Optical Scanners and Digitizers are non-contact metrology systems which utilize laser or white light based scanning technology to image an object by obtaining several coordinate points and reconstruct them using software. A typical system will have scanner head, platform, and software to enable measurements. The primary applications of Optical Scanners and Digitizers are broadly categorized to dimensional measurements, inspection, and reverse engineering. The ability of these systems to measure tough-to-reach and complex geometrical features with precision and reliability has gained customers across various verticals such as Automotive, Heavy machinery, Machine Shops, Aerospace and Defense. Frost & Sullivan believes there are more growth opportunities to drive the market in near future. This article aims to provide an overview of certain trends such as the evolving end-user requirements, in-line metrology, and changing business models which are some of the key impacting factors in the optical scanners and digitizers market. Furthermore, it provides a brief overview of emerging applications and challenges faced by the market players.

Market Segmentation

Figure: Overview of Optical scanners and Digitizers Market segmentation and Applications

Evolving End-user Requirements

  • Demand for non-contact measurement technology

Trends observed in the key end-user verticals such as Automotive, Aerospace, and Wind Turbine industries clearly indicate the inclination toward advanced designs and manufacturing processes. These changes demand the use of non-contact inspection technologies such as optical scanners. Furthermore, Aerospace and Wind Turbine verticals use large composite structures such as commercial plane’s fuselage and long turbine blades which have to be inspected within the production cycle. The optical scanners find opportunity in measurement of these structures by providing fast, flexible, and reliable performance as opposed to CMMs capability.

  • The need for integration

The old generation CMMs are almost a decade old now and end-users have to upgrade their system. As end-users look to improve flexibility, integrating optical scanners with CMM is the preferred solution. It is estimated that more than 50% of the conventional CMMs are set to be upgraded with 3D laser scanner installations. Another motivation behind this adoption is to have a complete digital inspection process. The 3D laser scanners have the capability to digitize the parts up-front and run inspection on digital copies of samples. This optimizes metrology operations and integrates them into CAD-centric design-through-manufacturing process. The method proves to be extremely fast, provide deep insights, and enables flexibility and automation. For instance, CMMs along with 3D scanners provide accurate information of aerodynamics for each blade. In addition, inspection task is cut almost by 40% by using 3D Laser scanners along with CMMs.

The Need for Inline-Metrology Boosts Optical Scanner Adoption

Traditionally measurements in the assembly line of automotive industries have to be carried out separately in a measurement room. As the workers have to move components manually, a significant amount of time and effort is consumed. Furthermore, it elevates the operation cost and the go-to-market time. As a part of lean manufacturing, all these opportunities have to be addressed to improve margins and operation efficiency. With the advancements in optical scanners, the situation can be improved by utilizing the concept of in-line metrology. In-line metrology is the migration of metrology equipment to the shop floor, where end-users can integrate high-precision-automated CMMs and optical scanners. These machines can either be located close to assembly lines or placed within the assembly lines. In-line metrology provides the end-user with the ability to perform 100% inspection within the production cycle and reduce manual intervention to a minimum level. Above all, In-line metrology allows end-users to focus on the quality of the process by programming and analysis of the collected measurement data. As the point of data collection moves closer to the process, huge scrap loss can be averted by the use of in-line metrology tools. In summary, as the benefits of in-line metrology are compelling, optical scanners are expected to gain adoption.

Changing Business Model

End-users in the manufacturing sector have advanced to a highly competitive market with narrowing margins and price pressure from unexpected factors. To overcome this situation, adapting to new business models is among the listed solutions. End-user verticals certainly look on various budgets, including a key focus on equipment costs. Traditionally, equipment are purchased with the working capital and the end-users bargain a discount of 20% of more to sustain the competition. While the purchase cost is attributed to capital expenditure, the cost of maintaining the equipment in good condition is an operational cost which is a continuous expense. Equipment rental is trending as the new solution which does not consume on the capital expenditure and enable the manufacturers to be competitive. In the equipment rental model, metrology service providers provide quotations for repair, maintenance, and calibration costs which have to be paid on a monthly basis. For the end-user, these expenses are accounted only as an operational cost. Metrology service providers usually provide a discount of 5% to 15% as they expect the equipment to be rented over an extended period of time. It is observed that end-users prefer those bundled rental schemes which offer both equipment and operating technicians. Even though the business model finds attraction among the end-users, a lot of leads are missed due to lack of technical expertise in operating metrology equipment. To overcome this, manufacturers and service providers are likely to chart-out their 5 years go-to-market strategies.

Market Challenges Trend

Increased fragmentation and higher competition impact product pricing. Due to the presence of service providers in the market, end-users gain bargaining power. Pricing pressure is further elevated by the total cost of ownership which is expected to remain significant in the near to intermediate future. Experts cite growing the business and cross-selling to end users in one of the key challenges, as they spend an average of $4000 to acquire a new customer. Finally, market players find it challenging to meet dynamically changing end-user requirements. Experts believe that R&D allocations will grow between 5% and 20% by 2020 for metrology market players.

Emerging Application Areas beyond Traditional Boundaries

It is imperative to find new application areas to expand the business in this highly competitive and price sensitive market. Frost & Sullivan identifies some of the key emerging applications including Heritage restoration, Forensics, Paper & Pulp, Forensics, Law Investigation, Insurance, Oil & Gas, Augmented Reality, Medical, 3D Surveying, and 3D Printing.


In summary, price competition and advancements in the key end-user verticals are driving changes in the optical scanner and digitizers metrology market. The non-contact measurement methodology of the optical scanners coupled with precision measurement within product cycle times makes the systems attractive for adoption among the end-user verticals. As the industry faces severe pricing pressure due to competition as well as lower end-user profit margins, emerging applications should be focused to drive the market.

About Frost & Sullivan

For six decades, Frost & Sullivan has been world-renowned for its role in helping investors, corporate leaders and governments navigate economic changes and identify disruptive technologies, Mega Trends, new business models and companies to action, resulting in a continuous flow of growth opportunities to drive future success.

Frost & Sullivan

For six decades, Frost & Sullivan has been world-renowned for its role in helping investors, corporate leaders and governments navigate economic changes and identify disruptive technologies, Mega Trends, new business models and companies to action, resulting in a continuous flow of growth opportunities to drive future success.

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