Best 3D Scanners for 2018

The usual applications of 3D scanners are found in the fields of engineering, design, and manufacturing. These devices are used to capture 3D models of objects, and later create high-quality images that can be immediately manipulated using an application, or can be printed using a 3D printer. Non-professionals also use 3D scanners to share images of objects to an online community. Paired with a 3D printer, a 3D scanner can easily replicate the object and edit the image before printing.

What to Look for in a 3D Scanner

A 3D scanner is defined by the quality of its scanner sensor which is used to capture points on an object’s surface. A good sensor will produce a highly accurate model. A lot of 3D scanners use a dual laser scanner feature to enhance the speed, accuracy and detail. Some use structured light, where light is projected onto an object’s surface to capture data points during scanning. The advantage of lasers is that they are found in more compact and portable 3D scanners, while structured light provides a more detailed scan.

Non-enterprise users often choose 3D scanners that are portable and can be used on the go. Professionals, on the other hand, often need 3D scanners that can provide high-resolution images with great detail. However, these scanners are usually bulky and stationary. It should be decided early on which feature would be the priority when looking for a 3D scanner. Although scanner sensor and portability are main considerations when buying a 3D scanner, there are still other features that might prove to be significantly useful to a user. Examples would be an editing software, software development kits, or other peripheral benefits. It would be advisable to carefully weigh the pros and cons of different 3D scanners before ultimately settling on one that will best provide the required output.

The following are different 3D scanner brands that are considered the best in their respective categories.

Best DIY 3D Scanner – XBox Kinect 3D Scanner

The Xbox Kinect is originally meant to be used as an accessory to improve gameplay. Thanks to 3 rd party software, it is now possible to also use it as an inexpensive 3D scanner. Many of these software are free, and they are worth trying out. DIY guides are also widely available, opening up many possibilities on how best to use the Kinect.

The Xbox Kinect is fitted with two cameras: one with 640×480 resolution, and the other with 320×240 resolution that is only infrared sensitive. Additionally, a tri-axial accelerometer in the Kinect, making it possible to detect vibrations and movements. The engine inside the device moves the sensors up and down, effectively following movements in its field of view.

These features, coupled with a 3 rd party software, can successfully utilize the Kinect as a 3D scanner.

– great for scanning bigger items
– inexpensive alternative to a real 3D scanner
– scanning is quick

– resolution of scan is not too good
– not ideal for small objects
– requires a bit of learning

Best DIY 3D Scanner Kit – BQ Ciclop

The BQ Ciclop is a DIY 3D laser scanner kit that operates on a fully open source platform—both electronics and software—under the GPL license. The electronics kit is comprised of a customized Arduino board and a Logitech webcam. The scanning suite is an open source multi-platform application called Horus. It is used as an interface for the 3D scanner, and allows the user to control the scanning components, calibrate the lasers, and give commands. The BQ Ciclop 3D scanner is meant to be assembled by hand, and is ideal for DIY-ers who prefer sourcing all the parts by themselves.

– open source
– affordable
– versatile

– takes time to assemble
– setup and calibration may be difficult
– some inconsistencies in the build quality of components

Best 3D Scanner for Mobile Devices – iSense 3D Scanner

The iSense 3D Scanner, which was developed by 3D systems, was created to be an attachment to iPad and iPhone units. Compared with the almost identical Structure Sensor 3D scanner, the iSense’s range of motion is greater by 0.5m. In fact, iSense has one of the largest scan volume ranges in its category.

The mobile app that comes with the scanner automatically detects the item for scanning, and ignores other objects. The iSense is There is a file editor that can optimize the model to be used for 3D printing. Any Cube 3D printer is compatible with iSense, and makes it simple to upload the captured 3D model and print it directy or through the cloud. The iSense scanner can be used for up to four hours straight, and even comes with its own battery. Truly ideal for those who prefer mobile 3D scanning.

– compact
– has own battery
– relatively low cost

– medium scan quality
– cannot be used as a standalone scanner
– only works with iPhone and iPad

Occipital Structure Sensor

The Occipital Structure Sensor is said to have been the first to create a multi-purpose portable 3D scanner that can be attached onto a mobile device. The scanner is most compatible with iPads and iPhones, but may be modified to fit other devices. It is ideal for larger scans and objects in an outdoor environment. A common application for the Occipital Structure Sensor is game designing. The scanner can also create high-quality 3D models that can later be used for printing.

The software that comes with the device is Structure SDK, and it offers low-level access for games, mixed reality development, and 3D mapping. Using apps that utilize SDK will improve the resolution further, and will give access to a number of app features.

