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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

3D Scanning Pick 2 list

Seems to be a lot of talk lately about 3D scanning on various forums I'm on so I thought I'd collect and condense my thoughts in one place where I can drive traffic [winky emoticon]. It is the next logical step after 3D printing. My take on 3D scanning, with the footwork I've already done, is that you have 3 options and you can pick 2:
  • Fast
  • Accurate/High Resolution
  • Cheap
Fast and Accurate: ScannerKiller offers an amazing package that can do a very high resolution full body 3D scan in an instant. It may even be possible to capture video at the speeds they're doing. They use a method called Stereo Photogrammetry and pre-calibrating their cameras. Despite the precalibration the setup still need lots of cameras (16 by my count) and projecting a randomized texture on the subject with a flash to add texture to smooth objects, some of which may be applied to a DIY option. But if you're going to buy one from them the asking price is $17000. There's also NextEngine, endorsed by Jay Leno. $3000. And really it's not that fast.

Fast and CheapReconstructMe and a Microsoft Kinect and you're good to go. Sure the result looks like it's covered in mud, but it only took a second and only cost you about $100 for the Kinect.

Accurate and Cheap: There are lots of options in this category.  123DCatch or Agisoft StereoScan use photogrammetry but can be tricky. For 123DCatch like apps you need a lot of photos to make it work (more than ScannerKiller). Plus if your camera isn't super accurate or if the lighting changes it could mess up the whole process. 123DCatch is free and works by uploading your pictures to their server where they process it, Agisoft has a similar app for $179 but you download it and processes on your computer. You could also download a free copy of the David Scanner software with a decently high resolution webcam and either a laser line level or projector. David Scanner has a great tool chain to stitch multiple models together accurately. But with all these options the subject being scanned needs to hold very still through the scanning process which can take minutes to complete. Not good if you're trying to capture a child for posterity. There are some other DIY options as well but their tool chains are less complete.


  1. Joe, there is also which came out around the same time as 123d Catch. It is better with actual cameras rather than smartphone cameras, but maybe I was doing something wrong.

    Also I believe the free version of the David scanner is limited to low resolution output. But that was the last time I explored it it may be different now.

  2. hypr3d has been bought out by cubify, so that's an instant No from me. Still have to upload to their servers so no real advantage except being bankrolled by the evil empire.

    Another maker friend of mine has pretty much concluded that smartphone cameras aren't good ever for this sort of thing. Always use a high resolution camera. I plan to experiment with a webcam one day myself.


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