Unlock 3D Magic: Comprehensive Guide to Scanning Objects for Print

Mastering the Art of 3D Scanning for 3D Printing Adventures


3D scanning for 3D printing can initially seem like a challenging endeavor. However, with the right tools and a little guidance, you’ll be crafting awe-inspiring models in no time! Let’s dive deep into the world of 3D scanning and discover how you can transform everyday objects into 3D masterpieces.

How to Perfectly Scan 3D Objects for Printing: Either invest in a dedicated 3D scanner or harness the power of your smartphone or camera. Capture multiple angles of your object, then amalgamate those images using photogrammetry to generate a 3D model. And remember, optimal lighting conditions can make or break your scanning process!

Can I Really Scan an Object for 3D Printing?

Absolutely! With evolving technology, scanning objects to reproduce them in 3D has become a reality. Case in point, a talented graduate student once 3D scanned and printed a Shuvosaurid Skeleton—a prehistoric reptilian relic—for an exhibition. The sophisticated Artec Spider, costing approximately $25,000, played a pivotal role in this project. But worry not, for those on a budget, there are economical 3D scanners and complimentary techniques like photogrammetry.

He leveraged the MorphoSource database—an open-access platform hosting 3D scans of myriad creatures and fossils. Following scanning, he utilized the AVIZO software to process and prepare the model for printing.

When we gaze around our homes or even in garages, there’s a treasure trove of objects waiting to be 3D scanned and printed. Over the years, many have successfully done so. For instance, an innovative individual once scanned and recreated a friend’s entire farm! Aided by a drone, he initiated a mesh model using the expensive Pix4D software and later refined it using Meshmixer. For those conscious of their purse strings, the free Meshroom software can be a fantastic alternative.

The detailing in drone-derived scans can be impressive, often achieving approximately 3cm per pixel resolution, influenced by the drone’s camera and its flying altitude.

Dive Deeper Into 3D Scanning:

Scanning with Smartphone Apps: Modern smartphones, often equipped with LiDAR technology, can be powerful 3D scanning tools. Here are some apps to get you started:

1. Polycam App: Exclusively for Apple devices, Polycam is the go-to app for 3D scanning, boasting a 4.8/5.0 rating from thousands of satisfied users. From capturing intricate models to editing directly on your device, it offers a seamless experience.

2. Trnio App: This app offers a hassle-free 3D scanning experience. Thanks to its recent updates, scanning is swifter and more efficient.

Embark on Photogrammetry: A foundation for many apps, you can use direct photos and then process them through specialized software to generate a 3D representation.

1. Use Camera – Phone/GoPro Camera: A GoPro camera can be an invaluable tool for 3D scanning. Consistent lighting and robust software like COLMAP and Meshroom can aid in producing perfect scans.

2. Professional Handheld Scanner – Thunk3D Fisher: This scanner is not just about capturing details; it’s about precision. It’s a marvel for those seeking high-definition scans.

3. Raspberry Pi-Based OpenScan Mini: An exciting combination of the Raspberry Pi and an Arducam 16mp camera can lead to breathtaking 3D scans when used appropriately.

Thinking Out-of-the-Box – Paper Scanner: An unconventional yet effective method! Scan broken parts, process them digitally, and voilà, you have a 3D model ready for printing.

What’s the Damage? – Cost of 3D Scanning:

Prices vary depending on object size, detail intricacy, and location. While you can dabble in DIY with free software, professional 3D scanners can range from $50 DIY kits to high-end machines like the Artec Eva, priced at around $15,000.

Seeking a Free Alternative?

Absolutely possible! With an array of software apps and the photogrammetry technique, you can craft high-resolution 3D scans without burning a hole in your pocket. Convert your 3D scans or photos to STL files using dedicated software, and you’re all set for the 3D printing journey.