees etc. Each layer is only a tenth of a millimeter thick so it would take 500 layers to make a foot! Squares are also cut around the object so that the area not part of the sculpture is supported and can be broken away. For example, if your arms were outstretched then it would support the contours cut for these.

manufacture manufacture

The part had to be made in two halves and these were joined togeter with glue and screws by W.C.M. Pattern Making Co, Leamington Spa (01926) 426641.

Finished Part


The final section is about 50 x 50 x 60 centimetres. It is treated so that it is stable in a range of temperatures and humidities. This is so that the layers do not delaminate (come apart).

Probe Scanning Rapid Prototyping CAD CAM design


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