Best 3D Scanners

Similar to 3D printers, 3D scanners are becoming increasingly popular on the market. But with the wide array of options available, which one should you buy? Read our guide to find the best 3D scanner for you.

A 3D scanner can be used to create a 3D model of an object, which can then be printed on a 3D printer. When looking for a 3D scanner, you will find both entry-level options for consumers and hobbyists and more power machines for industrial applications.

Industrial 3D scanners have better software and workflows. Moreover, some of them can handle advanced tasks like reverse engineering and quality control.

In this guide, we present the best 3D scanners for all budgets. Read on to find out which machine will be perfect for the particular tasks you will be doing

Best 3D Scanners

The 3D scanner market is large and diverse. As a result, there are many scanners, which come in all shapes, sizes, functionality and prices. In this guide of the best 3D scanners, we’ll look at the machines recommended for DIY hobbyists, professionals, and industrial consumers.

Whether you are looking for a perfect entry-level scanner suitable for home or hobby use, a device with more functional software and efficient processes, or an industrial 3D scanner that can handle complex tasks such as quality control, reverse engineering or metrology, you’ll find a scanner below that suits your tasks and budget.

In this review, we selected the scanners based on their unique features, technology, price, or a combination of these factors. We’ve covered the entire spectrum, from highly affordable consumer devices to those suitable for small businesses.

The 3D scanners listed below are grouped by the areas of application they are most suitable for. If you already have an idea of what you will be using your scanner for, you can skip to the appropriate section.

Which 3D Scanner Are You Looking For?

  • Consumer and Hobbyists 3D Scanners
  • Professional 3D Scanners
  • Industrial 3D Scanners

Best 3D Scanners Comparison Table

Product Type Technology OS Compatibility Price
Ciclop Stationary / DIY Laser triangulation Windows, Mac, Linux PRICE
Murobo Atlas Stationary / DIY Laser triangulation Windows, Mac, Linux (all through the browser) PRICE
Occipital Structure Sensor (Mark II) Manual Structured light iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, Linux PRICE
Scan Dimension Sol Stationary Laser triangulation Windows 10 / Mac OS X 10.14 PRICE
HP Z 3D Camera Stationary Stationary SLAM Alignment Windows PRICE
Matter and Form 3D Scanner V2 Stationary Laser triangulation Windows 7/10 (x64), Mac PRICE
Shining 3D EinScan SE Stationary Structured light Windows 7/10 (x64), Mac (Beta) PRICE
HP Structured Light Scanner Pro S3 Stationary Structured light Windows PRICE
Shining 3D EinScan Pro / Pro + Manual / stationary White light Windows 7/10 (x64) PRICE
Open Technologies Scan in a Box-FX Stationary Structured light Windows PRICE
Peel 3D Peel 1 Manual Structured light Windows 7/10 (x64) PRICE
Metron E 3D Scanner Stationary Structured light Windows 7/10 (x64) PRICE
Shining 3D EinScan Pro 2X Manual Structured light Windows 7/10 (x64) PRICE
Shining 3D EinScan Pro 2X Plus Manual Structured light Windows 7/10 (x64) PRICE
Peel 3D Peel 2 Manual Structured light Windows 7/10 (x64) PRICE
Artec Eva Lite Manual Structured light Windows 7/10 (x64) PRICE
Artec Eva Manual Structured light Windows 7/10 (x64) PRICE
Artec Space Spider Manual Structured light Windows 7/10 (x64) PRICE
Artec Leo Manual Structured light Windows 7/10 (x64) PRICE
Creaform Go! Scan Spark Manual Structured light Windows 7/10 (x64) PRICE

Consumer and Hobbyist 3D Scanners

Whether you want to get started with 3D scanning or are lookin for a device more advanced for learning or creativity, the 3D scanners in this section will meet all your requirements. Most of the scanners cost less than $1,000.

From cheap, DIY scanners to more advanced, ready-to-go 3D scanners, these are the best 3D scanners for home and hobby users.

1. Ciclop
Best 3D Scanners 1


Product Ciclop
Type Stationary / DIY kit
Technology Laser triangulation
OS compatibility Windows, Mac, Linux

Released and until recently maintained by BQ, the Ciclop DIY 3D Scanning Kit is a fully open source project released under the GPL license.

Following the RepRap philosophy, many Ciclop components are 3D printed. The electronic components of this 3D scanner can be purchased as a kit. The components mainly consist of a customized Arduino board and a Logitech webcam.

The processing of the data captured by this 3D laser scanner is performed by a dedicated Horus scanning kit that is also open source.

