As application engineers at Creaform, we were invited to take part in an interesting mandate in the United Kingdom, more precisely at the Birchwood head office of ESR Technology near Warrington.

HOIS is an international joint industry project between oil & gas companies and their inspection vendors. HOIS aims to be the prime industry forum for discussing inspection issues and developing and exploiting new or improved inspection technology. Thus, we were there to evaluate the Creaform technology as part of a specific project.

The project

The project consisted in finding more effective methods and equipment to improve the inspection of corrosion found inside a specific vessel. The cylindrical pressure vessel was 2 m (about 6.5ft) in diameter and almost 6 m (about 19.4ft) long. Substantial corrosion had accumulated inside during its years of service. The corrosion was covering almost the entire inferior half. We suggested using the Pipecheck solution along with Creaform 3D scanning technology, to benefit from the Pipecheck expertise in oil & gas Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) applications.

A project about measuing corrosion in a cylindrical vessel

The challenges

There were several challenges: first, the confined space, and the higher risks associated with it. Second, a large area to inspect, with corrosion spread throughout the entire surface instead of being localized. To carry on the task, we planned 2 days, in case we encounter unexpected situations.

Since security is always the first priority, prior to the travel we had gone through training about confined spaces, to be aware of the dangers related to this type of work, and to learn about taking appropriate measures to minimize the risks. While working, we also wore all the required personal protection equipment, from steel toe boots to a hard hat!

The work was conducted with the Creaform Pipecheck solution and the Handyscan 3D scanner. Thanks to the unique Creaform TRUaccuracy technology, we were able to accurately scan the entire inferior surface even with the vibrations generated by moving inside the tank.

Using the MaxSHOT 3D additionally enabled us to increase the volumetric accuracy of the Handyscan 3D over large parts. This optional procedure is only required to measure geometrical deformations with very high accuracy on a large object.

Corrosion measurement project conducted with the Creaform Pipecheck solution and the Handyscan 3D scanner

The execution

We started the work by placing the positioning targets to cover the corroded area, then placed the coded targets required by the MaxSHOT 3D. Using the feedback of the VXelements VXshot module, we captured various shots with the MaxSHOT 3D from different point of views and obtained a highly accurate 3D model of the positioning targets. With that 3D model acquired, we were ready to scan.

At this stage the rugged field pack was very handy! Instead of bringing all the equipment (computer, power supply, mouse, etc.) inside the pressure vessel, we only went in with the Handyscan 3D and the wireless tablet, each with their own magnetic stands. We performed the scan with a 1mm resolution, in 16 different sessions. After the scan was completed, we used Pipecheck to merge all sessions into one larger scan, making it possible to analyse the various sections altogether. Pipecheck automatically measured material loss depth over the entire surface, checked the proximity between corrosion for interaction and evaluated burst pressure (code complying with ASME B31G), all in one click. The generation of a complete Excel report was just another click away.

In the end, since no unexpected situations occurred and there were still some time left, we were able to cover more than twice the surface required. The required area would have been done within a single day… Whereas with the traditional pit gauge method, just the 1-inch gridding would have taken at least a day, after which the deepest point in all of the 43 000 squares would have had to be found and manually measured! And after that, another lengthy step: the complex analysis of applying the interaction rule, finding the worst case profile of the depth for each corroded area and calculating burst pressure.

In conclusion, the Pipecheck solution proved to be a huge improvement over other traditional Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) techniques such as the pit gauge for corrosion inspection on pressurized components. It can drastically reduce the inspection time with highly repeatable and accurate results (50 microns).

We were glad to have the right tools for the job, and to be able to do it well and as quickly as possible, because as much as we appreciate the experience of working in confined spaces, the less time spend in the pressure vessel, the better!

To learn more about Pipecheck , the software platform addressing both corrosion and mechanical damage assessment, you can visit Pipecheck’s product page.

Corrosion 3D Model - Creaform's Pipecheck Software

Validating CAD Files for Aerospace Parts

By: Hubert Krempa, Metrologist

In: 3D Scanning Projects| Aerospace

5 Mar 2014

An important player in the Aerospace industry had a pressing need to validate CAD files for a wide range of parts, and decided to borrow our expertise for the job. We accepted without hesitation; we’re always ready to take on new challenges!

