Introductory Message from Michael Raphael

Whether you are new or not to laser scanning or this news forum, welcome! If you have been in the industry for a while, then youve probably come to know of Gene Roe and his wonderful LiDAR News Blog the predecessor of this new forum. I am proud to know Gene and thankful for his ongoing efforts to extend the knowledge base around the industry. I am also happy to be afforded the opportunity to help extend my knowledge and background in laser scanning to all of his readers.
Speaking of my background, I am the founder and owner of Direct Dimensions, Inc. (DDI, located in Baltimore, MD USA. Last year we celebrated our 15th anniversary. We are probably one of the more unique 3D scanning firms in the United States and perhaps beyond.

We are different from the primary audience for this new LiDAR-focused publication in various ways. First of all, my professional roots as an engineer are in close range 3D industrial metrology, reverse engineering, and quality control. Of course we use laser scanners, in fact quite a variety of different types, as well as other coordinate metrology tools, to collect the 3D data we then post-process into CAD models, dimensional analysis, or various other formats.

Back in the day, over 20 years ago now, I helped develop the FaroArm a portable 3D coordinate measuring machine. We started in 1989 when I became FAROs first customer for this new industrial product as a quality engineer at a major aerospace manufacturing firm in Baltimore.

My relationship with FARO started when we had spotted their medical product, then called the Metrecom, essentially being used as a portable 3D digitizer but strictly for medical testing. We asked FARO, a then 10-year old medical technology company, if they would convert the device for our industrial metrology purposes. The rest is history, given that most everyone reading this article probably knows of FARO and their growth and success since then. This was how they first entered our industry.

Heres a little known fact for you, the generic name is for these portable CMMs is electrogoniometer for the electronic measurement of angles. Try telling union factory workers that you are bringing an electrogoniometer over to take some measurements of their parts. I did that for some 5 years before finally leaving aerospace in 1995 to start Direct Dimensions. Fast forward 15 years and while the FARO Arm was our first 3D measurement tool, today we have dozens of 3D technologies from many OEMs from around the world that we use daily for a very wide variety of 3D applications.

As an engineer, versus a surveyor, I probably view scanning from a different perspective, which may be why I was selected to be included in this new feature. I look forward to sharing the many great stories we have with the success of these 3D technologies.

Over the past 15 years we have evolved our industrial metrology to include mid- and long-range laser scanning. Just to give you a few ideas of what we do, we have scanned and modeled cultural artifacts including the Liberty Bell, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier; famous art works such as Matisses, Degas, and many Jeff Koon sculptures; vehicles such as cars, planes, trains, ships, and subs; 1000s of industrial objects; lots of people including famous movie stars (Natalie Portman, for example) and sports figures (Ray Lewis), and even several wounded U.S. soldiers; a palace in Korea, propellers in Israel, and ancient rock formations in Guatemala.

Our website is loaded with hundreds of images, case studies, and project stories as well as descriptions of the wide variety of software and hardware tools we use everyday. We also have an extensive educational primer on 3D scanning, digital modeling, and various post-processing applications in our Learn More section. I encourage anyone learning about 3D scanning to visit our website and also to sign up for our newsletter and twitter feed.

I believe strongly in educating and collaborating about 3D technology. I participate is many conferences and organizations. Currently I am the chairman the SME 3D Imaging Tech Group ( I am an elected member to the Executive Committee of the CMSC ( responsible for the technical presentations. I have participated and presented at most of the U.S.-based SPAR conferences. And I attend, present, and participate in many other 3D related conferences in many different industries.

Over the next months in my articles, I hope to describe for you the wide variety of applications for 3D imaging and how many industries can be impacted and helped with this technology. Perhaps more than most any other firm, we cross-over with 3D imaging into more applications than I can even count. I believe the adoption of 3D imaging is growing faster than ever, gaining broad acceptance, and becoming as the medical community calls it the standard of care for the solution of many problems in many industries. I very much look forward to reading and participating in this new magazine. Thank you for the opportunity.

If anyone reading this has any questions or comments about any aspects of 3D imaging, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.