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3D Scanned Item, simplify & reduce for Solidworks usage

Question asked by Jesse Robbers on Aug 18, 2019
Latest reply on Aug 18, 2019 by Jesse Robbers

Hello, I could use some help, guidance, recommendations, or opinions from people that have experience in this space.The space being taking 3D scanned files of items and bringing them into Solidworks to work with to reduce and simplify the face count while not hurting the quality of level of detail.


The attached .stl file is a 3D scan of an item that was created by hand, there is no CAD data for it, I would like to create CAD data for this item. I have multiple files of this scanned item in different resolutions, one with 200k faces or triangles, 350k, 500k, 1m, & 2m resolutions. The scanned 200k .stl file is attached here. I was able to import the scanned file into Solidworks with the make solid option thru it's import process, though this 75MB file is too large for here compressed or not compressed. I have an image of this solid file attached, it has many lines and edges, some shown, most are not, even to section view takes very long time. We'll use the 200k item as it's the smallest file size and resolution and easier to work with. If I need more resolution I can apply recommendations from here in my own time onto those higher res files. 


I would like to be able to work with the scanned file as a solid body and greatly simplify and reduce the triangle face count, possibly resulting with much larger surfaces typical if the item was created in CAD......but without doing all of the work to re-create this in CAD manually. Also w/o using equally as much time and labor to fix, repair and things like that to the .stl file prior to importing into Solidworks. I'm not against using this scanned file for reference and modeling about it in a typical manner, but would like for this to be a last resort as in the future similar request(s) may come and I would like to establish a good method. This particular item isn't very complex and can be modeled well, but I would like to see if I can use the .stl data for this effort and also to establish a means or method for future scanned items that may be difficult to model from scratch and are more complex than this item is.


I will not need to make major changes to this item, but any simple feature going into all of those little triangle faces, with VOR setting on, will be heavy and slow to work with or it will not resolve. I also will need to shell the item, remove bottom flat face, to a 3mm thickness, all of those triangle faces throughout will not work with a shell feature.


I have spent 1.5 days looking into this but seem to be hitting roadblocks, or am too much of a novice in this area, or this area or request isn't possible for my expectations or intent and this is an area that could be greatly improved upon for software manufacturers out there. I've looked into a lot of mesh software and experimented with them (the free ones that is), with Meshmixer being the best option and Meshlab the 2nd best in my opinion. I wanted to clean up the stl file prior to Solidworks importing but these 2 software didn't do much for my intent. I could smooth the texture out some, possibly losing detail or sharpness, but this is not of much help, The stl file is looking good in smoothness as is for the most part, whatever texture is left is OK, some will be added once the item is 3D printed and then sanded or worked by hand to smooth it out. The other option was to reduce the triangle face count, but this results in quality or edge detail loss that isn't acceptable and still has too many triangle faces to be workable in Solidworks usage.


I've messed around with Scan to 3D, it has a few things inside of it, overall for this it isn't good enough. Image attached showing it's surface wizard capturing some of the simpler surfaces leaving voids elsewhere and buggy erratic surfaces in some instances. Other ways or using Scan to 3D results in the whole mesh losing detail or just not acceptable results where everything is washed out, poor quality, holes are present, just not good.


I've tried working on this as a imported item solid body, imported item surface body, drag drop from file explorer into Solidworks (makes for a mesh feature in the feature manager and allows Scan to 3D to be functional) but I can't get anywhere.I see some videos online working exactly how I want, or closer to how I want (though the items are smaller and simpler) but using their workflow it doesn't work for this item I have.


Using Point Cloud data in SolidWorks: Scan to 3D - YouTube 


SolidWorks, video 1. Reverse engineering of Organic forms. 3D scan processing. - YouTube 


On my own accord I'm thinking that it's best that I model this item referencing the scanned item as I go. If anyone else has experience in this area or type of work, please advise me your experiences or suggestions.