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 load a 3D model of an object to be printed with a 3D printer. When looking for a scanner, you will find both entry-level options for consumers and hobbysits and more power machines for industrial applications.
Industrial 3D scanners have better software and workflows and some 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 your particular tasks.
Which 3D Scanner Are You Looking For?
- Consumer and Hobbyists 3D Scanners
- Professional 3D Scanners
- Industrial 3D Scanners
Editor’s Picks: Best 3D Scanners
3D Scanners Comparison Table
Scan With a Smartphone Camera
If you already know what 3D scanning is and want to easily scan a 3D model with your smartphone camera or other camera, read our article on How to 3D Scan with a Phone Camera.
Best 3D Scanners
Below we list the top 3 Best 3D scanners in 2020.
1- Matter and Form 3D Scanner v2
The Matter and Form 3D Scanner V2 is the successor to V1. This is an affordable 3D Scanner that comes with MFStudio, a robust software for processing 3D scanned models.
This 3D Scanner uses a common method for creating 3D models of objects known as triangulation technology. Through the technology, the scanner can capture geometry faster, especially when used alongside the optional +QuickScan software upgrade.
The Matter and Form V2 can be attached to a USB to become a desktop scanner. The scanner is also collapsible. You can fold it for easy transportation.
Considering the price and customer reviews, this 3D scanner ranks first in our list of the best 3D scanner for consumers
2- Shining 3D Einscan Pro 2X
The Shining Einscan Pro 2X also makes it on our list of the best 3D scanners on the market. This handheld scanner is easy to use and does its job well. This 3D scanner can handle high speeds (30fps). Therefore, you can scan objects and models quickly.
The 3D scanner uses “Structured Light Technology” which you can read more about below.
Given the high price of this product, it ends up in second place even though the 3D Scanner is better than its predecessor.
3- XYZPrinting 3D Scanner 2.0
XYZPrinting 3D Scanner 2.0 is a handheld 3D scanner that can handle most things and get the job done. This cheaper variant of handheld 3D scanners is very affordable for anyone who has a need to scan 3D models.
This 3D Scanner also uses structured light technology which you can read about below.
However, with the slightly lower reviews, this ends up in last place in our top list of the best 3D scanner in 2020.
What is 3D Scanner?
A 3D Scanner is a tool that can read an object’s 3-dimensional coordinates and thus create a 3D model of the object. The 3D model is loaded via a program on the computer and can thus be easily adapted to your own needs.
Some 3D Scanners can also read colors and other data.
These tools have become more popular in recent times as 3D printers have become increasingly popular. The reason is simple if you understand what a 3D printer does. 3D printers use a so-called CAD file to print an object, and in many cases you want to copy an existing object such as a cracked plastic cover, and then print it out in 3D with your printer.
This is when a 3D Scanner is a good tool to have, as you do not have to measure “by hand” and can easily scan the object / object to the computer and then prepare for 3D printing.
3D Scanners are widely used in the gaming industry and the virtual reality industry, as well as the film industry.
Read on to learn more about 3D Scanner.
Want to read about 3D Printers first?
Read our complete guide on 3D printers to learn all about 3D printers, technology, how it works, and much more.
The process is called 3D Scanning , when scanning an object or object’s data such as coordinates, colors, and more. The data can then be used to create a 3D model, which can thus be printed with a 3D Printer.
In the past, this process has been very expensive. But with an increasingly popular industry in 3D printers, prices have fallen.
Now there are also different methods to scan an object into a 3D Program. One of the most popular methods is to use the mobile camera.
How does a 3D Scanner work?
A 3D scanner collects data in the form of distances that are in its field of view. Like a regular camera, a 3D scanner cannot collect data if the field of view is covered or poorly visible.
It can be said that a camera collects color information while a 3D scanner collects distance information.
Usually, a scan of an object is not enough, but you have to scan the object from several different directions, maybe even hundreds of times to get a good 3D model.
Like everything else, 3D scanners with different technologies, from different manufacturers. We go through a little more detail about the different techniques below.
What can I use a 3D scanner for?
Everyone has different needs that you have probably figured out. But one of the most common reasons why you need a 3D scanner is that you need to copy an object that has broken.
If a piece of plastic on an old bicycle has broken, or if a foot of an old armchair has been broken apart, then a 3D scanner can help instead of creating the object from scratch.
In industries, 3D scanners are used to assist the film industry, the gaming industry and the virtual reality industry very much. But even industrial design, robotics, prostheses, reverse engineering all use 3D scanning as a process to streamline work.
3D Scanner technology
There are a number of different techniques for scanning an object, and we will go through the most common ones here. Many manufacturers have their own unique methods, which are often patented, which we do not go through here as they are relatively unusual.
Before we go into the different technologies, we want to point out that Photogrammetry is an additional way to create a 3D model , but which is not as efficient as a real 3D scanner. Photogrammetry uses a camera (even a mobile camera works well) to create a model. Read more about this method below.
It is important to remember that a particular process for scanning an object is only as good as the software allows.
Photogrammetry is the method of photographing an object to create a 3D model. So there are several photos, from different angles, to create the model.
In 3D Printing, photogrammetry or photogrammetry is the budget method for scanning an object into a 3D model. It is also possible to use a good mobile camera.
