What do you get when you cross a structured light scanner and a portable measuring arm?

Structured light scanners aren’t typically known for their speed, but they are in fact incredibly fast measurement devices when it comes to data collection – a structured light scanner can take a highly-detailed image several metres across in an instant. So when we saw customers using our Absolute Arm systems to digitise larger workpieces but finding the time required frustrating, we knew structured light scanning technology was the answer. This initial idea sparked the development of the RS-SQUARED Area Scanner, the world’s first ever structured light scanner mounted on a portable measuring arm.

We wanted to deliver a scanner that could work in tandem with our high-accuracy laser scanners to deliver even faster scanning when it was needed. With the raw speed of structured light data collection, we saw the potential to deliver just that.

We also saw that with a portable measuring arm, we could sidestep all the difficulties of setup time, calibration and data alignment that slow down a typical structured light scanner. Solving that problem is exactly what an Absolute Arm is built for – providing a global 3D coordinate system for a probe or sensor with no need to recalibrate before use thanks to a patented repeatable mounting and integrated Absolute Encoders.

But what we would need to do was make our new scanner small enough to fit on an arm and be used by hand – and that meant making it smaller than any other area scanner on the market. There’s always a trade off when miniaturising technology, and with RS-SQUARED the solution was to maintain speed performance while focusing less on data quality and accuracy.

The concept of a metrology device being only ‘as accurate as needed’ instead of ‘as accurate as possible’ is something we’ve seen before at Hexagon. In 2018, the Leica Absolute Scanner LAS-XL was launched as a high-productivity scanner for the Absolute Tracker range – a counterpoint to the high-detail, high dynamic scanning of the Leica Absolute Scanner LAS and Leica T-Scan 5.

Like the LAS-XL, RS-SQUARED retains metrology-grade detail and accuracy, but at a lower level than that provided by a flagship sensor like the RS6 Laser Scanner. And the payoff is in much faster measurement process times. RS-SQUARED is aimed squarely at the fast-growing range of applications to which metrology tools are being applied where speed is fundamentally more important than extreme accuracy.

What’s important to remember is that RS-SQUARED remains part of a wider system that can still deliver high-detail data when needed. The RS-SQUARED is just one among several scanner options for the Absolute Arm: users who need high-detail, high-accuracy measurement can quickly and simply switch to our RS5 and RS6 laser scanners, even within the same measurement session.

So how do we imagine the RS-SQUARED being applied? To talk generally in terms that could apply across a range of industries, imagine a medium-sized part with a handful of small, relatively detailed features that demand a high-detail scanner. Such a part will typically have edges that also need a high-detail scanner. But it’s pretty common for 50 to 80 percent of such a part to be nothing but plain surface for which only simple data is needed in order to complete the ‘digital twin’ picture.

As an operator, you can spend an hour collecting unnecessarily detailed data on that surface by painting it with the 150-millmetre wide scan line of a best-in-class laser scanner. But what if you could make an almost instantaneous switch to a different scanner that would digitise the entire surface in less than 5 minutes? That is simply a huge time saving, and that’s exactly what RS-SQUARED offers.

And the entire thing is so integrated as a single Absolute Arm system that it can be done without even changing to a new software session; all the data for both scanners is immediately mapped together and integrated within the same coordinate system and can be used as if it were all collected by the same device.

The benefit of RS-SQUARED comes down to this: speed when you still need data but don’t need detail. And for those times when you do need more detail and higher accuracy, the RS-SQUARED pairs perfectly with our RS5 Laser Scanner. That’s why we’ve packaged them together in a special RS Wireless Scanning Bundle – take a look here for more information about the package.


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