While cheap, this device is not easy to assemble. BQ acknowledges the difficulties in setting up and calibrating the 3D scanner. There are also issues with the quality (accuracy) of its individual components.

You can find files for 3D printing the device’s components on GitHub. However, the official bundle specification and assembly instructions are no longer available on the Diwo.BQ website. Therefore, assembling this device may take some effort and you will need to research well to find suitable solutions.

In terms of open source and usability, the Ciclop 3D scanner is one of the best options on the market. However, getting it to work can be a real challenge, which, on the other hand, is half the fun of projects like this. Assembling the 3D scanner will be a wonderful self-study experience.

Since Ciclop is open source, there are several other companies that sell kits based on it. Therefore, the Ciclop lives on, albeit under different names. Such kits may be of different qualities. Before buying, find out more about the kit and the manufacturer.

Expert Comment: For a couple of years, almost nothing has been heard about 3D equipment from the Spanish company BQ. Soon, only owners of the rare BQ Hephestos and BQ Witbox will remember the company’s existence in the 3D equipment market.

The BQ Ciclop scanner has disappeared on the market for several reasons. For example, educational institutions find it more convenient to use factory-assembled 3D scanners. Some of the 3D scanners that recommended for educational institutions include Shining Einscan SE and RangeVision Neo.

Best 3D Scanners 2
3D scanner EinScan-SE


Best 3D Scanners 3
RangeVision NEO


DIY 3D scanners like the Ciclop 3D require more involvement and participation in the production of a project than out-of-the-box scanners.

2. Murobo Atlas

Best 3D Scanners 4

Product Murobo Atlas
Type Stationary / DIY kit
Technology Laser triangulation
OS Compatibility Windows, Mac, Linux (all via a web browser)

The Murobo Atlas 3D Scanner is a scanner assembly kit that you create from scratch. The assembly process includes 3D printing the main frame. An optional acrylic frame is also available for purchase as an add-on to the kit.

If you already have a Raspberry Pi microcomputer controller to install inside the scanner, you will only spend $209 on the scanner. If not, the kit that includes the Raspberry Pi 2 costs $244. There is also an option that comes with the Raspberry Pi B+. This kit is available for $229.

The Raspberry Pi camera is compatible with Atlas 3D scanner and produces crisp 3D scans that include texture. Like other DIY 3D scanner kits, Atlas comes with its own FreeLSS software. Among DIY scanners, Atlas stands out for its ease of use. The device is controlled through your browser using the built-in Wi-Fi adapter.

Expert Comment: For DIY makers, this scanner is interesting because it is available in different configurations. You can buy it with or without a frame, and with or without a Raspberry computer. Therefore, you can omit unnecessary components, which is not possible with the BQ Ciclop scanner.

3. Occipital Structure Sensor (Mark II)

Best 3D Scanners 5

Product Occipital Structure Sensor (Mark II)
Type Manual
Technology Structured lighting
OS Compatibility iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, Linux

Occipital Structure Sensor (Mark II) is a multifunctional handheld 3D scanner with a wide range of possible applications. Unlike its predecessor, the Mark II is compatible with the new iPad. Therefore, it easy to dock. Moreover, it is smaller and much more powerful.

The product weighs 65g compared to 95g of the older version. There is also a built-in monochrome camera with a 160° ultra-wide-angle lens. This scanner boasts a higher depth resolution, and can be used both indoors and outdoors.

The Mark II retails for $699. However, if you live in the US and have an old Structure Sensor scanner, the company will swap it out for a new one for a $100 discount. Occipital also offers a $100 add-on kit that includes a wide-angle lens, Skanect Pro professional 3D scanning software, and free US shipping.

The software provided by the manufacturer is called the Structure SDK. This software offers high-level developer tools and full low-level access for mixed reality game and application development, and 3D mapping. In addition, the device can be used to create high-quality 3D models of objects for various purposes, including for 3D printing.

Although this 3D scanning device was originally designed as an add-on for use with iPad and iPhone, the company offers hacky guides to get around any obstacles that might prevent you from using it on other platforms such as Windows or Linux.

Expert Comment: The device could be a good accessory for designers and 3D visualizers. However, its functionality is being actively replaced by software that allows you to create models from photographs. For example, ReCap 360, 123D Catch and ReMake allow you to get models, albeit of a slightly worse quality, using only a mobile phone camera.

Occipital Structure Sensor (Mark II) has not gained wide acceptance among users. Moreover, the company is looking for related applications for its technologies in the field of computer vision and augmented reality.