Most people who have tried this think it’s a fun way to scan an item, for as little money as possible (sometimes for free).
You can also print a so-called table to place the object on, which then has an arm that holds a camera that you can rotate around the object to take pictures continuously and at right angles.
After taking the pictures, you must compile them, or register them, in a program that puts everything together into a 3D model.
Scan with your mobile camera?
Read our guide 3D Scan with the Camera to learn how you can use photogrammetry to easily scan an object into a 3D model.
Time-of-flight (TOF) is a more sophisticated method than photogrammetry. Here, the tool uses lasers to control the object. It is the time from the time the laser is fired until it returns that determines the distance. Hence the name Time-of-flight.
A typical 3D Scanner using time-of-flight technology can measure anywhere from 10,000 dots to 100,000 dots per second.
You can move this type of scanner around the object / subject, or you can use mirrors or other methods to scan the entire object.
Another method is triangulation . These 3D scanners also use a laser beam to measure, but instead of measuring the time it takes for the light to bounce back, a camera on the tool measures where the laser point is.
Since the laser punk is located in different places on objects, in the camera’s field of view, you can use triangulation to calculate the distances and create a 3D model.
Structured light , or structured light, is a relatively new technology used by slightly more expensive scanners. This method uses light, which is projected on an object in, for example, a grid pattern, to then measure the deformation of the grid pattern and thereby create a 3D model.
This method can thus measure many different points simultaneously, within its field of view, instead of one point at a time. The advantage of this is that you can allow error correction, or even moving objects, to be scanned into 3D models.
These 3D Scanners have much higher precision and speed than previous techniques, and can be used to load objects very quickly, even moving objects depending on the 3D scanner.
Advantages and disadvantages
Advantages and disadvantages of course exist between the various techniques above.
We have created a small list of the most common advantages and disadvantages between the above mentioned techniques.
As mentioned, time-of-flight is a very common method, and the advantage of this technology is that it can be used over very long distances, even several kilometers, because you measure the time it takes for the light to bounce back.
The disadvantage of Time-of-flight, however, is that the speed of light is very difficult to measure. It is also the case that if the light bounces on one edge, you can get several bounces back, which makes it even more difficult to make an accurate 3D model.
Triangulation, on the other hand, has the advantage of being very accurate, when calculating distances with triangulation methods.
The disadvantage of triangulation, however, is that you can only measure short distances.
Structured light has the advantage of being a very accurate and also fast method of creating a 3D model. This technology is also used to scan moving objects into 3D models.
The disadvantage of structured light, however, is that it is expensive and thus more suitable for organizations and companies instead of private individuals.
Handheld 3D Scanner
You will also notice that there are so-called handheld 3D Scanners on the market. These 3D Scanners are also very good.
A clear advantage of a handheld 3D Scanner is that it is easy to take with you, works easily with a laptop, and is easy to use. These 3D scanners are now very good.
To consider when buying a handheld 3D scanner is what to use the product for. If you want to do several repeated scans per day, it can be difficult to have to hold the scanner in your hand all the time when scanning, then a stationary scanner would be better suited.
Hard-to-reach spaces and a lot of travelers also suggest that a handheld 3D scanner is better suited than a desktop.
3D Scanning Software
There are many different programs for 3D scanning , and depending on the type of technology, a program is needed to register the model in 3D.
Photogrammetry, for example, needs a program that merges multiple images into one 3D object, while other technologies such as Time-of-flight need their own programs to combine the points into a 3D model.
The programs usually cost quite a lot, but there are also often free versions of third-party programs that can be found on the internet.
For photogrammetry, there is by far the most free software. Examples of some are Autodesk ReCap, RealityCapture, Regard3D, COLMAP, VisualSFM, 3DF Zephyr, Pix4D, Imagine Photogrammetry.
In some cases, software is included with the purchase of a 3D scanner.
Organizations and Institutes
Companies and other types of organizations or institutes may need a 3D scanner, and may also be able to afford an advanced version that can be used for, for example, education or other.
Companies can also use these scanners for their business such as manufacturing products for aftermarket, or other.
Regardless of whether you are a private person or a company, it is a fun tool that also does a lot of good, saves a lot of time, and if you use it diligently, you can also create a good turnover by selling spare parts or the like, as many have done.
Keep in mind when buying a 3D scanner
If you want to buy a 3D Scanner , you can use our top list at the top of the page.
Before buying, you should ask yourself what you are going to use the 3D scanner for, how fast it needs to be, how accurate it needs to be, and how often you will use it.
Once you have answered these questions, you will know if it is profitable to invest in a 3D scanner or not. Maybe photogrammetry is a better option for you, or even just sitting and measuring the object by hand and plotting the points in a CAD program.
If you are a private person, we do not recommend that you buy an expensive 3D scanner as these usually do not have such good resale value. This technology is evolving rapidly, and like mobile phones in the past, a new model came every year which meant that the old model was hardly worth anything more.
We also recommend that you have good knowledge in 3D printers, CAD, and the industry in general.
Rent a 3D Scanner
Can you rent a 3D scanner? There are many who ask this, and of course you can, as long as you know where to look. On the site hyglo there are some scanners for rent, but since there is no dedicated page for just renting 3D Scanners, we will not recommend any particular site.
We recommend that you simply call around or google “rent 3D scanner” to find the most suitable alternative.