Image Credit: SHINPANU/

As technology advances around the world, the Air Force continues to fly to new heights. The future is now and Mountain Home Air Force Base is bringing it faster with the HandySCAN 3D, a hand-held 3D scanner.

The 366th Maintenance Squadron acquired the device in October 2019 and began training Airmen on the most efficient ways to use the scanner. The device allows Airmen to scan a structure, eliminating the need to hand-draw the structure on the computer.

“We can take an aircraft part, either on or off the aircraft, and scan it with this portable scanner,” said Tech. Sgt. Kevin Collins, 366th MXS aircraft metals technology section chief. “Once we scan it, we now have an image pulled up on the computer without needing a blueprint.”

From the computer, the image is then transferred to the machine that cuts the metal.
What used to take anywhere from five to ten hours of computer time now takes less than an hour.

“It’s a huge time saver which ultimately saves the Air Force money,” Collins said. “The faster we can get these parts made, the faster the jet can be back up in the air.”

Before the scanner, Airmen used a facsimile mold to fix a broken aircraft piece or recreate a structure.

“You take this putty, mold it to the structure and wait for it to dry,” Collins said. “When it is done drying, you take it out and still have to go in and measure everything and hand draw it on the computer. It was so time-consuming.”

Airman 1st Class Luke Haener, 366th MXS aircraft metals technology craftsman has been using the HandySCAN 3D since it arrived.

“We use it for the complex pieces that aren’t as easy to measure and would normally take much longer,” Haener said. “It can be used for small pieces but it really comes in handy for those giant structures.”

Collins also explained that the HandySCAN 3D has a stronger ability to get into the nooks and crannies of a structure.

“With the facsimile, it was not very accurate sometimes, so occasionally we would have to remake the piece several times over to make it fit,” Collins said. “With the scanner, we never run into that issue. In fact, it’s accurate up to about .025mm.”

The HandySCAN 3D offers simplicity and efficiency allows Airmen to work at a fast pace, resulting in making them more mission ready. This technology is one way Mountain Home AFB is leading the way through efficiency, innovation, and accuracy.


Learn more about the HandySCAN 3D