How Does a 3D Scanner Work?

Using 3D scanners and printing in 3D format is no new idea, but something that is becoming more common for mean people.

Previously, 3D scanner technology was available only in hospitals or major design companies. Today, it is possible for individuals to have a 3D scanner at home together with their 3D printers.

The 3D scanners available today have not only increased significantly in quality and design in recent years, but the price has also dropped drastically, making it possible to buy one for private use.

Just a few years ago, the number of manufacturers was very limited with only 3-4 producers worth mentioning. However, the market has since exploded, and today there are about ten different brands of consumer scanners and printers in Sweden, and around 25-30 different brands when looking at the global market. This makes it as before a lot of exotic, and a bit of a future dream, today is reality.

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Should You Buy A 3D Scanner?

Anyone who wants to buy their first 3D scanner has some to consider before the purchase is made. The first question is, of course, how and why the machine is supposed to be used, and what the purpose of the acquisition is.

For individuals who simply want a 3D scanner to be able to use the relatively new technology and find new areas to explore, the benefits are many.

By scanning an object in 3D and then printing it, even in 3D, in a smaller size, it opens up possibilities for, for example, creating a desktop model of one’s car, boat or motorcycle. Only imagination and creativity set limits.

Prices of 3D Scanners

Although the prices of scanners are still relatively high, it is cheap to find, and the price of this type of equipment is constantly falling as technology becomes cheaper to produce and demand increases.

Buying a 3D scanner will come within a few years to be as common as buying a cheap 3D printer or scanner of the more traditional variety. For more in-depth information on different 3D scanners and prices, check out our comparable products.

How a 3D Scanner Works

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 three-dimensional models in the digital world.

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

Technique of Time of Flight (TOF)

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

A model based on scanned via structured light emits light rays in a square pattern toward the object, then calculates the appearance of the object depending on how the window pattern changes when it meets the object.

The advantage of this method is the precision and speed, as you can scan multiple points across the field of vision in parallel, instead of scanning one point at a time.

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The 3D scanners using the Time of Flight method instead use laser to measure an object, simply sending out a laser beam and measuring how long it takes for the light to bounce back.

This is based on the fact that light velocity is known, and the method can be used at long distances. Therefore, this method works well in 3D scanning of, for example, real estate or physical environments such as mountains, valleys and forest areas.

Here’s a video on when Ben Heck uses different tricks with to get the best results.

Portable 3D Scanners Are Now An Opportunity

What has long been the major disadvantage of the 3D machines, in addition to the price, is the size and time it has taken to scan 3D of an object.

In the early stages, you could count on several days to scan for example a regular football or a small garden hut, and the machine was often as big as a dining table and could not be rushed by a person on its own.

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Fortunately, they have walked the same way as the computers, which also started as real colossus but today are much easier to handle and carry.

Today, there are both relatively fast and, above all, smaller variants of scanners to choose from, which improves the purchase and use for both individuals and for more official use.

Today, there are 3D scanners like, for example, and also Scacanify from Fuel3D that can be carried by hand, and with a simple button press, scans the object you point to. These portable scanners already handle very high resolution and scan items that can be used for printing, art and game development.

The handheld scanner can scan live people, animals and plants, surfaces with different materials and basically any object.

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