In aerospace composites manufacturing, it is increasingly common to use a CAD model of a part to define ply-definition data for both a laser projection system and a ply cutting machine. The projection dataset is 3D, whereas the cutting machine data is 2D. Yet they can both be derived from the same model.
Rough overview: Making a ply file for a projector
Comment: It's also possible to use a digitizing arm (PCMM) to create the point data set. Some collection software (ex: Suprastuff for Romer Arm) enable collection of a point and a normal vector. Using this method, one could reverse-engineer a physical ply layup template, and then use that data to program its replacement for a laser projector.
BAE Composite Structures