The project

This project consisted of parts that were originally only defined as 2D files, and wanted to migrate them to CAD files. There were 2 types of CAD files to validate for each part. The first file type, or set, consisted of older IGES files, and raised a certain number of questions. The second file set, in CATPart, was more recent, but the customer was unable to validate these files. The decision we made was to use the physical parts as a reference, since these had been in production for a while and were considered compliant in every way. In short, the parts were the reference, and the CAD files had to be validated against them.

We chose to use the MetraSCAN in order to obtain a 3D image of each part, and to compare this image with the 2 associated CAD files. Since our laser camera was so fast, we were able to scan a considerable number of parts in a fraction of the time the customer would have needed to do the same work on their CMM. And to make the task even easier, our VXElements software entirely took care of the post-processing and provided .stl files, ready to be aligned and compared to the CAD files. Two reports for each part were then generated and delivered to the customer. The first report contained the results stemming from the comparison between the scan and the IGES file, while the second compared the scan and the CATPart file. From there, the customer could start their own results analysis. The following images respectively show a scan and the comparison results for the same part.

Aerospace part CAD validation by Creaform

This mandate presented several interesting challenges, which we were able to meet successfully

1)      The customer wanted us at their premises, in order to define the project and ensure that the information would be transferred in-person. We learned on the Friday afternoon that we needed to be in Halifax on Monday, with all our equipment and expertise. This required a considerable planning effort in a very short time!

2)      Once we arrived there, we realized how much work actually had to get done. We discussed with the customer to find an appropriate, fast method for validating all these parts. After a few days in Halifax, the customer trusted us enough to ship the parts to our Montreal office, so we could dedicate a whole team of application specialists to the project, in order to speed things up.

3)      Where there’s teamwork, there has to be proper organization. We needed to complete this mandate in a short period of time, which enabled us to practice our teamwork skills and come up with a procedure that could help us meet the planned deadlines. We split the overall task in several sub-tasks, each with a specific owner, and created a project spreadsheet to efficiently monitor the project completion rate.

The different mandates Creaform completes at a national and international level definitely are learning experiences, enabling our employees to develop increasingly stronger expertise. As from the customer perspective, they know that they can count on us to successfully handle any of their projects, big or small, wherever they are in the world!

To learn more about Creaform’s services, you can visit the 3D Engineering Services page.

A world of challenges – The Creaform customers speak a common language

By: Mathieu Desmarais, Applications Specialist, Creaform Metrology Services

In: 3D Hardware| 3D Scanning Projects| 3D Technologies| Oil & Gas| Power Generation| Travel

20 Feb 2014

Recently I was given the opportunity to work for a few of our customers in Europe for a few months, based from our Grenoble office in France. I jumped on the opportunity, feeling that this new assignment would be filled with amazing experiences. From then on, everything went so fast: the first thing I knew, I was on the plane, ready for the new challenges that would arise.

Yet at that point I had not yet envisioned how special this trip would be.  As an Application Specialist working at the Creaform HQ, I mostly travel to the USA and Canada, thus I am used to hopping on planes and I work primarily in English. But in Europe, I was about to visit 5 different countries in 8 weeks, each with their own language, which certainly would be a challenge. However, the major surprise in this multicultural environment was definitely finding out that English was merely a way of expressing the words of a much deeper common “language”: that of the Creaform technologies and metrology principles.

MetraSCAN and MMT, a known solution

As part of every project I would cover in Europe, I would find out how much our customers knew about our technologies and their benefits. TRUaccuracy was a must in the projects I completed in Slovakia, South Africa and Italy, since they were done on shop floors near working machines. TRUportability was also a definitive advantage, since the parts to measure were huge. That was a good thing for me as well, since it was way easier to bring myself as well as the equipment to South Africa than to bring the turbine casing to Europe! Customers knew about that, and because they were so knowledgeable, we were easily able to communicate in that common language, even if some people were struggling in English.

Siemens Turbine Casing 3D Scan by Creaform

Project in South Africa

Different countries, same challenges

My first project as an expat was in eastern Slovakia, for a major power generation company. I had to gather all the data required to recreate two sets of gas turbine blades, including the driving shaft. The challenges there were quite the same ones we face in North America: accuracy, speed, space constraints… When I arrived there, I found out that I had to do my job in a single day, instead of the expected two. Well, thanks to fast and accurate scanning of the MetraSCAN 210, I got it covered in about 16 hours.

