Web review : 3D scanners

Today’s topic is 3D scanner with a few products of page that I’ve collected these past few weeks.

My interest for 3D scanners was the normal follow-up to my investment in the Form1 printer. While Formlab (builder of the printer) has been hit by a Patent troll suit and the updates are rare since the project is funded I’m still hoping to get it before summer. But what good is a printer without the ability to reproduce complex shapes, especially considering that stereo lithography offers a stunning accuracy? The only issue is that I’m not an artist and I won’t be able to model organic shapes any time soon unless I want to start an horror gallery. So I took the other options:

  1. Learn to use modern CAD software, an thanks to the student licenses it can be really cheap (I will do a post on that topic in the near future). But that’s really oriented toward modeling relatively geometric shapes like my puzzles and the whole process is lengthy.
  2. The other option is to capture the data from the real world, thus the 3D scanner. And this is opening a whole new big world as XKCD perfectly capture it.

The hobby and academic scene has been on the subject with various approaches and it seems the number of solution is exploding these days. I’m sure it’s correlated to the 3D printing trend as as most of the world is not artist nor has the time to wait for a manual modeling.

I will start with the maker/hacker site Hackaday that propose articles on how to tweak anything to enhance the functionality or even in this case how to build a simple but effective 3D scanner in a Day! It’s an amazing feat using some ‘junk’ (including a tv rotary table and a barcode scanner) to reach this functionality. It gives me hope on my own project, even if I’m aiming to a more complex measuring scheme.

On the theory side entire courses with the scanning theory are available with a nice difference between the structural line scanning (projecting a gray code pattern with a projector) or the split scanner type (projecting a laser line or a shadow on the object).

On the free as in beer option, David 3D scanner offers a full reconstruction software that could work with a minimal investment. After printing a calibration background and a line scanner you can use your PC webcam to start scanning.

An other relatively cheap alternative could be to have a look at the new software library package (see at minute 50 in the video) that will be released for the Kinect sensor by Microsoft. Or the reconstruction from real pictures with 123D software.

After there are “key in hand” solutions around a few k$  that flourish on Kickstarter. Lynx A camera for example is really a Kinect mounted in big fablet (acronym for fat-tablet). I have to say seeing the size of this thing the real benefit is really only the ease and the fact that you can capture a room/object with texture in one swipe. For more accuracy on small object you can go with the desktop scanner from CADScan…

And now, the best (sic) for the end. Where the crazy meets the hype! Who has never dream to have his own action figure on his desk? But I’d rather have my scan translated to a gummy bear so that I could eat the shameful evidence as soon as I receive it 🙂

[<< prev – 3D Scanner introduction] [3D Scanner articles] [Scanner architecture – Next>>]


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