4. Scan Dimension Sol

Best 3D Scanners 6


Product Scan Dimension Sol
Type Stationary
Technology Laser triangulation
OS compatibility Windows 10 / Mac OS X 10.14

The Scan Dimension Sol was created to be an accurate, portable, easy-to-use and affordable 3D scanner. The device is aimed at hobbyists, craftsmen and entrepreneurs.

The 3D Scanner is suitable for a variety of tasks, from replacing or matching broken parts to creating replicas of unique objects. With it, you can scan both the geometry of objects and their texture.

Expert Comment: This scanner has nearly the same features as the EinScan-SE, EinScan-SP , and RV NEO.

5. HP Z 3D Camera

Best 3D Scanners 7


Product HP Z 3D Camera
Type Stationary
Technology SLAM merge
OS compatibility Windows

The HP Z 3D Camera debuted at CES 2018. Positioned as a much more affordable alternative to the Sprout Pro 3D camera, the Z is a portable option that can be connected to most monitors.

The HP Z 3D camera has many of Sprout Pro’s features. For example, it can capture and digitize 3D objects, 2D documents and live video. However, the product lacks some useful features such as projection and multi-touch capabilities.

This 3D scanner uses SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Display) technology to track, scan, and build a 3D model in real time. The result is high-resolution, CG-friendly images that can be used for various 3D and VR applications.

Using a 3D camera with a depth sensor and a 14.6MP 2D camera, users can scan an object by simply rotating it in their hands and placing it under the camera. Captured 3D objects can be exported directly to PowerPoint 3D, Paint 3D, and Mixed Reality Viewer.

According to the manufacturer, this affordable 3D scanning application was designed to be easy-to-use for traditional and computer graphics artists, designers and game developers.

Expert Comment: HP saw great potential in 3D technologies as is evident with the purchase of David, the release of Z and Sprout, and the release of a number of 3D printers. The company has built up its competence and studied the points of application of the technology.

The idea of the HP Z 3D Scanner is interesting. However, it’s only suitable for a few consumers. Moreover, the scanner is quite demanding on the hardware and working conditions.

Best Budget 3D Scanners

1. Matter and Form 3D Scanner V2

Best 3D Scanners 8


Product Matter and Form 3D Scanner V2
Type Stationary
Technology Laser triangulation
OS Compatibility Windows 7/10 (x64), Mac

The Matter and Form V2 3D scanner is the successor to the Matter and Form V1. This 3D scanner is built on the same hardware as the V1, but offers greater usability. Think of it as an optimized version of V1, which (when using current software) provides great functionality for its price.

Bundled with the new MFStudio software, Matter and Form V2 captures geometry faster than before using the + QuickScan software update.

As with version 1, the USB connection to your computer makes the Matter and Form V2 literally a desktop scanner. Also, its form factor allows it to be conveniently folded and carried.

Expert Comments: There are two things that can be said about the Matter and Form 3D Scanner V2; easy to use and convenient to store.

With a flick of your hand, the black suitcase turns into a portable 3D scanner. The device is well-designed, save for the wires and the power supply that are outside.

2. Shining 3D EinScan SE

Best 3D Scanners 9


Product Shining 3D EinScan SE
Type Stationary
Technology Structured lighting
OS Compatibility Windows 7/10 (x64), Mac (Beta)

The Einscan-SE is the successor of the Einscan S. This 3D scanner is a well-designed starter kit for beginners and educators getting started with 3D scanning and want quality scans without a hassle.

EinScan-SE is mainly focused on players in the education field. The scanner’s software automates the 3D scanning and CAD model creation process. This makes the unit excellent for beginners. The program can also create meshes of objects, making them suitable for 3D printing.

With both fixed and auto scan modes, the SE 3D scanner boasts a maximum accuracy of less than 100 microns for a single pass.

For a more advanced scanner that is faster and more accurate, consider purchasing the Shining 3D EinScan SP.

Expert Comments: This bestseller scanner stands out for its convenience, simplicity, reliability and affordability.

Another scanner from Shining that you ay want to try is the Shining 3D Einscan Pro 2X

Professional 3D Scanners

If you are looking for professional 3D scanners with efficient workflows and powerful software, the devices in this section will be perfect for you. These scanners provide high accuracy combined with proven processes and the necessary software.

Most professional 3D scanners are suitable for applications such as virtual reality, person scanning, and object scanning. For more advanced applications such as quality control, reverse engineering, and product inspection, you’ll want to check the industrial 3D scanners further down this article

1. HP Structured Light Scanner Pro S3

Best 3D Scanners 10


Product HP Structured Light Scanner Pro S3
Type Stationary
Technology Structured lighting
OS Compatibility Windows

The HP Structured Light Scanner Pro S3, formerly known as David SLS-3, uses structured light to capture objects. The scanner has an industrial-grade HD camera that ensures you get high quality results.