Gas Turbine Blades 3D Scan by Creaform

Project in Slovakia

Different people, same reactions

While in Europe, I found that the customers’ reactions to our technologies were very similar to the ones we get in North America. Other than being amazed by the live, fast rendering of 3D scans, I specifically remember the reaction of a customer in Italy. When he asked me where the parts needed to be placed for scanning, I simply told him that he could leave them there on the shop floor. He was surprised and impressed that the Handyscan 3D was so versatile. A definite time saver!

Europe was also an amazing place to learn about different ways of living, since there are so many countries and distinct cultures. It even made me reconsider some of my own ways, as I shared my working habits with others. That is the essence of travelling: understanding that some very trivial parts of your daily routine are peculiar and wonderful to others, and vice-versa! Still, one thing doesn’t change: anywhere we go in the world, we find that people are curious and captivated by our technologies. At Creaform, travelling and meeting with customers constantly remind us that the products we use every day are indeed really impressive and powerful.

To learn more about the scanners used in these projects, you can visit the Handyscan 3D and MetraSCAN 3D product pages.

March of 2012, one of our clients from the mining industry asked Creaform to execute the dimensional inspection of the track links on a power shovel located in Fermont, in northern Québec.

Photo 3_Web

Well, that should be interesting for the metrologist that I am that does not travel on a regular basis!

Day 1 – Travelling up north

The client and I take off from the Jean-Lesage Airport in Quebec City to get to the city of Wabush in Labrador, about 40 minutes away from Fermont. We are flying in a small 12-passenger airplane, which flight attendant is also the co-pilot! Once landed in Fermont, I’m off to the mine to get my safety training. In Fermont, many people rent rooms in their house to accommodate workers from outside of town, and I end up in a room rented by a family of 4 kids – no need for a wake-up call there!!

Day 2 – Probe-inspecting right next to the highway (or so it seemed!)

I’m at work, on the mine premises. The washing area is right next to the room I have to work in. Dump trucks go in and out all the time. These trucks are about 34 feet long, they weight about 420 tons and they drink about 800 liters of fuel per hour! They are heavy and loud like you don’t imagine, but I have to probe brand new track lines despite the high level of vibrations that is going on…

Photo #2_Web

That being said, I’m not worried in the least for the measurement accuracy and data quality though. After all, I’m using our HandyPROBE portable coordinate measurement machine! Thanks to the TRUaccuracy technology, it is insensitive to changes in the environment like vibrations, part displacement, set-up or CMM instability. I have been working with the HandyPROBE for some time now, so I know the system well. Add to that the fact that the CMM itself works really quickly, and the inspection process is going like a hot knife through butter. I manage to probe all of the track lines by the end of my work day.

Photo #1_Web

Tomorrow, I have to probe a set of used track lines, and I’ll be done with this project.

Day 3

The used track lines have not been disassembled from the power shovel yet, and they are not ready to be inspected. Looks like I will have time for some sightseeing!

Day 4 

The set of used track lines are not available yet. :( I must wait another day. Luckily for me, my client invites me to join him in his work day. I end up helping him with the surveying of bridges on an old power shovel.

Photo #4_Web

Day 5

I get the parts shortly after noon, which gives me enough time to complete the inspection before the end of the day.

Overall, the inspection process with the HandyPROBE went very smoothly. Whether on the new or used sets of track lines, the HandyPROBE and the C-Track dual camera sensor were very efficient at taking accurate measurements and reflect the as-is state of the parts.

In my current job as an applications specialist with Creaform, I’ve been asked to scan, inspect and reverse engineer a lot of very different mechanical parts, using any and all devices in the range of 3D measurement solutions manufactured by Creaform. Some scan jobs can take place in harsh conditions and be really physically demanding.  However, some other projects can be, let’s say … more entertaining than others! In both cases, I always love my job, but can’t help but envy some of my colleagues when they get an exciting project.

That was the case when a friend of mine got assigned the task of 3D scanning the face of a famous TV show host with our Go!SCAN 3D white light 3D scanner in order to create a customized bubble head doll. It did sound like a fun project, but more importantly, the host was Jenn Barlow!!!

