Simply put, 3D laser scanning is a fast and accurate method of putting physical measurements of an object onto the computer in an organized manner, resulting in what is commonly called 3D scan data. Typically, the 3D scan data is represented with a scale digital model or a 3D graphical rendering. Once the scan data is on the computer, all of the dimensions of the physical object can be taken, such as length, width, height, volume, feature size, feature location, surface area, etc.
3D scan data is often used as a bridge between physical objects and modern manufacturing. This is achieved by converting the data into computer-aided design (CAD) models, using it to compare against the "as-designed" ideal of the part, or using it in the seemingly infinite number of computer-aided engineering (CAE) tools available.