Despite being stationary, which may be an inconvenient limitation, the S3 boasts modular expansion. Therefore, you can install a second camera for better accuracy.

The S3 is available as a complete package with two industrial-grade cameras. While costing close to the top of the range scanners in its class, the unit stands out for its modularity and high quality results.

Expert Comment: The HP Structured Light Scanner Pro S3 is a top of the range 3D scanner for professionals. Other competitors with the same features and in a similar price range are the RangeVision Spectrum and the RangeVision Neo .

Best 3D Scanners 11
RangeVision Spectrum


2. Shining 3D EinScan Pro / Pro +

Best 3D Scanners 12


Product Shining 3D EinScan Pro / Pro +
Type Portable / Stationary
Technology White lighting
OS Compatibility Windows 7-10 (x64)

EinScan-Pro and EinScan-Pro+ are versatile 3D scanners that can capture both large and small objects. You can use either of the 3D scanners as stationary or handheld units. Both of the two scanners have fast scan mode and high resolution mode. Therefore, they are perfect for a wide variety of 3D scanning tasks.

The EinScan-Pro series uses white light 3D scanning technology for high accuracy and speed. This professional system can provide good color texture capture for 0.03 mm to 4 meters objects.

While there is a Shining 3D Pro 2X line, the original Pro models still offer excellent quality for their price. The only difference between then and the new models is slightly lower speed and performance.

Expert Commentary: For a long time, Artec brand was the leader in the segment of portable 3D scanners. However, of late, the Einscan Pro personal scanners have been putting a challenging fight. The scanners are used in architecture and sculpture, auto repair, education, museum business and many other areas.

The Einscan Pro line of scanners has gone through several generations; Pro, Pro Plus, Pro 2X, and Pro 2X Plus. There are also new models from Einscan; Shining 3D Einscan H and Shining 3D Einscan HX scanner.

Einscan scanners are an excellent solution for a wide range of tasks and different budgets.

Best 3D Scanners 13

EinScan H and EinScan HX

3. Open Technologies Scan in a Box-FX

Best 3D Scanners 14

Product Open Technologies Scan in a Box-FX
Type Stationary
Technology Structured lighting
OS Compatibility Windows

Made in Italy, Open Technologies’ Scan In a Box-FX (SIAB-FX) is a portable professional 3D scanner with good modular features. The system uses premium structured lighting technology and has been upgraded from its base configuration. This 3D scanner comes with a HD 450 Lumens projector (from DELL), which provides better brightness and color rendering for captured objects.

The SIAB-FX can capture a wide variety of objects ranging from 10 mm to 3000 mm. The scanner features new and improved curved cameras and an updated video projector mount for increased strength and durability.

One of the things that make this scanner stand out is the accompanying processing software. The software has new features such as direct object alignment, stable scan mode, polygon splitting, among others.

Priced at just over $5,000, this professional-grade scanner is best suited for applications such as cultural conservation, design research, and reverse engineering.

Expert Comment: This is a well-made 3D scanner that has a user-friendly software. Good, affordable alternative to this scanner are the RangeVision Spectrum and the RangeVision Neo.

4. Peel 3D Peel 1

Best 3D Scanners 15


Product Peel 3D Peel 1
Type of Manual
Technology Structured lighting
OS compatibility Windows 7/10 (x64)

The Peel 1 3D scanner offers the perfect balance between professional capability and affordability. This 3D scanner boasts of some interesting features that other devices in the same price range lack. For example, it can accurately scan flat or shiny surfaces.

This banana-like device uses sticky targets to adequately grip flat and smooth surfaces. For typical 3D scanning scenarios, using the machine is easy. Simply point the scanner at an object and shoot. No special preparation is required.

The Peel 3D scanner uses an LED system to create structured lighting. Therefore, it is safer to use than laser systems. When used with stickers, Peel 3D can achieve a scanning accuracy of 0.25 mm and a volumetric accuracy of 0.5 mm. While the base resolution of 0.5mm isn’t impressive compared to other models, it’s the sacrifice that comes with a lower price.

Expert Comment: This is a budget 3D scanner from Creaform. The unit is a good technological solution and comes with a convenient software.

With the Peel 1 starter model, you get the same level of comfort and quality as owners of professional metrology scanners from Creaform. Educational institutions can get the scanner together with licensed software for reverse engineering and geometry control.

