You may have heard of a 3D scanner, but do you know how they're used? This article will tell you exactly what you need to know.

3D scanners and 3D printers have become popular in recent years. 3D technology is helping us to develop solutions across many industries.

It's made an impact on the way we create prosthetics for amputees. The ability to extrude layer upon layer of concrete has changed how we build houses. It's made a difference in automotive manufacturing, fashion, and prototyping across all industries.

The rapid growth in the number of 3D printers has created a growing demand for more and more 3D data. Creating the "right" kind of data is becoming more and more important. Luckily, scanning objects into virtual reality (VR) is also easier than ever before.

We can thank advancements in the software for that. These programs allow you to capture the physical image's data with the scanner. You then create files that are then sent to the 3D printer.

In this article, we'll talk about how easy it is now - and will continue to be - to use technology like this. So grab a notepad, get comfortable, and read on!


3D Scanner: Fixed vs. Portable

The first thing you will have to decide is whether you want a fixed or handheld 3D scanner. Fixed scanners, although more expensive, can be more accurate. Because they are mounted, they do not move while scanning.

Portable scanners are more affordable, but the quality of the scan isn't always as good. Stability and perspective are not easy to maintain when the scanner is being held by hand.

Portable scanners are easier to use than fixed scanners. The operator doesn't need any training, but if they haven't used a 3D scanner, there may be issues getting a good scan. Moving too fast or too slow will result in a poor result.

Handheld 3D scanners need less space than fixed scanners, so they're easier to store. Added to this, handheld 3D scanners are portable, making them easy to use anywhere. Fixed 3D scanners need a stable work surface and access to electricity.


Shed a Little Light on the Subject

A 3D scanner requires light to operate and create a digital representation of an object. The most common way to project a pattern onto an object is through structured light. You can do this with LEDs, lasers, or even ambient room light alone.

To get the best results from your 3D scanner, you will need to prepare the object you want to scan.

Give the surface of your object a quick spray with a temporary powder coat. If you don't have access to a commercial product, an even coating of talcum powder works too! This coating will help the 3D scanner to read the surface of your object better.

This is especially helpful if your object has many small details or if it’s shiny and reflective. This gives the 3D scanner an idea of how to interpret each point as it moves around, building up your digital model. The powder helps reflect light back to the camera of the 3D scanner. This makes it easier to capture an accurate representation of what's in front of you.

The projected pattern creates shadows on the surface of an object. These patterns are then captured by the 3D scanner's camera sensor array. A 3D scanner app then takes sets of images from all around your object.

The software then creates a digital model (or mesh). This digital model is then rendered for a 3D printer. You could also use your rendered files to create an animation or an avatar.


Keep the Subject of Your Scan Still

The subject of your scan needs to remain still during the process. The scanner won't be able to create a 3D image if it isn't stable. You can use a tripod and mount the scanner on it. Or, you may ask someone else to hold the scanner steady for you.

Another option is to use a remote control (like those used for cameras). This way, you won't have to touch anything during the scanning process. This is particularly useful if you're scanning a larger item, such as an object or person. Smaller objects are easier to scan.

If you need to scan a person, make sure they're wearing solid-colored clothing. The scanner can't detect patterns or designs on clothes. You may also want to remove any accessories they are wearing, such as jewelry or glasses.

After you have your subject ready, take a few test scans. This will help you get used to the scanning process and make sure everything is working properly. You may also want to experiment with different lighting conditions as well.

If you're scanning an object with a reflective surface, try placing a sheet of paper underneath it. This will help reflect light back into the scanner and create better images.


Select an Appropriate Position for Your Scanner

As a rule, the scanner should be positioned in a way that allows it to scan the object without moving. This is essential for ensuring that you will get accurate data.

Selecting an appropriate position for your 3D scanner is essential to the process of scanning. The measuring arm, tracked 3D scanner, structured light, and handheld 3D scanner all have different positions that are suitable for their respective types of scanners.

In most instances, you would place the object you want to scan on top of a table. The object is either placed on a turntable, or the scanner rotates around the object. In both instances, it's possible to scan different sections of the item as necessary.

If you are scanning an entire person or a large object, this positioning is perfect. It gives you mobility while still providing accurate data.

Measuring arm and tracked 3D scanners are best placed in a stationary position. Structured light and handheld 3D scanners need you to move around the object while you are scanning it.

Because of this difference in positioning, it’s important to consider how you will use your 3D printer. Make that decision before choosing which 3D scanner is best for your needs.


Clean up the Scanned File Afterwards

Once your scan is complete, you can clean up the file using Photoshop. Go to 'File' and select 'Open'. Navigate to the folder where you saved your scans, select one of them, and click 'Open'.

Now that you're in Photoshop go to 'File' and choose 'Automate | Batch'. You'll see a window appear with some options for cleaning up your image. Click on the second option titled: 'Remove Color Cast' (a box will appear). Select all the images that are in this folder, then hit OK when you're done. Photoshop will now fix these photos, so they have no shadows or unwanted colors!


The Right Apps for the Job

Once you've scanned your object, you might have to import it into more than one software program. Most 3D printers need a file in STL format, which is a file that represents the outline of an object. It can also contain information about color and material type.

The scanner software package might give you options for how to export your scan data: a .obj or .ply file. Both files will work in most 3D printing apps. But, make sure you save them in the format you need before exporting them.

Some scanners don't offer any options, so if it's not obvious how to export an object, consult the app user guide. If that's not helpful, contact the developer's customer support.


3D Technology Is Innovating

The use of 3D technology is expanding, with applications in all kinds of fields. Medicine, engineering, manufacturing, entertainment, and more, are all benefiting from 3D printing.

Defense forces use 3D scanning technology to create models of terrain. This information is necessary to plan strategic attacks. Militaries can develop state-of-the-art equipment and protection for their soldiers using 3D printers.

In space exploration and research, we are able to create a 3D model of the surface of other planets from images! With these models, we can create a better understanding of what we could encounter there.


Get It Done With 3D Scanning and Printing

3D scanners are a great tool for anyone who wants to reverse engineer physical objects. They are innovative in architectural design, medical imaging, and military reconnaissance.

The only thing that limits their use is your imagination. If you can dream it up, then chances are there's already someone out there working on making it happen.

If you are looking for a high-quality 3D scanner, please feel free to contact us. Let's talk about how we can help you!