Desktop 3D scanners

Most of us individuals are not experts at 3D designing and not all of us have the time or desire to become one. So, rather than designing an object from the scratch by using complex modeling softwares, one can rely on 3D scanning – an easy and time-saving method for capturing multi-dimensional models of objects. 3D scanning technology has been around for a while but until recently, 3D scanners have been used predominantly for industrial and professional needs. With the advent of 3D printing at consumer-level, the need for desktop scanners has increased more than ever. Accordingly, over the last  few years, 3D scanners have become more versatile, advanced, accurate  and  cheaper. Today, there are multiple options of affordable 3D scanners to choose from.

Let’s look at a few affordable desktop 3D scanners with their detailed specifications.

3D Sense

The 3D systems Sense Scanner is a perfect fit for those who are looking for a versatile, portable, and easy to use 3D scanner. This is one of the best 3D scanners due to its mobile design which allows one to perform on-the-go scanning. Using this handheld device, you can scan objects of incredible size with details up to a maximum resolution of 0.9mm and with an accuracy of 1mm. The scanner can even pick out an object against a busy background.

The accompanying ‘3D Sense software’, downloadable for free from 3D systems website, is very easy to use and provides options to scan objects or humans (both full body and busts ) in addition to basic editing options such as hole filling and solidifying. The final Scans can be exported in STL , OBJ and PLY formats and are ready to be  sent directly to a 3D printer or to edit further in any external softwares.

Technical Specifications:

3D Scanner Price: $419
Setup: Handheld
Scanning range: 0.35m-3m
Scan Accuracy: 1.0mm
Scan resolution: 0.9mm
Software: 3D sense
Scan Volume: 0.2 x 0.2 x 0.2m (min) to 3 x 3 x 3m (max)


iSense 3D Scanner

iSense from 3D systems is a scanner designed solely for scanning with apple products such as iPads and iPhones.

Like it’s Windows counterpart, the iSense 3D scanner, which snaps onto an iPad/iPhone turns its existing 2D camera into a 3D scanner. iSense offers similar versatility and ease of use like Sense scanner to suit a variety of 3D scanning applications. If you already own an iPad/iPhone the iSense is probably your best option for a very cheap and reliable 3D scanner, as it costs just $399 and scans with a similar accuracy levels as a 3D Sense.

Technical Specifications:

3D Scanner Price: $399
Setup: Handheld – attached to iPad/iPhone6 & 6Plus
Scanning range: 0.4m-3.5m
Scan Accuracy: 1.0mm
Scan resolution: 0.9mm
Software: 3D sense
Scan Volume: 0.2 x 0.2 x 0.2m (min) to 3 x 3 x 3m (max)

Matter and Form Desktop 3D Scanner

Matter and Form 3D Scanner

The Matter and Form Desktop 3D Scanner is an affordable, accurate and easy to use 3D scanner. Following a very successful crowdfunding campaign, the Matter and Form desktop 3D scanner has gone on to establish itself as one of the most popular and reliable 3D scanners in the market. At the price of $600, the Matter and Form is hardly an investment, and yet performs just as well as many professional grade scanners. This device is a perfect fit for design studios and small businesses which requires the scanning of smaller objects.

The scanner’s fold-able structure, collapsable to a size of just 3.5 x 8.35 x 13.5 inches, and weight of around 3 kgs makes it incredibly portable. The scanner can capture a staggering 2,000 points per second and scan at resolutions of around 0.43 mm. Using the free software downloadable from Matter and Form website, one can choose to scan an object either in single color or in multicolor. The software allows advanced users to configure a few parameters such as the level of details to be captured etc. One can export the final files in full-color or mono-color in point-cloud format or watertight STL, OBJ or XYZ formats that can be imported directly into Blender, Maya or almost any other 3D printing software.

Technical Specifications:

3D Scanner Price: $519
Setup: Stationary/desktop, can be folded for portability
Scan Accuracy: details within 0.43mm; size within 0.25mm
Scanning technology: HD CMOS sensor + 2 lasers
Software: Matter and Form Scan
Max object size and weight: 25cm high, 18cm diameter, 3kg

Makerbot digitizer

Makerbot Digitizer Scanner

The MakerBot Digitizer is a popular 3D scanner due to the prevalent use of MakerBot’s existing line of 3D printers and 3D printing tools. The MakerBot Digitizer is a stationary 3D scanner designed for capturing scans of small objects. The compact design of the unit makes it very portable and together with its versatile and powerful 3D modeling software, one can easily capture and edit 3D models.

Objects up to 20x20cm can be placed on the rotating platform, while two class-1 lasers capture the details from all the sides using the multi-scan technology. Hundreds of thousands of the scanned points are then reconstructed into a mesh within the software. One can then clean and edit the models to make watertight 3D models that are ready to be 3D printed, or easily share with the 3D printing community via MakerBot’s Thingiverse.

