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Top 5 Things to know about 3D Scanning in 2021. You May be Surprised.

Updated: Sep 27, 2021

  1. What is 3D scanning?

3D scanning is a method used to capture a physical object using scanning technology, such as laser 3D scanning, structured light scanning and photogrammetry, to recreate a 3D object or person.

2. How does 3D scanning work?

A. Structured light scanning

A structure scanner uses a blue or white structured light to capture a 3D object. This method is great at capturing texture/color. The Artec Eva, Artec Spider and the Einscan are all structured light scanners that capture objects with excellent point accuracy and resolution in a matter of minutes. The complex data is then converted into a mesh which can be simplified into a more workable model.

Full body 3D scanning using an Artec Eva 3D scanner

B. Laser 3D scanning

Laser 3D scanners are highly accurate, and thus, they are often used when more precise measurements are needed or when an object has a more complex geometry. Well-known, accurate laser 3D scanners include the Faro and Leica laser scanner. As its name implies, a laser scanner uses a laser that projects onto the object or person and a sensor then measures the distance between the laser and the object/person.

Faro 3D laser scanner

C. Photogrammetry

Photogrammetry involves taking several photographs of an object from different angles using high quality cameras, and then merging that data to form a 3D model. Although photogrammetry may not capture the most precise measurements, it is very useful in capturing texture and fine details for digital use. It is also the best way of capturing different poses (ie, body movements, facial expressions). The number and quality of the cameras and lens determines the quality of the final 3D model.

High quality DSLR cameras used for photogrammetry

3. What is 3D scanning used for?

A. 3D printing

3D scanning can be used for creating a physical object using various 3D printers, including single color SLA (Stereolithography) printers, such as the FormLabs resin printer, or PLA (Polylactic acid) printers, full color 3D printers (sandstone and UV inject printers) such as the Mimaki printer, or nylon printers, to name a few. Often times, an object may have to be rescaled or modified to accommodate the particular 3D printer being used. It is important to choose a 3D scanning company capable of preparing models for 3D printing.

Formlabs 3L large format SLA 3D printer
Flashforge PLA filament printer
3D scanning was used to make custom mannequins for Louis Vuitton

B. Rescaling

A full size 3D scan of a person can be scaled down to make a 3D full color or single color 3D printed figurine. Larger objects can also be scanned and scaled down to make a unique jewelry piece. Clay models can be scaled up to produce a piece of art or furniture using CNC milling.

3D printed full color figurines scaled from 4 inches to 12 inches

C. Augmented or Virtual Reality (AR/VR)

Imagine being able to take a virtual tour of a museum in virtual reality? Not only can you take a tour, but you can also engage with the 3D objects in the museum by simply lifting a finger and rotating the object(s). From the medical student learning about the human body to the mechanic learning how to do complex repairs through visual instruction, 3D scanning can be used to produce 3D digital assets that can be used in AR and VR.

Surgeon uses VR headset for medical education

D. To design a prototype

3D scanning can be used to scan an existing object, modify it, and 3D print it to make a new product. By using 3D scanning, an accurate measurement can be obtained around which a new device can be produced.

Laser hair remover 3D scanned to produce a custom attachment

E. To reproduce an object

3D scanning can be used to replicate an object that is unique or no longer made, such as a piece of jewelry or a part for a rare car. It can also be used to make a unique piece of art or jewelry by 3D scanning and rescaling the size.

Digital render of 3D scanned sea shells

F. Animation

A person can be 3D scanned using structure or laser 3D scanning or photogrammetry. The person can then be rigged (joints added), and the person can be animated (to walk, dance, jump, etc.). The 3D scan can also be transposed into a virtual environment. This saves time and resources, and in the midst of a pandemic, it can decrease the risk of exposure to other people.

French Montana. A 3D scan in a T-pose can be used for animation.

G. Digital marketing

3D scanning has played more of a role in digital marketing, as objects that are scanned can now move or be positioned in ways that were difficult with traditional photography. This allows digital marketers to produce more engaging, creative content.

Digital render of 3D scanned Nike sneakers
Shoes stacked vertically using 3D scans and digital rendering

H. Jewelry

A popular use of 3D scanning technology is jewelry 3D scanning. By 3D scanning jewelry such as precious metals, a digital copy of the original object can be created. The digital copy can then be used to repair or duplicate a valuable piece of jewelry. 3D scanners are now being used as a supplementary tool by traditional jewelers, but the technology has also allowed newcomers to enter the field, many of which have combined 3D scanning with jewelry 3D printing using casting wax. The majority of jewelry 3D scanners use a structured light. The Artec Micro or Solutionix D700, is one of the best 3D scanners for jewelry.

3D scan of a face used to make custom Sweet 16 pendants

4. How accurate is 3D scanning?

The accuracy of a 3D scan is dependent on the 3D scanner that is used to capture the object.

Professional scanners offer the best accuracy, and thus it is important to consult a 3D scanning and modeling service when high accuracy and resolution is desired, or if changes need to be made to the 3D scan to make it print ready, or to simplify scan data for digital use. Laser scanners offer the highest accuracy, which would be important if an object is functional or if the scan data is to be used for measurements (ie, body scan to fit clothing). If it is more important to capture the texture of an object or person in a fast, efficient manner, than photogrammetry would be the best option. The accuracy of a 3D model captured by photogrammetry is dependent on the type of cameras used, the quantity of cameras used and the quality of the photos.

Structured light 3D scanners

5. How much does 3D scanning cost?

The cost of 3D scanning depends on the size and the complexity of the object being scanned. 3D scanning can be expensive, as it can take hours to process files and clean up the mesh after processing. A 3D modeler may be needed once the scan is captured to clean up any artifacts, hollow a model for 3D printing or to modify the original scan. Prices range from $150 for a small geometrically simple object up to $1000 for a full body scan with texture/color.

Capture It in 3D is a premier 3D scanning service. Call (855) 693-3722 or email to schedule your 3D scan.

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