– allows software developers to create apps
– easy to integrate with iPad
– compact

– ideal for software developers
– limited apps available
– cannot be used as a standalone device

Best Budget Portable 3D Scanner – Cubify Sense

The Cubify Sense is a handy 3D scanner that allows scanning on the go, and can send the captured image directy to a 3D printer. Editing may also be done using Cubify’s editing software. The scanner is capable of capturing high-resolution scans of both small and large objects, and can even isolate the object for scanning in a busy background. The Cubify Sense has lasers that can detect objects up to three meters away, and up to three meters tall and wide. The scanner has no batteries, and should be attached to a device installed with Cubify’s software via a USB cable.

– can scan large objects
– easy to operate
– inexpensive

– USB cable is short
– cannot scan very small objects
– objects need to be illuminated well

Best Budget Desktop 3D Scanner – Matter and Form

The Matter and Form 3D scanner may be affordable but it doesn’t fail to impress with its
first-rate features and high-definition scanning. Using a Z-axis design, models can be
captured hands-free, producing much better scan quality compared with handheld
scanners. The scanner is comprised of a moving camera head and a turntable that can
rotate 360-degrees. A complementary metal oxide semiconductor sensor is fitted in the 3D
laser scanner, effectively lowering the cost and power consumption of the device.
A dual laser camera head on a Z-axis enables the Matter and Form scanner to have a
0.25mm size and detail margin. Accurate scans can be captured in as short as 5 minutes,
with HD scans taking only about 10 minutes. The scanner is also portable and lightweight,
and comes with an integrated case.

– user-friendly
– scans can be saved in many formats
– compact

– detail loss can sometimes occur
– no built-in lighting
– shiny or translucent objects can confuse the scanner

Best All-in-One 3D Scanner – XYZprinting Da Vinci 1.0

Beginners will find the XYZpriting Da Vinci 1.0 simple to use with its plug-and-play feature and easy installation and calibration. It can scan and print items up to 8x8x8” in size. The software included with the scanner makes it possible to change the mode and speed of scanning. Printing with the Da Vinci 1.0 doesn’t take long, and models were printed accurately. Cleaning and maintenance is also effortless as the scanner already includes a self-cleaning feature. The scanner is perfect for school activities and other non-professional projects.

The Da Vinci 1.0 works quietly since the print area is enclosed. A beep is emitted when printing is done, or when input is needed on the screen. Cartridges may be purchased from XYZprinting, but filament refills are also available from other retailers.

– larger print platform than others in the same price range
– easy to use
– low maintenance

– must be connected to a computer
– print platform is not removable
– filaments can’t be changed during printing

Best Professional Portable 3D Scanner

Fuel3D Scanify

The Fuel3D Scanify 3D scanner is fitted with a dual-laser stereo camera that produces high- resolution images. It can capture a 3D image with a detail down to 0.25mm. Scans can be saved in several formats like PLY, STL, or OBJ. Editing can be done immediately using Scanify’s desktop application. The scanner is fully portable, making it easy to scan various objects in different distances. It is perfect for capturing fabrics, faces, and natural objects.

– great resolution
– scanning is quick
– easy to set up

– software can be complicated
– payment is need to unlock further software features
– scanner is not very effective when far from object

Artec Eva

This top-of-the-line 3D scanner has already gained esteem in a number of professional fields like medicine, aerospace, and animation. The Artec Eva is capable of capturing full-color 3D scan of objects at a high speed. Up to 2 million points may be recorded, and data may be exported to any 3 rd party 3D editing software. More than one Artec Evan may be set up at a time if larger objects need to be captured, and the scanners can be made to communicate with each other. The scanner doesn’t use lasers and may be used to scan people or animals without damaging the eyes. It is also compatible with tables, making it truly portable.

– scanning is quick
– color and texture can be captured
– built-in light source

– software is not free
– requires a powerful computer
– pricey

Best Value for Money 3D Desktop Scanner – DAVID Laserscanner – SLS2

Unlike scanners using the dual-laser system, the DAVID SLS-2 utilizes a technology that is dependent on a camera system with lighting to capture scans quickly. Precise scanning is achieved in just a few seconds with the structured light technology. An industrial camera and a video projector mounted on a sliding rail are used to capture a model. After calibration, a visible pattern will be projected onto the object, followed by the scan. Further scanning is performed in order to capture the model from different angles. A 360-degree representation of the object is produced by the included software. The DAVID SLS-2 is suitable for various fields like video games, video animation, 3D printing, and a lot more.

– large focus range
– easy to use
– detailed scans

– pure shiny objects cannot be scanned
– scan background should have no light reflections
– camera and projector should always be properly calibrated

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