3D Scanning Tips for Getting Accurate 3D Scans

Frustrated with poor quality 3D scans? The following 3D scanning tips will help to improve the quality of your scans, no matter your skill levels.

The quality of 3D scans of objects depends not only on the technical characteristics of the 3D scanner, but also on the ability to use it.

We’ve put together this quick guide to help you take your scanning technique to the next level. By following the tips below, you can digitize even the most complex and highly detailed objects of various sizes and shapes.

3D Scanning Tips for Beginners

1. Always calibrate

Always calibrate the 3D scanner before starting to work. To do this, you’ll need to use a special calibration panel.

2. Scanning moving parts

A common challenge you will face, even when using the most high-tech 3D scanners like Scantech AXE BII or Scantech iReal 2S, is scanning complex moving parts. An object with a large number of moving parts can be difficult to scan, even if you have experience with an advanced scanner.

To successfully scan such an object, we recommend that you start digitizing the object from the position in which all parts and moving elements are in their normal position. After that, disassemble the mechanism into its component parts and scan each of them separately. In this way, you will get a 3D model of the assembled mechanism, as well as all its constituent elements.

3d scanning moving parts

The CAD designer will have all the data required to recreate a 3D projection of even the most complex mechanism and understand all the nuances of its work.

3. Block all moving elements

The quality of 3D scans you will get largely depends on how static the digitized object is. Therefore, you should securely fix all moving parts before starting to work with the 3D scanner. This will minimize errors and help you get an accurate 3D copy for subsequent processing in CAD and printing on a home or industrial 3D printer.

4. Consider the texture of the object

The nature of the surface of an object is important when looking to scan a 3D copy of it. Even the best 3D scanners have difficulty capturing specular or porous surfaces. To avoid such difficulties, it is recommended to glue such surfaces with a thin masking tape.

5. Use masking tape when scanning large objects

To accurately capture markers from large objects, apply them to masking tape. This simple procedure will make scanning easier and more accurate.

6. Use an optional mat for scanning thin-walled objects

To digitize an object with thin walls, use an additional matte. The matter should be placed in such a way that the 3D scanner can capture markers from each side. In turn, the marks on the main substrate can act as a reference grid.

7. Scan medium to large objects from the center

If the size of the object is 2-3 the volume captured by the scanner, you need to start scanning from the center. The 3D model will then be more accurate. Moreover, the scanning process will take less time.

8. Do not move objects with variable geometry

When scanning using 3D scanner, only objects with fixed geometry can be moved. If you want to move an object with variable geometry, make sure all elements are securely fixed before you start moving.

9. Apply more markers to segments with complex geometry

If there are many teeth, depressions, and elevation differences on the scanned object, stick more markers so that the 3D scanner can accurately capture all surfaces.

10. Stick markers on straight segments

When applying markers, make sure they do not wrinkle or bend. All markers must be applied evenly and without going over nearby surfaces. If the angle of the surface changes, use a different marker line. Ensure that one tape does not change the angle during the application. There should be no bends.

11. Prepare reflective or black segments thoroughly

All deep dark shades as well as reflective surfaces must be carefully matted. For this, you will need to use a special spray, which can be easily removed with an alcohol napkin when the scanning is complete.

12. Use the attachment frame to scan small items

A 3D scanner cannot always accurately capture details and understand the position of small objects. To address this issues, 3D scanner manufacturers recommend using a special accessory – a mounting frame with pins.

Markers are glued to the frame along the perimeter, and the pins hold the small elements in a fixed position. In this way, the 3D scanner “understands” their position, and the resulting digitization accuracy is sufficient for processing in CAD. The 3D scan can then be further 3D printed using PLA or ABS plastic.

13. Digitize groups of small details

If you need to scan a group of small objects, place them a short distance apart and make sure the surfaces do not overlap. This way, the 3D scanner will be able to digitize a whole group of elements in one go.

14. Install the right light

It is important to install the right light if you are digitizing an object with a complex multi-colored texture. Correctly directing light will allow you to convey all the nuances of the surface in as much detail as possible and accurately reproduce colors.

15. Check your field of view

When using a rotating stage, make sure that the object you are scanning is completely within the field of view of the 3D scanner. Also, when rotated around its axis, none of the object’s elements should go out of view of the cameras.

16. Use a stand

To make it easy to clean unnecessary details from the resulting 3D model (e.g. elements of the texture of the shelf or table on which it is installed), use a special stand. This will remove parasitic geometry in no time.

3d scanner on a stand

17. Use plasticine to apply markers

Some 3D scanners are poor at digitizing symmetrical objects. To make it easier for the equipment, add additional geometry using plasticine and glue markers on top.

18. Fix the object with foam rubber

When scanning unstable objects that cannot be set upright, use a thick piece of foam. Make a small cut in it with a clerical knife and insert the edge of the scanned object into it.

19. Make the backing yourself

If you do not want to purchase a substrate, you can make one yourself. If done correctly, the 3D scanner will work properly and will not notice any difference. The main thing is to choose a solid material and make sure that all markers are securely fixed.

20. Scan small items by placing them on a plasticine “mushroom”

If you need to scan a very small item, such as a coin or brooch, make a small plasticine stand and place the item on top of it. The 3D scanner will capture such a “mushroom” as a single element, but the scanner software can easily separate the one-color plasticine from the scanned object.

21. Rely on the geometry of the object to determine the alignment method

If the geometry of the object is readable, the 3D scanner will have no problem capturing it. However, if moth-eye segments are dominant, manual alignment will be the way to go.

22. Choose DirectX format

The universal DirectX format is the most preferable for saving data after stitching all segments obtained by a 3D scanner.

23. Remove unnecessary objects

A 3D scanner cannot distinguish between the target object and the substrate. Therefore, it will scan the entire area. Unnecessary objects often fall into the area scanned. The items can cause errors during the gluing process. Therefore, to make your work easier, it is better to remove the unnecessary objects in specialized software immediately after scanning.

24. Compare step size to file size

When choosing a step, consider the size of the scanned object. If the object is too large, a small step size will lead to a significant increase in the size of the file containing the 3D model.

25. Scan large objects step by step

When digitizing very large objects, break down the process into several steps. This will speed up the procedure and simplify the subsequent gluing and processing.

26.Return to the calibration field by pressing Alt + E

If you accidentally hit the 3D scanner and are worried that this could lead to its displacement, return to the calibration field by simultaneously pressing Alt + E. If the detected error turned out to be too large, it makes sense to recalibrate.

27. Use measuring instruments

Not all 3D scanners can cope with capturing hard-to-reach segments, such as deep recesses. In this regard, it can be difficult to process a model in CAD and 3D print it from ABS or PLA plastic.

To reproduce the geometry of the object more accurately , use classic measuring instruments to measure hard-to-reach segments. For example, you can use a caliper to measure deep recesses of the object.

measuring an item to be 3d scanned

28. Consider the field of view of two cameras

When placing the object, make sure that both cameras of the 3D scanner can see the segment being scanned.

29. Maintain the same conditions

Changes in lighting and even temperature in the scanning room can interfere with the operation of the 3D scanner. For accurate 3D scans, maintain the same conditions throughout the procedure.

30. Protect the 3D scanner from vibration

Before starting the 3D scanning process, make sure your room is vibration-free. Even a tram passing under a window can distort the results by transmitting vibration to the equipment and the object it is scanning.

Following the above 3D scanning tips will go a long way in ensuring you end up with accurate 3D scans of any objects you want to 3D print.

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