Aircraft Manufacturing Company Uses SHINING 3D FreeScan UE Pro for Sailplane Quality Control

August 23, 2022

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When aircraft manufacturers need to perform sophisticated quality control and document their handcrafted structures for future use in design and modification, they understand that handheld 3D scanners will be the ultimate answer.

Tool Used: FreeScan UE Pro, EinScan HX


Since Akaflieg Stuttgart was founded in 1926, hundreds of prospective engineers have been involved, and several aviation pioneers have built their first aircraft at Akaflieg. Over the past decades, many prototypes have been developed under enthusiastic Akaflieg members. Some of these developments have had a decisive impact on aircraft construction. The AK-X from the academic aviation club Karlsruhe is a very progressive sailplane project.

As a sailplane with an unusually shaped fuselage, the AK-X has many curved surfaces and is difficult to measure in traditional ways, so Dominic, the project manager contacted 3D Scan Academy to quantify deviations for future part replacement with the help of a 3D scanner, and to archive this data information.

Unique Shaped Sailplane AK-X


Using FreeScan UE Pro, 3D Scan Academy engineers scanned the airframe to see the deviations compared to CAD. Since the production process involved a lot of manual work, the hand-placed parts were able to be checked against the scanned 3D model to see if large deviations were produced. In addition, the engineers built the fuselage with different pavement thicknesses that were not all recorded in the CAD. Through accurate scanning with FreeScan UE Pro, the different thicknesses were recorded for the benefit of future parts that are still in the design process.

Scan with FreeScan UE Pro

In addition, the engineers scanned the interior of the wing in order to record the controls within the wing housing. These records were kept as documentation. As an accurate measurement tool, FreeScan UE Pro integrates a new generation of binocular photogrammetry systems that can accurately measure the complete 3D data of large fuselages and wings.


In terms of textures, engineers use EinScan HX for scanning, which, in addition to satisfactory scanning efficiency and accuracy, has a built-in color camera that provides texture scanning for AK-X to be able to see different lay-ups directions and better identifies materials.

Scan with EinScan HX


Then, Dominic imported the scanned data into the inspection software to see if the fuselage and wings they produced matched the CAD drawings. Thankfully, most of them were green, and neither produced much deviation. Some hand traces were also considered reasonable modifications.  “With the 3D scanners as inspection tools, we save ourselves a lot of manual work in the construction because we can better adjust the part to it right from the start”, Dominic says, “and have to do less sanding, less manual work and less measuring.”

Thanks to the coordination between FreeScan UE Pro and EinScan HX in this project, quality control and documentation of the hand-made structures were carried out efficiently. Compared to traditional measurement methods, the digital approach definitely guarantees accuracy and speeds up the entire workflow.

“As you have seen, we were really able to draw a lot from these 3D scans”, Dominic adds, “and this will save us a lot of work in the future.”



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