New Cutting Edge Equipment for Design Technology at IWCC


November 27th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Officials with Iowa Western Community College in Atlantic report that with the help of local donors, a new piece of technology has been purchased for the Design Technology Program, with the goal of understanding how objects can be taken from the physical world, translated into a virtual image, and then reproduced (using a 3-D printer) back into the physical world. The piece of equipment, made by FARO Industries, is commonly referred to as the FARO Arm and Laser Scanner.

FARO arm & laser scanner (Picture from

FARO arm & laser scanner (Picture from

By using a highly tuned laser scanner, thousands of points per second are reflected off of the surface of an object. The result is a collage of hundreds of thousands of points, (referred to as a “point cloud”), which is reminiscent of a 3-D game of connect-the-dots. The point cloud is then uploaded to specialized software that connects all the points to create solid surfaces. At this point, the object can be manipulated and altered to fit the needs of the Design Technology students. Once the virtual image is verified, the students can then hit the “Print” button and the design will spring to life, creating a copy of the object that was just scanned.

This technology now gives students the opportunity to recreate objects that may be too complex to measure with traditional hand tools. With the FARO Laser Scanner, students can now capture all of the free-flowing, aerodynamic curves. The tandem function of Design Technology’s 3-D printer and the Faro Laser Scanner gives Design Tech students a unique experience during their education. In addition, it creates a broad skill set that will earn them the opportunity to be employed in a wide variety of positions across a full spectrum of industries.