So you've heard all about the benefits of 3D scanners and you're now planning on using one for your next job. That's great! 3D scanners are only becoming more popular these days, and the industry is even expected to be worth over $3 billion by 2025.

As you start to research 3D scanners, you may quickly become overwhelmed by the different types, options, and models available to you. 

One of the biggest questions you're going to have to ask yourself is if you want a handheld 3D scanner or a stationary one. This is a common consideration and there's no single right answer. It's all going to come down to what you're trying to accomplish. 

Interested in learning more? If so, then continue reading and we'll walk you through everything you need to know about the differences between handheld 3D scanners and stationary ones. 

 

How Does Each Technology Work?

A stationary 3D scanner is mounted to a tripod or an arm and it's fixed to a certain location. You don't pick up and move the device in order to scan. Instead, you turn the object and the device captures the scan that way.

You continue this process until all of the scans are captured of the entire object at all necessary angles. Depending on the kind of processing software that you use, some can merge the scans together automatically throughout the scanning process. However, you also might have to do this after all of the scans have been collected.

Individual scans will then be stitched together later in order to form one complete digital model.

With a handheld 3D scanner, the operator hovers around the object and "paints" it in order to get 3D scan information of the whole object. It works in a similar way to a video camera and it's able to capture objects in 3D by using continuous scanning. 

 

Resolution and Accuracy

When comparing handheld 3D scanners to stationary ones, stationary scanners tend to provide better resolution and accuracy. If your project requires the absolute best possible resolution and accuracy possible, then you'd probably want to consider a stationary device. 

The quality of a scanner relies on how it works. For example, a stationary scanner that uses structured-light technology will take a series of pictures in one snapshot and then consolidate the average in order to create one scan.

A handheld scanner that uses structured-light technology will take one image/scan per frame. The operator will then move the scanner to take another scan. You can compare it to the quality of a still photograph compared to a single frame of a video recording. 

The photograph (stationary scanner) is more often than not going to provide you with a higher quality image. With that said, handheld scanners still provide great quality, but a stationary scanner at a similar price will likely deliver slightly better results. 

Still, it's worth pointing out that many projects don't require the absolute highest quality. There are other considerations, such as ease of use and portability that may be more important to you. A handheld 3D scanner is a great device for people who want to perform reverse engineering and 3D visualization. 

 

Portability

The biggest benefit of handheld 3D scanners is how portable they are. These devices give you maximum portability when compared to stationary 3D scanners.

You can pretty much take a handheld scanner wherever you want to. There are even handheld scanners that operate on battery power so you can scan offsite, even in places where there isn't any electricity. Some scanners also support the use of a tablet in order to power the scanner's 3D software, so you can pack light when you travel. 

A stationary 3D scanner will require a laptop or desktop computer in order to power the scanning software for post-processing as well as data acquisition. Because of this, you're going to have to rely on electricity to run the system at all times. 

Handheld scanners are also useful when you're scanning objects that are too fragile or heavy to move, like dinosaur skulls, for example. 

 

Automation

If you're looking to scan many objects that are similarly sized, a stationary 3D scanner would be a good choice for you. Stationary scanners allow for a standardized automatic setup where there isn't much need for human involvement. 

Automating the scanning process is made possible with a stationary 3D scanner when you pair it with a motorized rotary turntable accessory. The operator will set the rotary table to capture a set number of scans while the object is spun horizontally 360 degrees. After the rotary table ceases to spin, the device captures a 3D scan of the object at that specific angle.

After all of the scans are captured, the scan data is automatically post-processed by the scanner by stitching and merging all of the scans together. This will create a complete 3D model.

After the object has been scanned fully, the next object will be placed on the rotary table and the whole process will start all over again. This assembly line workflow will take out a good amount of manual work for the operator. 

 

The Importance of Knowing the Differences Between Handheld 3D Scanners and Stationary 3D Scanners

As we can see, there's a lot to consider when you're deciding between a handheld 3D scanner and a stationary one. Ultimately, it's going to come down to the kind of project that you're working on and what your priorities are. Hopefully, this guide has helped you better understand the differences between these two kinds of scanners and you'll feel more confident when it's finally time to make a decision. 

SHINING 3D has launched a new handheld 3D scanning device, the EinScan Pro HD. The multi-functional device is the latest in the company’s EinScan Pro series and offers “unparalleled performance” in capturing high-res and high-accuracy scans for a range of applications.

Are you looking to purchase or rent high-quality 3D scanners? If so, then contact us today and see what we can do for you!