Jenn Barlow 5_Web

Jenn Barlow is an automotive industry expert and self-proclaimed tech-lover. She currently hosts and produces the Emmy-nominated and nationally airing television show BOYS TOYS on Wealth TV, where she gets to travel around the globe to find the coolest toys for big boys. From exotics cars to unbelievable aircrafts and even the newest guy gadgets, Jenn seeks out which machines are unique to the consumer market and worthy of your hard-earned money.

Even though I didn’t get the chance to meet her and scan her lovely face, I had to make a customized bubble head doll from the 3D scan file. Thanks to the Go!SCAN 3D, the acquisition process is very easy and fast, and the model doesn’t have to stand still for too long… even if I know that my colleague would not have minded in this particular case! ;)

OK, back to the project: I had to create a model that could be printed using a polymer 3D printer. So I simply took the mesh output (.stl file) from the Go!SCAN 3D and merged it to an existing bubble head mesh model. Then, I modified it to add the internal geometry which will allow the head to be supported by the doll’s body.

Jenn Barlow 2_WebJenn Barlow 6_Web

Finally, another of my colleague used Pixologic’s Zbrush software in order to add color to the doll. By using some pictures taken after the scanning process, Zbrush can create a color model which will be used by the 3D printer. The printer then colors the polymer powder used on the outside of the model to match the desired image…in this case a very pretty image! ;-)

Jenn Barlow 9_Web

Monday June 3rd, 8:00 in the morning. The weather is incredibly cold and foggy for springtime. Welcome to Scotland, a few miles north of the city of Aberdeen. Martin, our contact onsite, warmly welcomes us: “In this area, the summer lasts only 2 days! You’re lucky to see the sun guys!”. Great. At least, we’ve been warned…

We’re facing a huge and impressive structure in the rising sun. Inside of it, a maze of dozens of pipes and scaffoldings, gathering gas from many offshores platforms in the North Sea. Looks like we have our work cut out for us!

Scanning an outdoor pipe with a Handyscan 3D scanner and Pipecheck

Corrosion: the enemy to track down

The main problem the oil & gas industry is facing is corrosion, as pipes exposed to harsh underwater, underground conditions or outdoors weather can degrade very quickly. Since these pipelines convey valuable and/or dangerous liquids, they need to be controlled on a regular basis, and replaced if needed. This is exactly why the pipeline owner had us flew in to Scotland that day: to assess corrosion levels on the pipes with Pipecheck, Creaform’s 3D scanning solution for pipeline damage assessment, comprised of a Handyscan 3D scanner and the Pipecheck pipeline integrity assessment software.

Creaform’s Field Pack: 3D scanning without any electrical power source

The project consisted of assessing through 3D scanning the level of pipe corrosion of several pipelines that seemed pretty damaged. The 1st one to be inspected was easy to scan, as it was located on the ground. We simply put targets on it and quickly got a clean scan of the pipe. Things got complicated though when we had to climb 3 floors on the scaffoldings to reach the next pipes.

This is the kind of situations when our Field Pack becomes a great help. Its 8-hour battery autonomy makes it possible for us to scan almost anywhere – which turns out pretty useful when the next power outlet is 3 floors down!

Field Pack

On-site 3D Scanning results

Once all the scans were done, we were able to present the customer with his colormaps and inspection reports, right on site. With the most damaged areas now identified, the pipeline owner was able to evaluate the risks, and replace some of the pipes that were identified as high risk for leakage or accident.

Corrosion on pipe_Real time results in Pipecheck

The customer was impressed by the scanning speed of the Pipecheck solution and its real-time data generation feature, and very satisfied to get instant results. As for us, we were happy to go back home to enjoy the sun and warmth of June!

Last February, I was lucky enough to escape Quebec City’s harsh winter season for a while and fly to the warm Altamira region of Mexico in order to complete a 3D scanning project.

Turbocare asked Creaform to take several 3D measurements in a thermoelectric plant using steam turbines. The goal of this project was to replace the old, worn units, but also to improve the energy efficiency of the plant.


Given the extended scope of the project, it was impossible to replace everything in this dated plant, and it was decided that the envelopes on which the diaphragms were sitting had to stay in place. My task was to scan the diaphrams, their envelope and the rotor to get reliable measurements on which to reverse engineer the replacement parts. Doing so would ensure that everything properly fit in its right place during installation. 

