How Does a 3D Scanner Work?

If you are wondering how does a 3D scanner work, this introductory guide covers the basics and technologies of 3D scanning.

Using 3D scanners and printing in 3D format is not a new idea. In fact, it is something that is becoming more common both for people engaged in business and hobby activities.

In the past, 3D scanner technology was available mostly in hospitals and big design companies. However, today, anyone can have a 3D scanner and 3D printer at home.

The consumer 3D scanners available on the market are of high quality and feature modern design. Moreover, they are also affordable, which makes them attractive for consumers.

Just a few years ago, there were only a few 3D scanner manufacturers worth mentioning. Today, there are dozens of manufacturers on the market, offering various 3D scanner brands. This explains the drop in the prices of 3D scanners, and their increasing popularity.How Does a 3D Scanner Work? 1


Should You Buy a 3D Scanner?

If you want to buy you first 3D scanner, there are some things to consider. To begin, find out how and where the machine will be used. Also, consider the purpose of the acquisition.

If you simply want a 3D scanner to be able to use the relatively new technology and find new areas to explore, there are many budget options you can consider.

There are many applications for 3D scanning technology. For example, you can 3D scan an object and then 3D print it. This opens up many possibilities. For instance, you can create a desktop model of your car, boat or motorcycle. There are many things you can scan and end up 3D printing. Your only limit will be your imagination and creativity.

Prices of 3D Scanners

While 3D scanners are still relatively expensive, there are some budget options that are suitable for hobbyists and home consumers. Moreover, prices are continuing to be more affordable as the technology becomes cheaper to produce and demand increases.

In a few years, 3D scanners will be as cheap as 3D printers or the traditional scanners. Check our guide of the best 3D scanners for the range of prices that the machines are available for.

How Does a 3D Scanner Work?

A 3D scanner analyzes a physical object, collects data about the shape of the object and mapping properties like color and texture. These data can then be used to create digital 3D models.

A 3D scanner creates a bullet around the object or environment it is set to scan. The points are then used to estimate measurement values, such as the shape and size of the object. Often, the object needs to be 3D scanned or read multiple times, from different angles and at different distances to create a complete and detailed scan.

There are different ways in which a 3D scanner reads an object. The two most common techniques are “Time of Flight” and Structured Light.

1. Time of Flight (TOF)

With Time of Flight method, the scanner uses laser to measure an object. The scanner sends out a laser beam and measures how long it takes for the light to bounce back. This way, the outline of the model can be determined based on how the laser beam bounces since light velocity is known.

The Time of Flight method can be used to gather data or objects or subjects at long distances. Therefore, this method is the best option for 3D scanning subjects such as real estate or physical environments such as mountains, valleys and forest areas.

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Watch the video below to see how the tricks that Ben Heck employs to get the best 3D scans.

2. Structured Light

With this technology, an object is scanned via structured light that emits light rays in a square pattern toward the object. The scanner then calculates the appearance of the object depending on how the window pattern changes when it meets the object.

The advantages of this method are precision and speed. You can scan multiple points across the field of vision in parallel, instead of scanning one point at a time.

Portable 3D Scanners

Apart from being expensive, 3D scanners have been large in size and take a lot of time to 3D scan an object.

A few year ago, 3D scanning a regular football or a small garden hut would take several days. Moreover, the 3D scanners were often as big as a dining table and very slow.

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Fortunately, as technology improves, 3D scanners have also become smaller, faster, and more affordable. As a result, anyone today can buy a 3D scanner. There are many handheld 3D scanners that cost less than $1000. For example, you can get the Creality CR-Scan Ferret SE

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This scanner can be carried by hand, has a simple button press, and scans the object you point to.

Best Portable 3D Scanners for Beginners

Below are the best 3D scanners for beginners:

1. Matter and Form 3D Scanner v2

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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. Therefore, 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

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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”. Find out more about the technology below.

Given the high price of this product, it ends up in second place even though it’s better than its predecessor.

3- XYZPrinting 3D Scanner 2.0

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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.

However, with the slightly lower reviews, this ends up in last place in our top list of the best 3D scanner in 2020.

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