How 3D Scanner Works

Not a lot of people know about 3D scanners. They may seem like something out of a futuristic movie but they actually exist now. These devices are now transforming the daily operations of many major industries today.

This new technology is amazing and beneficial. It’s especially useful when used with a 3D printer. This is another innovative invention. However, the price of such a device is still too high for the regular consumer.

If you’re thinking about getting a 3D scanner, it’s important to know how it works. When you understand how this device operates, it’s easier to gauge whether you really need one or not. You can use a 3D scanner to create CAD models of things. These include parts or components of devices, rooms, and people too.

Nowadays, a lot of companies see 3D scanners as essential for their business. Actually, you can use any device as a 3D scanner. But, it must have a light or image sensor as well as a form of positioning equipment.

Such devices are phones and tablets. You can use them to measure anything in the environment. Then you can use images or lasers to create point clouds with a high density. These images are then modified into a file compatible with CAD.

In theory, it sounds simple enough. But in reality, it’s a lot more complicated. That’s why the 3D scanner technology is only starting to develop. It’s a relatively novel concept which is gaining momentum.

What are 3D scanners for?

3D scanners have different functions in big industries. But you can also use them from your own home, as long as you have the funds to obtain one. It’s best to use 3D scanners with 3D printers.

When you combine these devices, you can produce accurate prototypes or scale models of different objects. You can make these models for different reasons. You can replicate souvenirs or toys, make plans for a project or even use them to solve everyday issues.

Even if you don’t have a 3D printer to pair with the 3D scanner, you can still accomplish a lot with a 3D digital model. You can use such a model for different purposes. You can create a virtual model of a person, an object or even a location.

You can play around with the models you create or use them in design projects. As long as you are creative, you have endless possibilities with a 3D scanner!

So how do 3D scanners work?

To make it easier to understand 3D scanners, you can look at them as powerful cameras. But rather than generating pictures or videos, they produce 3D models. 3D scanners gather data about an object from its field of vision. What makes this different from a camera is the data it gathers about the object.

A scanner gathers data about the location of the object in space. A camera, on the other hand, gathers data about the appearance and color of an object. The scanner does this by measuring the distance between itself and the different points on the surface of an object.

There are 2 general types of 3D scanners. These are contact and non-contact 3D scanners. When you use a contact scanner, you need to place the object directly on the device. When you use a non-contact scanner, the device uses radiation or a laser light to collect the data about the object you’re scanning.

One significant weakness of 3D scanners is that they can only gather information from the surfaces of an object which are visible. This means that if part of the object isn’t in the scanner’s field of vision, the device won’t capture it. This poses a challenge especially when the object has complicated surfaces.

If you really want to achieve a complete rendering in 3D, you may have to do a number of separate scans. You have to scan the objects from different angles then compile the scans into one file. Fortunately, because of constant updates in the technology, doing many scans doesn’t take much time.

Types of 3D Scanners

Because of the growing demand for 3D scanners, manufacturers are finding new ways to make different versions of this device. Although prices of 3D scanners still remain high, many people and business still choose to purchase them. Here are some types of 3D scanners you can consider:

Laser scanner

Laser scanners are either mounted or handheld. These types make use of different technologies. Such technologies are phase shift, time of flight, and triangulation. In phase shift scanning, the scanner gives of a laser energy beam at a constant rate. It then calculates the phase shift of the laser energy which returns. It does this to measure distance. The basis of time of flight scanning is the light impulse of the laser.

The scanner sends the impulse to the object which it scans. It then calculates the distance of the object based on the time it sends the laser out until the light gets captured by the special sensor. This special sensor is inside the scanner itself. Finally, in triangulation scanning, the scanner just measures the size and shape of the object exactly.

3D White Light Scanner

These kinds of 3D scanners make use of white light. They can use LEDs or halogen lights to project a collection of pixels. These pixels deform when they hit the surface of the scanned object. Then, the scanner reconstructs a 3D model of the object from the measurements taken from the deformation of the pixels.

This type of scanner has a significant benefit over laser scanners. The light emitted by this scanner to capture the target object doesn’t cause harm to human eyes. Laser light, on the other hand, can cause harm. So you have to be careful when using a laser scanner.

Photogrammetric 3D Scanner

These types of scanners make use of older technology. Photogrammetry is not a new concept. In fact, the main function of this technology used to be for mapping or topography. This type of scanner takes a number of photographs. Then it plots the surface points of the object using those photographs.

The concept is similar to capturing pathways of motion. It can also make use of remote sensing or high-speed imaging to identify, calculate and document 2D or 3D axes.

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