Since Turbocare needed to digitize each side of the diaphragm, we had to use devices that would provide very a accurate positioning model that would make it possible to link both sides of the object. So, I geared myself with the Handyscan 3D self-positioning portable 3D scanner and the MaxSHOT optical coordinate measuring system.

Dealing with unwanted vibrations

I also realized that I was bound to deal with vibrations – I was working in a thermoelectric plant! Luckily, I quickly solved this problem by placing referencing targets on the objects to be scanned to take advantage of Creaform’s TRUaccuracy dynamic referencing feature, which make the system (and the generated results) completely insensitive to vibrations. Consequently, there was no loss of accurary during scanning, even if the diaphrams were placed in a somewhat unstable vertical position.

Working with a portable scanner really helped me moving easily to directly reach the object to be scanned instead of having to wait for technicians to place it for me. This made the scanning a lot quicker, especially for the diaphragms. Some parts like the turbine stands were a little harder to reach and offered very little space to work, but all in all, everything went smoothly.


Working in sunny Mexico, or how to make sure that high temperatures have no effect on data

The temperature in Mexico was very nice at sunrise… but it quickly became suffocating in the early morning. Since this heat was having an impact on my body (and my sweating!), I figured it might be impacting the internal components of the scanner and coordinate system as well. Better safe than sorry, I made sure to calibrate the device 3 times a day to reflect temperature changes and guarantee data repeatability and accuracy. As the calibration process of a Handyscan 3D is so quick and easy (less than 1 minute), this really was a piece of cake.

When power generation engineers are happy, everybody is!

Turbocare engineers really appreciated working in parallel with Creaform technologies, because they saved time (quick data acquisition process) and were able to ensure high accuracy, which is an important benefit when performing reverse engineering.

Because our 3D measurement solutions deliver quality scanning data and versatility, Turbocare has become a returning client and often requests our metrology services for various projects throughout the world. I personally had the chance to work with them twice since, once more in Mexico and in the USA.

capture Diaphragme STL file

Witte is considered as one of the leading industrial companies in the field of “modular fixturing systems“. They are recognized as the global market leader in this area thanks to their Alufix modular system and versatile vacuum clamping systems for all kinds of machining applications.


Before the HandyPROBE optical CMM…

Before Witte acquired a Creaform HandyPROBE PCMM, the fixtures were roughly assembled on a structural plan, and the part contact for the fixtures was aligned on CNC measuring machines afterwards. Depending on the quality of the machined blocks, this approach could be very time-consuming, as the coordinate measuring machine would be used for adjustment tasks for fairly long periods.


And after the discovery of optical 3D measurement!

When pre-aligning the contact points using the HandyPROBE CMM, we were able to align most of the installation points of the fixtures with such high accuracy that no rework at all had to be done using the large CMM! As a result, the time needed to probe the fixtures with the CMM was reduced by a considerable margin. Note that it is essential for the fixtures to be placed on the CMM during the process, as this is where the measurement log for the final inspection of the contact points is done.


The training session highlighted some additional benefits of the HandyPROBE system, of which the dynamic referencing feature,that particularly stood out. This functionality enables both the fixture and the camera system to move during measurement. What’s more, the optical link used by the system totally ignores vibrations and environmental changes that occur in harsh working conditions, which means that they do not impact measurement accuracy at all.


As the picture shows, no special set-up is required for the component to be calibrated, and the component can be rotated into the ideal position during measuring. This method is not possible with measurement arms, as they require the component and the measuring system to be fully secured in relation to each other to ensure measurement accuracy. The HandyPROBE can be used practically anywhere, and it is ready to work in no time: it takes about 5 minutes to set up and about the same to put away!

After only 1 day of training in using the device, the employees at Witte were able to operate the Creaform HandyPROBE themselves and adjust their fixtures!

While carrying out a recent project that I was assigned to, I witnessed firsthand the benefits of Creaform’s HandyPROBE optical and portable CMM over mechanical CMM like Romer or Faro arm.

