A high resolution Amplitude Modulation Laser Radar (AM-LR) sensor has recently been developed, aimed at accurately reconstructing 3D digital models of real targets -- either single objects or complex scenes. The sensor sounding beam can be swept linearly across the object or circularly around it, by placing the object on a controlled rotation platform. Both intensity and phase shift of the back-scattered light are then collected and processed, providing respectively a shade-free photographic-like picture and accurate range data in the form of a range or depth image, with resolution depending mainly on the laser modulation frequency. Starting from the sample points, with an uncertainty that can be made as small as 100 μm, the complete object surface can be reconstructed by using specifically developed software tools. The system has been successfully applied to scan different types of real surfaces (stone, wood, bones) and is expected to have significant applications in industrial machining, artwork cataloguing and medical diagnostics. Examples of 3D reconstructions are presented and the relevance of this technology for reverse engineering applied to artwork restoration and conservation is briefly discussed.