Mesh - 3D Laser Scanning


A Mesh file (.stl) is a triangulated surface recorded in a three dimensional co-ordinate system.

Mesh files are most commonly used in manufacturing methods such as 3D printing, rapid prototyping and computer aided manufacture.

They can also be used for inspection, measurement and reverse engineering.

A Mesh file can be generated from a point cloud file, created by 3D scanning equipment. This process does requires some post processing of the scan data to optimize it for use with an .stl.

Additional post processing actions can be performed on mesh files too, such as smoothing, de-featuring, filling holes etc.

Mesh files can also be created by converting CAD models,

This allows for the creation of hybrid models, where some features have been created from scan data and some by more conventional CAD.



  • Cheap and quick to produce.
  • Can be created from scan data or CAD models
  • Can be used for multiple purposes.
  • Additional post processing features can be performed.


  • Not compatible with many of CAD packages.


  • Can be used for 3D printing, rendering etc.
  • Can be used as reference data with compatible software.
  • Used in the process of creating a NURBS surface model.
  • Can be used for inspection, measurements and reverse engineering.
  • Can be used directly for 3D printing