5. Metron E 3D Scanner
Best 3D Scanners 16

Product Metron E 3D Scanner
Type Stationary
Technology Structured lighting
OS Compatibility Windows 7/10 (x64)

Looking for a standalone professional 3D scanner that is easy to use? Get the new Metron E. This ready-to-use, high-precision 3D scanner is available in both standard and HD versions.

The Metron 3D scanner produces high-resolution scans (about 4.9 million data points with 25 micron precision for an HD model) in just 1 second of scan. The device comes with proprietary FlexScan3D scanning software that is tuned to simplify the scanning process. The software automates basic tasks, allowing you not to focus on routine work. However, pay attention to more interesting steps of the process, such as live preview.

One of the coolest features of the Metron E is the ability to daisy-chain multiple scanners to provide a much larger field of view, The coordination and handling of this configuration is also done naturally with FlexScan3D.

The price of the base Metron E model starts at $5,990, This is an average price for a professional scanner of this caliber.

Expert Comments: This is another 3D scanner assembled according to a standard scheme – a projector and cameras mounted on a module fixed on a tripod. This scanner is made in the United States.

6. Shining 3D EinScan Pro 2X

Best 3D Scanners 17

Product Shining 3D EinScan Pro 2X
Type Manual
Technology Structured lighting
OS Compatibility Windows 7/10 (x64)

Shining 3D Pro 2X is a new and improved version of the EinScan Pro. This is a lightweight and compact 3D scanner designed for professional use. The scanner can capture small to medium sized objects at incredibly fast speeds without compromising on quality.

EinScan Pro 2X offers four different 3D scanning modes: manual fast scan mode, manual HD scan mode and fixed scan mode (with or without turntable).

In manual fast scan mode, the unit can process up to 1,500,000 points per second (30 frames per second). Although the manual HD scan mode is slightly slower, it delivers flawless scan accuracy down to 0.05mm.

For both manual modes, volumetric accuracy can be improved by using markers on the objects you plan to scan. When using manual modes, the minimum dot spacing is up to 0.2 mm, which allows high-resolution 3D data.

The improved version of the Pro 2X, called EinScan Pro 2X Plus , boasts faster scan speeds, expanded single scan sizes, and increased dot spacing and working distance. The accuracy is claimed to be at the same level, while offering much more flexibility. However, for the improved capability, you will pay $2000 more than for the 2X.

You can also buy the original EinScan Pro, which captures fewer data points and is slower. However, it costs significantly less than the newer models.

7. Shining 3D EinScan Pro 2X Plus

Best 3D Scanners 18

Product Shining 3D EinScan Pro 2X Plus
Type Manual
Technology Structured lighting
OS Compatibility Windows 7/10 (x64)

The Shining 3D Pro 2X Plus is an enhanced version of the Pro 2X 3D scanner. This device offers improved performance in several areas, including scanning speed and accuracy.

The 2X Plus offers faster scan speed and accuracy for both manual HD (1,100,000 dots/s) and fixed scan (single scan in less than 0.5 s). The unit has a larger single scan size, increased spacing and working distance. Therefore, it is slightly more versatile than the base 2X model. According to the specification, the scanning accuracy and volumetric accuracy of both scanner models are the same.

Unlike the base model, the 2X Plus offers an increased depth of field. This improves scanning speed and overall usability. This high-end 3D scanner, worth approximately $7,000, is designed for professional use. The unit is recommended for application in areas such as scientific research, design and preservation of cultural sites, and construction and health care.

Expert Comments: The Einscan line of scanners tries to cover all tasks that a potential consumer may face. Unlike Artec, Calibry, and other competitors, the Einscan Pro 2X line of scanners is probably the only one where the complete set of the scanner with all kinds of options and accessories is 3 times more expensive than the base model.

8. Peel 3D Peel 2

Best 3D Scanners 19

Product Peel 3D Peel 2
Type Manual
Technology Structured lighting
OS Compatibility Windows 7/10 (x64)

The Peel 3D scanner from Peel 3D has a striking design similar to the Peel 1. However, unlike the Peel 1, this model offers a full set of capabilities, including three cameras to capture both object geometry and texture. The software has also been improved to make scanning easier and more accurate.

The Peel 3D scanner has been significantly upgraded. However, its price is still below the $10,000 mark (check current price).

The Peel 2 can sense the texture or color of an object. This feature expands the scanner’s applications and fans of the original Peel 1 will love it. This scanner is perfect for aspiring 3D scanning enthusiasts, artists, and healthcare professionals.

Expert Comment: For its budget line of 3D scanners, Creaform unveiled Peel in two models – with and without texture capture support. The Peel 2 has all the advantages of Peel 1. The scanner can be positioned not only by geometry and marks, but also by texture. This significantly expands the range of its application and tasks.

