Digitize Designs uses 3D scanning technology to solve endless challenges

Problem: Disruptions in the supply chain make it difficult for your company to source spare parts for a critical machine part. What to do?

Enter Greenville-based Digitize designsa company founded in 2016 that sells 3D scanners and offers 3D scanning solutions for a wide range of applications.

Especially with that Technology to reverse engineer critical parts is becoming more common as companies seek innovative ways to solve supply chain challenges, aaccording to founder Bo Helmrich.

monkey claw?

Digitize Designs recently made detailed scans of a plaster cast Orangutan’s hand for the Greenville Zoo, used for educational programs.

With the speed and precision of current commercial 3D scanners, which range in cost from around $20,000 to $200,000, companies and the engineers they employ have a range of capabilities and applications that would have been hard to imagine in decades past, says Helmrich.

“[3D scanning technology] completely changes the way engineers work,” he says. “There are always new applications.”

As technology improves and the world of virtual reality becomes more ubiquitous and, in a word, more realistic, Helmrich anticipates that 3D scanners will eventually become an everyday household item.

Digitizing Designs is located in NEXT production building on Birnie Street, and the company routinely provides scanning services for engineering projects, anthropology departments, and prosthetics designers, to name a few applications. Helmrich says he can easily see where technology will soon revolutionize online shopping – from measuring a room to find the right furniture to precisely measuring a person’s foot for perfectly fitting shoes.

“Personally, I think everyone will have their own 3D scanner for all kinds of applications,” he says. “People are really creative and come up with new ways of doing things.”

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New applications for the technology, prompted in many cases by pandemic lockdowns, underscore the fundamental truth of the adage that necessity is the mother of invention. For example, at the height of the pandemic, Helmrich and his team were helping the anatomy department at Louisiana State University perform highly detailed scans of a cadaver dissection. These scans allowed the school to develop online anatomy classes during the time when face-to-face classes were not possible.

A scanner dark

3D scans of cadavers can be used to support anatomy programs at colleges and universities instead of dissecting the cadavers in person.

In another novel application, the company made detailed scans of a plaster cast of an orangutan’s hand Greenville Zoo. These scans were then used to create plastic replicas that the zoo uses in its educational programs.

According to Helmrich, such uses could soon become routine for museums and historic sites where artifacts may be too fragile for display. In fact, the technology is so useful and adaptable that it’s only limited by the imaginations of the people who use it.

“I think the technology is cool, I can easily outsmart it,” says Helmrich. “This world moves fast.”

Fast facts on digitizing designs

  • Founded in 2016, the company employs eight people and sells 3D scanners and scanning services.
  • The company’s projects included providing detailed scans of the Civil War submarine H. L. Hunley and Bones for the Department of Anthropology at the University of South Carolina.
  • The company sells 3D scanners from various manufacturers at prices between 20,000 and 200,000 US dollars.
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