3D scanning plays a vital role both at the start and finish of any 3D fabrication workflow process.

Researchers, product designers, and engineers use the best 3D scanner solutions as a more efficient and faster way of constructing digital models, be it for the referencing of the human body’s exact shape, the incorporation of existing designs through reverse engineering or the digitization of hand-sculpted clay designs. 

Once the fabrication process is over, 3D scanning helps verify how accurate a 3D printed area is and supports overall quality control.

A scanner can also help in performance, for instance, the scanning of deformed parts to help show you what needs to be reinforced on the overall design when it’s next revised. 

With so many product options available for you to choose from, it can sometimes be hard picking the 3D scanning system that best suits your needs as well as one that’s within your budget. In this article, you’ll find a few things you should consider before buying a 3D scanner.

 

Volume And Coverage

The area that can be captured by a 3D scanner varies significantly between scanners.

You need to find one that fits both your resolution and size requirements without having a lot of overhead costs because cost usually increases with the scan volume.

Handheld 3D scanner solutions can be moved around the object manually and have fewer size constraints as compared to their desktop counterparts.

Even the most inexpensive handheld 3D scanner option can capture images of things that are the size of a soccer ball to a whole room.

High-end 3D scanners have even wider ranges and are capable of filling the niche for the things that need precise measurements.

If some parts of the model can’t be captured by the 3D scanner, then this could cause gaps in the overall model. However, small missing sections can automatically be repaired with certain scan software, which helps in the eventual creation of a workable 3D printable model.

Unfortunately, repaired holes aren’t always as accurate as the original. 

 

Scanner Accuracy vs Price

3D scanner accuracy considerably varies between different technologies, and high accuracy levels often come at an equally high cost.

With accuracy levels that range from 0.1mm, or sometimes better, structured and laser light 3D scanners often are a perfect fit alongside the high-resolution 3D printer solutions. 

Both laser 3D and structured light scanners employ the use of projected light, as well as offset cameras, to triangulate points the object being scanned. Laser 3D scanners project, on the object, laser lines.

Structured light scanners, on the other hand, use a digital projector to project focused grids.

Structured light scanners can provide higher accuracy levels than their laser-based scanner counterparts because of the noise produced by laser speckle patterns. 

Other than the accuracy between actual locations and measured points, 3D scanning units also vary widely when it comes to resolution, which are the distances between captured points at given scan distances.

All in all, it can be said that structured light scanners tend to provide better accuracy and resolution compared to their laser scanner counterparts.

 

Low-Cost 3D Scanning

The high entry costs for structured-light and laser 3D scanning units can prove prohibitive, however, there are also many low-cost systems available to you that can still get the job done right.

Low-cost 3D scanners have the capability of delivering enough performance for most real-world applications. Not all situations require high levels of accuracy. 

Furthermore, some low-cost 3D scanners can even have some unique advantages to offer, the likes of scan size and speed, which makes them interesting solutions in their own right.

The 3 main categories of low-cost 3D scanners include; entry-level desktop laser scanners, photogrammetry and infrared (IR) depth-sensing cameras. 

Depth-sensing cameras project fields of infrared dots to sample the 3D scene. These types of cameras are very easy to use and are the 3D scanning solutions that happen to be the least expensive. However, the resolution and accuracy they provide vary, which is usually bigger than 1mm, and they tend to lose finer details as well.  

Photogrammetry options use huge sets of photos that are analyzed automatically to come up with a printable digital 3D model.

Under ideal situations, the finer details of an object captured by photogrammetry can sometimes rival those captured by laser 3D scanner units.

Overall, though, geometric accuracy is often much worse because the camera’s position lacks fixed reference points. 

 

Speed

As far as speed is concerned, this article will be referring to how quickly the scanner, in question, can capture an object at any given scenario.

The way speed is measured varies depending on what type of tech is being used by the device. For instance, the speed of structured-light scanner units is calculated by the number of points and the number of frames captured per second. 

Some advanced white-light scanners only require a second to capture 2-million points and make 16 frames of the object.

Fast 3D scanners will allow their users to capture objects much quicker, boosting productivity and eliminating unnecessary costs. This becomes even more important during those costly and large projects running on tight schedules. 

 

Choose The Best 3D Scanner That Meets Your Needs 

When it comes to choosing the best 3D scanner, a lot of people tend to focus on the technologies the scanners use.

As far as 3D scanning tech is concerned, let us just say that most, if not all, the modern scanning tech is actually pretty great.

This basically means that it really all depends on the type of object you intend to capture, as well as the results you’re looking to get out of the whole process. 

When picking the right 3D scanner for yourself, avoid putting a lot of focus on what technologies the scanner uses.

This really isn’t that relevant and might end up confusing you even further. Concentrate on what will help accomplish the task at hand. Hopefully, this article has been just what you needed. 

If you are still looking for the right 3d scanning solution for your needs, contact us today to learn more about how we can help.