9. Artec Eva Lite

Best 3D Scanners 20

Product Artec Eva Lite
Type Manual
Technology Structured lighting
OS Compatibility Windows 7/10 (x64)

Artec Eva Lite is an Artec Eva with disabled texture scanning capabilities. This may sound like a disadvantage to some people. However, it is actually a good offer from Eva to make high quality geometry capture functions available to those who need them.

This modification resulted in a handheld 3D scanner suitable for capturing geometrically complex objects (such as the human body for medicine) without using too much computing power (since there is no texture data to process).

If you don’t need texture scanning, you are getting the same quality Eva product at a significantly reduced price. Moreover, if you ever change your mind and decide that you really need texture scanning, there is an easy fix; just pay the difference between Eva and Eva Lite and Artec will unlock texture scanning capabilities.

Expert Comment: Artec was once a leader in the portable 3D scanners segment. From a hardware point of view, the Artec Eva Lite scanner is outdated and overpriced in value. Shining 3D 3D scanners are more affordable and have a larger set of functions. The same also applies to Creaform scanners, i.e., the Peel models.

Industrial 3D Scanners

If you’re looking for a scanner that’s suitable for industrial applications (reverse engineering, prototyping, virtual reality, quality control, digital archiving, inspection and maintenance, etc.) the following devices do this job well. The 3D scanners come with powerful software.

The industrial 3D scanners below are used in a variety of industries including defense, manufacturing, aerospace, automotive, and consumer goods.

1. Artec Eva
Best 3D Scanners 21

Product Artec Eva
Type Manual
Technology Structured lighting
OS Compatibility Windows 7/10 (x64)

Artec Eva is one of the best handheld 3D scanners on the market. The machine is used in almost every field of work imaginable, from aerospace to orthopedics. This device is especially suited for working with medium-sized objects (including busts). It captures accurate, full-color scans quickly and reliably.

To speed up or improve the process, you can set more than one Artec 3D scanner to work together. This is an expensive solution, but it makes the device even more versatile.

The scanner uses structured lighting canning technology. Therefore, it is safe for scanning humans and animals. No calibration or warm-up is required. Also, the scanner is mobile and hence works with laptops and tablets.

However, the proprietary editing software (Artec Studio) that works with Arctec Eva is not free. Moreover, it does not come with the 3D scanner. However, if Artec Studio is not for you, you can process the scans with any third-party software using the export data from a 3D scanner.

Expert Comment: This scanner is like the Eva Lite, but with the unlocked ability to capture textures. The scanner is obsolete, expensive, and heavy. Therefore, we do not recommend this scanner when there are better options on the market.

The Artec Eva was good device in 2014, but not this year. Moreover, you will struggle with your operations given that the unit weighs almost 1 kg.

2. Artec Space Spider
Best 3D Scanners 22

Product Artec Space Spider
Type Manual
Technology Structured lighting
OS Compatibility Windows 7/10 (x64)

At the high end of the 3D scanner spectrum is Artec Space Spider. This 3D scanner uses blue light technology to capture everything, from small complex objects to large details, in high resolution. Priced at just under $ 25,000, this industrial system generates 3D models with the highest accuracy and vibrant colors.

An enhanced version of the original Artec Spider scanner, this industrial scanner is designed for advanced CAD users who require high precision for applications such as reverse engineering, additive manufacturing, quality control, and mass production. The device can handle features of objects that other scanners cannot handle, such as sharp edges and thin edges.

What makes it special: This device offers the quality of premium stationary scanners while remaining a handheld device.

Expert Comment: This unit is a peer of Artec Eva. Eva was designed for medium sized objects, and Spyder for small scanned objects.

The Spider is 2 times more accurate and 2 times more expensive than Eva.

3. Artec Leo
Best 3D Scanners 23

Product Artec Leo
Type Manual
Technology Structured lighting
OS Compatibility Windows 7/10 (x64)

Artec Leo marks a step forward in the 3D scanner market. The unit offers significantly higher resolution than scanners from Eva, which are among the best in the industry. This scanner also has wireless functionality and on-board scan processing capabilities.

Artec Leo takes a laptop or computer out of the equation by providing complete scanning freedom. Some upgrades on the scanner include 2.3MP HDR color textures, 80fps model building, 4M points per second acquisition rate and 173,000 cc capture area, among others.

The Artec Leo would be a solid investment for roughly $ 25,800.

Expert Comment: This is the scanner that Eva users have been waiting for from Artec. The scanner has a built-in display for monitoring the scanning process and replaceable battery.

