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ScanTo3D Overview

Using the SolidWorks software’s ScanTo3D functionality, you can open scan data from any scanner (mesh or point cloud files) or curve data from mathematics software, prepare the data, then convert it into a surface or solid model.

When you open the scan data, you can open it as a new part document or import it into the currently active part document. Click Options in the Open dialog box and set the options.

ScanTo3D significantly reduces the time required to build complex 3D models from non-digital data. Designers can use ScanTo3D for various purposes:

  • Medical designers - Create anatomical objects for reference.

Example of a solid created from scanned data of a hand, using the Surface Wizard's Automatic creation.

  • Consumer product designers - Create quick representations of physical components made from clay, foam, etc.

  • Machine designers - Create quick references to OEM parts.

ScanTo3D is available only in SolidWorks Premium. To activate ScanTo3D, click Tools, Add-Ins, and select ScanTo3D.

If you have a NextEngine scanner, click NextEngine Scan (ScanTo3D toolbar) or Tools, ScanTo3D, NextEngine Scan to start NextEngine scanning.

Two methods for converting scan data to a solid model:

Semi-manual creation: Direct Mesh Referencing

Direct mesh referencing is useful for very complex surfaces, such as consumer products.

Use the Surface Wizard's Automatic creation to automatically create surfaces from a mesh. The Surface Wizard's Guided creation requires more user interaction and works well for models for mostly analytical shapes (simple shapes, such as machined parts), but not for complex parts.








  1. Open the scan data (mesh or point cloud file).

  2. Prepare the mesh using the Mesh Prep Wizard to create a mesh feature.

  3. Section the mesh using the Section View tool (View toolbar)

  4. Sketch 2D and 3D curves on the mesh feature.

  5. Build surfaces using the curves. Use the Curve Wizard to create section and boundary curves. You can also import and edit IGES, IBL, CSV, and TXT files containing point data that defines discrete curve sets

  6. Analyze and refine the surfaces using the Deviation Analysis tool.

  7. Trim and knit the surfaces.

  8. Create the solid model.

Semi-automated creation using wizards

The Mesh Prep and Surface Wizards guide you through the ScanTo3D process. If you already have clean mesh data, use just the Surface Wizard to create a solid model. Use the Surface Wizard’s automatic creation for anatomical and organic shapes. Use guided creation for analytical faces. Use the Deviation Analysis tool to analyze and refine surfaces.

  1. Open the scan data (mesh or point cloud file).

  2. Prepare the mesh using the Mesh Prep Wizard to create a mesh feature.

  3. Use the Surface Wizard to create surfaces from the mesh feature using automatic or guided creation.

  4. Trim and knit the surfaces.

  5. Create the solid model.

Overview of the ScanTo3D Process

To open scan data:

  1. Click Open and select one of the following types of scan data files in Files of type:

  • Mesh Files (*.nxm; *.scn; *.3ds; *.obj; *.stl; *.wrl; *.ply; *.ply2)

  • PointCloud Files (*.xyz; *.txt; *.asc; *.vda; *.igs; *.ibl)

ScanTo3D automatically imports textures from 3D Studio .3ds, .obj, and .wrl files provided the textures are clearly linked to the mesh file. Otherwise, the mesh imports with no textures. You can specify the location of texture files in the Import Options dialog box..

  1. Browse to a file for File name.

  2. Click Options, set the import options, then click OK.

  3. Click Open.

Mesh or Point Cloud appears in the FeatureManager design tree.

To run the Mesh Prep Wizard:

  1. With a mesh or point cloud file open, click Mesh Prep Wizard (ScanTo3D toolbar) or Tools, ScanTo3D, Mesh Prep Wizard.

  2. Follow the wizard to prepare a mesh feature from which you extract surfaces.

After preparing the mesh, you can choose to continue with the Surface Wizard (The Launch Surface Wizard option is selected by default).

To run the Surface Wizard:

  1. Open a file that contains a mesh feature and click Surface Wizard (ScanTo3D toolbar) Tools, ScanTo3D, Surface Wizard.

  2. Follow the wizard which has two methods to extract surfaces:

  • Automatic creation. Uses a single-step process to automatically create a solid model. This option is good for anatomical and organic shapes.

  • Guided creation. Uses a multi-step process to create surfaces, allowing you more control over the surfaces. This option is good for analytical surfaces or when you want to have more control over the surfaces.

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