Aug 3, 2016 | By Benedict

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) is using a 300,000 NZD (214,000 USD) 3D scanner to measure troops. The Human Solutions Vitus XXL 3D scanner has been in operation for around 18 months, and can take a person’s full measurements in just 10 seconds.

New Zealanders are known for their size—just ask anyone who has faced the notorious “All Blacks” rugby team and lived to tell the tale. Naturally, that physical presence can also be seen in the country’s military, with the New Zealand Defence Force thought to be one of the tallest armed forces in the world. Because of this, the Kiwis cannot always rely on body-size data they receive from their Five Eyes allies—the comparably short Australia, Canada, UK, and USA.

Despite problems associated with uniform sizing, the 3D scanner is not yet being used to equip troops. Instead, it is being used to carry out a massive anthropometric study, collecting the measurements of 1,100 defense personnel to see if the rumors about their larger size are really true, also helping staff to decide which soldiers are best suited to its limited-headroom helicopters. Eventually, however, 3D scanning technology could be used across the board to fit troops for boots, uniforms, and equipment.

“The diversity of personnel in New Zealand is much different to that of other Defence Forces, and this new data allows [us] to make more informed decisions going forward,” said group director Andy Richardson who is responsible for human systems at NZDF. “For example, the RNZAF rotary wing platforms [helicopters] cannot physically accommodate every possible size of flight crew. This is typically due to one or two specific body dimensions being too big or small, such as arm length being too long, preventing full range of motion of controls.”

The NZDF last carried out a major body-size study in 1965, when it manually measured the limbs of 458 Air Force personnel using tape measures and skin-fold calipers. This relatively inefficient procedure took the anthropometrist around one hour per subject. Using the 3D scanner, on the other hand, has been incredibly fast. The NZDF’s Vitus XXL scanner, named after a Sicilian saint and made by German company Human Solutions, captures body measurements with a ±1 mm level of accuracy in just 10 seconds. The machine stands over two meters tall.

To obtain accurate measurements from the military subjects, the NZDF requires candidates to strip down to skintight underwear, after which the 3D scanner is fired up and performs a full scan. A second scan is also taken with the subject in full kit. The scanner’s red lasers pass up and down the subject until a complete 3D image is obtained, with measurements automatically calculated to give the anthropometrists the information they need.

New Zealand has 14,277 defense personnel in its army, navy, and air force. By performing studies such as this one, the NZDF becomes better prepared to deal with future challenges. “The data we collect now and in the future allows us to understand how the size and shape of our Defence Force personnel is changing over time, and will enable us to make better-informed capability management decisions regarding future acquisitions," Richardson said.



Posted in 3D Scanning



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