While the Calibry scanner may be similar to the Artec Leo, the former does not have a battery. Therefore, it has to be used while connected to a power supply. This limits its mobility. Moreover, the Leo weighs 3 times less than the Calibry, which will ultimately allow scanning a much larger volume.

When it comes to pricing (check current price), the Artec Leo is at par with other industrial 3D scanners from Shining 3D, Creaform, and Scantech.

4. Creaform Go! Scan Spark
Best 3D Scanners 24

Product Creaform Go! Scan Spark
Type Manual
Technology Structured lighting
OS Compatibility Windows 7/10 (x64)

The Creaform Go! Scan Spark, is in many ways the most impressive industrial 3D scanner. This device was created to replace the Go! Scan 50 and Go! Scan 20.

This compact white light 3D scanner has tremendous capabilities. The device captures geometry and textures at professional quality and produces 1.5 million measurements per second. Moreover, it allows free movement of both the object and the scanner.

With an accuracy of up to 0.05 mm and a resolution of 0.1 mm, the system uses hybrid positioning to provide easy and convenient manual scanning of larger objects in a simple point-and-shoot workflow.

The bundled VXelements software boasts a number of optimization features to improve scans. The features include automatic hole filling, improved face grabbing, and edge finishes (useful for mechanical parts and structures).

You can also purchase the VXmodel software separately. The software allows you to directly integrate your scans into CAD.

Expert Comment: Whether you want to scan a large or small object, the Creoform Go Scan is up to the task. The scanner copes with objects from 0.1 to 4 meters. The scan result can be used to take control data, since the scanner has a certificate of entry into the State Register of Measuring Instruments.

This model opens the line of industrial solutions. It makes no sense to compare it with budget solutions.

3D Scanning Technologies

Before you purchase a 3D scanner, it is important to have a good understanding of what technologies it uses and how they work.

A 3D scanner first scans an object or person. The image data is then transferred to a 3D modeling program, where it can be modified or corrected. After that, it can be printed, inserted into a video game, and so on.

After scanning the object, the model can be edited using a 3D design software. When the model is ready, it can be exported to an STL file and printed in 3D. Basically, this means that everything you see in your daily life can be 3D printed, whether it’s a small object like a piece of jewelry or a large object like a car.

There are different technologies and features to consider when purchasing a 3D scanner. Below is an overview of 3D scanning technologies.


This 3D scanning technology was in use before the age of computers.

After the invention of photography, scientists realized that they could apply the principle of natural binocular vision to their fields. Using images taken from two slightly different positions, they were able to measure and locate the points of objects in three-dimensional space. Experts call this process “triangulation.”
Best 3D Scanners 25
To this day, photogrammetry is used by surveyors to produce highly accurate maps. The technology is especially useful in mountainous areas that are difficult to measure. It can also be used together with other 3D scanning technologies.

Modern computer programs triangulate entire buildings as well as small objects such as shoes. You can even use your smartphone as a portable 3D scanner by simply installing an app. The accuracy will largely depend on quality of the images. The more pixels you load into your program, the more data it has to process.

To create a complete model, you need to take many shots while moving around objects in increments of 15 to 30 degrees. Moreover, you have to repeat the shots at different heights, especially when 3D scanning complex objects with many obstructions to vision.

To successfully triangulate a point, it must be photographed at least twice. Otherwise your mesh will have gaps. So feel free to shoot from different angles as you do your photos.

Structured Lighting
Best 3D Scanners 26

These devices project geometric patterns onto the surface of an object while the camera detects image distortion. Depending on the displacement of the pattern, the location of each point can be calculated.

Since patterns can only be projected from one viewpoint at a time, multiple 3D scans must be merged to form a full 360° mesh. Some manufacturers work around this limitation by placing an object on a motorized turntable and automatically stitching 3D scans.

3D scanners that use structured light technology are very accurate. Their resolution fluctuates in the region of tens of micrometers.

Unlike 3D laser scanners, this technology is completely safe for use on humans and animals. The distance of such 3D scanning is limited to a few meters.

Structured lighting technology is used in both stationary and mobile 3D scanning.

TOF (Time of Flight)
Best 3D Scanners 27

Time Of Flight (TOF) 3D scanners use even more sophisticated science. They determine the distance to an object by measuring the time it takes for a sent laser or infrared beam to be reflected in the direction of the 3D scanner.

An essential component for the operation of such a device is the speed of light. The return time of the beam determines the distance traveled by the beam of light. Given that sunlight takes only 8 minutes and 17 seconds to reach Earth, you can imagine how accurate sensors are used in such scanners.

