Collected 3D information is useful in a large diversity of applications. The entertainment industry makes frequent use of these capabilities in the production of movies and video games. Other uses of this technology would include designs for industry, quality control, and the documentation of cultural artefacts.
The way that these devices tend to operate is to points of geometric samples on the surface of an object. Then these points will be used to extrapolate the shape of the objects (called reconstruction). If information is derived at each point, then colors can also be retrieved.
A scan will not produce a complete model of the subject in most of the cases. Usually it takes hundreds of scans from multiple directions in order to get the full effect and all of the data that is needed to complete the project. Then the scans have to be input into a common system of reference which merges all of the data to form a complete model. The entire process which moves from a single range map to the finished model is called the 3D scanning pipeline.
Of course this process can get unbelievably complex, and that is why it gets computerised, but the final output can be stunningly impressive. Think of it, you are scanning a flat paper, or a series of flat papers and when the process is completely finished, you have a 3D model of the object sitting in front of you.
The 3D scanners help with cost savings when used in the auto industry to test the designs of parts without having the actual part. A model of the part can be scanned and configured into a 3D model and tested in that manner as to fit and space it requires.;
If you are going to reverse engineer a mechanical component, you will need a very precise digital model of the component to be reproduced. A 3D model can be more easily created with the 3D scanner more quickly and at less cost.
Many research projects have been undertaken by the scanning of historical sites and artifacts, and then analyzed for documentation purposes.