A Look at 3D Scanners



3D Scanners for 3D Printing

Although 3D scanners don’t enjoy as much limelight as 3D printers, scanning is a large part of the 3D production puzzle. Without robust, 3D scanning technology, engineers and designers must create part patterns entirely by hand. Although computer drafting gives more freedom to the designer, this methodology is limited if your goal is to duplicate parts, create lifelike models, or imitate organic matter.


Enter the 3D scanner. 3D scanners – which come in simple handheld devices to complex 3D scanning docks – translate forms, colors, and solid shapes into digestible data that can be used to create 3D parts. Many projects benefit from a bit of both scanned content and created content for 3D printed output that blurs the lines between reality and imagination.


These are our favorite 3D scanners on the market today to get your next project moving:


  1. Flashforge Observer 3D Scanner: By far, the Flashforge Observer is our favorite 3D scanner. The scanner can capture objects accurately down to .2mm of precision and takes less than 100 seconds for a full body-sized scan. Because the scanner also captures your subject’s color profile, it’s one of the most highly precise 3D scanners available. With the capability to save scans as ASC, OBJ, STL files and more – you can begin editing and slicing your scan as soon as the imaging is complete.


  1. Fuel3D Scanify Handheld 3D Scanner: The Fuel3D Scanify Handheld scanner is the 3D scanner of choice for convenience junkies. The scanner’s easy-to-use interface, portability, and quick scanning capabilities make this a favorite for artists, architects, and creators trying to capture color and texture on the go. Output is limited to OBJ, STL and PLY files, but since these are some of the most common 3D printing pattern outputs, the simplicity will delight by streamlining your decision making process.


  1. MakerBot Digitizer Desktop 3D Scanner: If you love the MakerBot Replicator, MakerBot MakerWare, or Thingiverse, you’ll love their Digitizer Desktop 3D scanner. This stationary 3D scanner allows you to scan and edit 3D models with ease and share across the MakerBot ecosystem for seamless project execution from start to finish. Because the desktop scanner scans 20.3 cm x 20.3 cm objects, all your output will be ready to print via your MakerBot desktop printer – which (unsurprisingly) boasts similar production volumes – making your production easier, quicker, and cleaner.


  1. Matter and Form 3D Scanner: Desktop scanning gets easier with turntable style imaging for fast and accurate results. Although the Matter and Form 3D scanner is a desktop tool, the foldable scan bed and lightweight frame allow you to take the scanner with you for projects outside your design studio. Even with the scanner’s portability, it offers 200 microns (0.2mm) resolution for high performance scanning and creation.


These scanners perfectly complement your printing projects for a greater level of detail when translating the world into 3D printed parts and creations. If you’re unsure which 3D scanner is best for your 3D printer or your 3D printing needs, we can help you customize a solution to fit your project profiles.

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  • Dustin Heigl
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