However, even powerful TOF scanners have drawbacks: differences in temperature, humidity and other factors affect the speed of light and prevent the 3D scanner from accurately measuring the return time of the beam. Therefore, their accuracy is relatively small, within centimeters.

3D scanners using TOF technology are mainly used for scanning large structures such as buildings. As with other technologies, it is not possible to create a solid mesh with a single scan. 3D TOF scanners using laser beams should not be used when scanning people or animals. Many devices using this approach are designed as portable 3D scanners.

Triangulation (3D Laser Scanners)

Best 3D Scanners 28

Triangulation 3D scanners, also known as 3D laser scanners, are similar to photogrammetric 3D scanners and structured light scanners in that they use the same basic geometric principle to locate a point in space. A 3D laser scanner projects a laser beam and a camera registers where exactly the beam hits an object. Since the angles and points of the laser and camera are known, the point (or line) of incidence of the laser beam can be accurately calculated.

Such 3D scanners have excellent accuracy, and their resolution ranges within tens of microns. On the other hand, their range is limited to only a few meters.

Laser-based 3D triangulation scanners are also capable of scanning moving objects. However, this technology is not commonly found in portable 3D scanners.

Contact Scanning

Best 3D Scanners 29

Contact 3D scanners physically touch an object that is resting on a surface or fixed on some kind of machine that holds it in a stationary position. This scan is usually a slow process, as even minor vibrations can distort the scan.

While these 3D scanners can perform accurate scans such as those used for quality control in mechanical engineering, the probes can alter or even potentially damage scanned objects. For this reason, contact 3D scanners are not used to preserve cultural objects.

What Type of 3D scanner is Best for Me?

Choosing the right 3D scanner is not easy. There are many criteria to keep in mind before purchasing a device. For example, a particular 3D scanner might be the best choice for architectural use, but might not be suitable for prototyping. You can make good use of an affordable stationary scanner, or you may need a versatile handheld device.

Before we dive into a selection of the many different 3D scanners available on the market, let’s take a look at the various aspects you should consider. We’ve compiled a list of the most important features to keep in mind when buying a 3D scanner.

a) Application area

The first question you should ask yourself is: what do you want to use the scanner for?

Device requirements vary depending on the application. For example, a game developer creating game objects will be interested not only in high-resolution mesh, but also in capturing the object’s texture. In this case, the logical solution would be a scanner with photogrammetry technology.

On the other hand, a manufacturer who wants to 3D print a real-world object will be more interested in capturing its exact dimensions. He will probably choose a structured lighting-based 3D scanner.

You should also decide as early as possible where you want to 3D scan objects. If they are relatively small and you can bring them to your office or home, buy a stationary 3D scanner. If not, then you need a portable 3D scanner.

b) Object type

You also need to determine what exactly you want to scan in 3D. There is no device that covers all areas of application.

For 3D scanning people and animals, you cannot use a 3D laser scanner as it can damage your eyes. In this case, photogrammetry technology may work well. However, this technology requires the object to remain perfectly still. It will give you great scans of your friend or family member, but scanning your dog can be much more difficult.

3D laser scanners are a great choice if you want to scan large inanimate objects such as buildings or vehicles.

In case you are interested in reverse engineering and need extremely accurate dimensional measurements, structured lighting or contact 3D scanning technologies may be for you.

However, contact 3D scanners cannot be considered as a suitable option in projects related to the preservation of cultural heritage. This is because the scanning process with them can change or even destroy delicate or fragile objects. In this case, the best solution would be a structured lighting 3D scanner.

c) Object dimensions / distance

Most consumer 3D (structured lighting) scanners are designed to 3D scan objects the size of an average teapot and at close range. However, you will often be able to stitch multiple 3D scans together into one model.

Typically, the larger the objects are and the further away they are, the more expensive the 3D scanner will be. The exception is programs that use photogrammetry technologies, which are usually reasonably priced and give excellent results.

d) Object surface

Another factor to keep in mind when looking to buy a 3D scanner is the surface of your object. Both photogrammetric and structured illumination scanners have serious problems when scanning reflective or transparent surfaces. Such objects either cannot be processed or lead to distorted and fragmented model meshes.

Even the best 3D scanner will not give satisfactory results when used on surfaces that are not suitable for them. If you are determined to 3D scan such objects, this limitation is often overcome by applying a thin coat of opaque varnish.

e) Permission

Finally, the most important characteristic in many applications is 3D scanning accuracy. Contact 3D scanners are extremely accurate, but prices range from $ 30,000 to $ 200,000. Again, you have to ask yourself what you want to use the scan for and what resolution will be sufficient to get the result.

Leave a Reply