Technical Specifications:

3D Scanner Price: $799
Setup: Desktop
Scan Accuracy: 2.0mm
Scan Resolution: 0.5mm
Scanner Technique: Multi-scan technology
Software: Makerware for Digitizer
Scan Volume: up to 20.3 x 20.3 cm (Ø x H)


Scanify fuel3D

Scanify from Fuel 3d works just like a typical digital camera. Using pre-calibrated stereo cameras and with photometric imaging, users can simply click a button and within a fraction of a second a 3D image is captured.

The Fuel3D Scanify Scanner is a handheld 3D scanner capable of capturing detailed structure and color information within a tenth of a second and the final scans are made available only within 30 seconds. It boasts the ability to capture a full 3D image with details down to 350 microns. Scanify is best-suited for capturing human faces, fabrics, flowers and leaves  where the details/texture is located on a single plane. Combined with the optional ‘Mobility pack’ comprising of a Tablet and an external battery, this 3D scanner can be very portable. The scanner offers a scanning resolution of up to 375,000 vertices and 750,000 polygons, an incredible level of detail for a handheld scanner.

Scanify uses a dual-laser stereo camera to capture high-resolution images. With the accompanying software one can stitch multiple scans together to create a complete 360 degree object. The final scans can be exported into STL, OBJ and PLY formats for easy editing in other external modeling applications.

Technical Specifications:

3D Scanner Price: $1,490
Setup: Handheld
Operating range: 350-450mm
Scan Accuracy: 350 microns (0.25 mm)
Scan Resolution: 210 x 300mm
Scanning Technology: Fusion of stereoscopic and photometric data
Software: Fuel3D Studio Starter
Scan Size: 210 x 300 mm (400mm diagonal)

Structure Scanner

Strcture Scanner Occupital

The Structure Sensor 3D scanner by occipital was succesfully launched through kickstarter. At $379, it’s one of the most versatile and affordable 3D scanners around. It’s mobile design, as an attachment to an iPad, offers high portablility. The Scanner can capture dense geometry in real-time, with scanning resolutions as high as 0.5mm and with an accuracy of up to 4mm.

Like 3D System’s iSense, Structure Sensor only functions through an iPad’s existing camera. In addition to the Structure app, the ‘structure SDK’ allows users to develop new applications and hack the scanner’s sensor for a variety of uses. Using a few third-party apps that are already available, one can use this scanner to scan 3D maps of interior spaces, measure the dimensions of a room automatically, and play games where virtual objects can interact with real-world objects. The scanner attaches to any iPad, version 2 and up, with ease, and is incredibly simple to set up.

Technical Specifications:

3D Scanner Price: $379
Setup: Handheld
Scan Range: 40cm – 3.5m
Scan Accuracy: 4mm
Scan Resolution: 0.5mm
Software: Includes free access to Structure SDK
Scanning Technique: Structured light technology

HP 3D Structured Light Scanner Pro S3 (formerly: David SLS-3 3D Scanner)

David Scanner

Structured Light Scanner Pro series  scanners are unique from other stationary or portable scanning devices as they rely on a projector based structured-light and an industrial HDMI camera with high quality lens for 3D scanning. These scanners are affordable and provide very high scanning accuracy in a matter of seconds. This 3D scanning method based on camera and lens is normally only available for Industrial-grade machines but HP has managed to bring it down to a consumer-level scanner.

The new HP 3D Structured Light Scanner Pro S3  , building off from the previous HP 3D Structured Light Scanner Pro S2  model is now available and can scan twice as fast as a Pro S2. Pro S3 stereo offers 0.05mm accuracy and a mesh density of 2.3 million vertices per scan – up from 1.2 million from Pro S2 . With the optional upgrade to the stereo package The HP 3D Structured Light Scanner Pro S3 scanner captures a scan from two angles at a time – by utilizing the additional camera as part of the stereo upgrade-  to produce higher precision scans.One can utilize the included software ‘HP pro’ to align and fuse the scans into a 360-degree model. Additionally, the ‘HP pro’ software supports other scanners such as laser scanning, and is also compatible with a variety of cameras. The scanner is portable and along with a optional turntable allows for a 3D scanning of all sides of an object, large and small (60-500mm in size).

HP Pro software is capable of editing OBJ, STL and PLY model files that can then be exported to other third-party software for further processing. The software is highly flexible and offers an integrated 3D viewer, so you can quickly review the results of a scan. The software supports other scanners as well, such as laser scanning, and is also compatible with a variety of cameras.

Technical Specifications:

3D Scanner Price: 2940 Euros (SLS-3) 2360 (SLS-2)
Setup: Portable
Scan Accuracy: up to 0.05mm (up to 0,05% of scan size)
Scan Resolution: up to 0.05mm
Scanning Technology: Structured light technology
Software: David Pro
Scan Size: 60-500mm

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