A few months ago, I visited Ranger Design, manufacturer of customized van racking and storage equipment for commercial vehicles to inspect jigs that they had built for a major car manufacturer. I had to inspect 2 jigs for 2 different vehicles in one day; the length of the jigs varied from 3 ft. to 15 ft.

Choosing the right inspection tool

The fact that the parts to QC were so different in size really complicated my work. Plus, we had never worked in this location. Except for part size and tolerances, I didn’t really know what to expect. That being said, I was not worried at all. I knew that the HandyPROBE, with its TRUaccuracy concept, would help me do a great job.


When I got there, the customer was shaky and doubtful, because the jigs were located on the shop-floor and close to an assembly line. He was afraid that the vibrations would interfere with our system and data accuracy. OK – he obviously didn’t know how the HandyPROBE worked! ;-) We saved 1 hour of work straight from the start sincee we did not have to move the jigs.

I plugged the system in, started to affix the adhesive positioning targets on the jigs. I could have used magnetic targets, but because there was a possibility that we would have to do some more work on the jigs later on, the adhesive targets were a better choice because I could leave them on the jig so to be able to align the referential to the part instantly the next time!

Client wants in!

The client wanted to see how the system worked. In fact, he was so intrigued by the process that he participated in the calibration of the HandyPROBE! What interested him the most was how to leapfrog so to inspect the complete large jig. You should have seen the smile on his face when he saw how easy and fast the process was. With a click of a button, I started target acquisition on the other part of the jig: 20 seconds later, I was done! 


After aligning the referential to the jig, I went on with the probing measurement, and I got real-time feedback from the system for every feature I measured while the program was being automatically built. At the end of the day, the customer wanted to add some comparison points. We simply inserted them into the report, which took no time at all.


A major automotive manufacturer asked Creaform to 3D scan robot hands on their production line. This kind of tooling is used to manipulate embossed sheet metal that will be used for the vehicles under construction. These robot hands are all hand-tuned, because it is very difficult to predict the final shape of embossed sheet metal and know in advance if the robot will have a good grip on it. So, the client actually had 2 goals in mind with this project:

1)     Update design drawings;

2)     Use acquired data to get a better understanding and improve tooling design.

Project Challenges
Some challenges awaited us: first, the client wanted to measure with very high accuracy the contact points between the tool and the part, and these are pretty small points. Plus, we had to deal with the very tight space of manufacturing cells, which are pretty crowded on the production line of a car manufacturer! For the sake of the project, we scanned during a temporary shutdown of the production line. We had access to the parts on a periodic basis, and we had to be fast.

Rotating Weld Jig

3D scanning in highly-vibrating environments
Given the level of vibrations in the work environment, the number of parts to scan and the short period of time we had to do it, the accuracy required and the difficulty to reach the areas to be scanned, we had to use a system that would be accurate, fast, easy to set up and portable! A great challenge for the MetraSCAN 210 and the TRUaccuracy, TRUsimplicity and TRUportability concepts!

Working in no time!
Our access to the assembly line was extremely limited: we could only access the site for 16 hours total. The time window was so narrow that 4 applications engineers were needed to complete the work in time. But once the word was out that the manufacturing plant was in Barcelona, in Spain, finding volunteers became a piece of cake!

Having the chance to travel to various countries for work brings its share of surprises and challenges. In this case, we faced a major language barrier. Some of us could get by in Spanish, but Barcelonians most widely use Catalan as their primary language!


Despite some communications issues, the scanning part went very well. The fact that we were able to set up the C-Track far from the bulk of the equipment made it easier to scan the parts with the MetraSCAN 210 scanner. This scanner also facilitates and speeds up the scanning process because of its greater stand-off (compared to the Handyscan 3D scanners), while keeping steady data accuracy at all times.

About this blog

This blog is definitely about innovation - about new technologies, new methodologies, new projects and new outcomes.

Through this blog, we will reach to the whole Creaform community and share info about the 3D world – our world.

  • sistema venus: is the first time you visit this web site and I was liking this much information here [...]
  • Borges: very nice article! it easily shows how your technology can be exported ;-) [...]
  • Isabelle Roy: Hello! First, thank you for reading us and for flagging the problem. We ran some tests following yo [...]
  • Antonio Sánchez: An exceptional work [...]
  • Suyash: How different it was from "welding fixture" scan, for a sheet metal component too. Seems exactly th [...]