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The Best 3D Scanners of 2017

Capturing the World in 3D

3D Scanners Review

Why Use 3D Scanners?

For consumers interested in manufacturing, engineering, design, development or testing, 3D scanning can be a popular and time-saving method for capturing multi-dimensional models of objects. 3D scanners can often create higher-quality and better-fitting parts as opposed to from-scratch drawings from a modeling application.

A 3D scanner allows you to use physical objects to better conceptualize an idea or create a starting point for modeling. It can capture a textured image for immediate manipulation in a modeling application or for printing via a 3D printer. Some of the most popular 3D scanners include iSense, MakerBot Digitizer Desktop 3D Scanner and Fuel 3D.

3D scanner imaging is popular among nonenterprise consumers as this allows you to capture models of household objects or even hobby items to share with online communities. In many cases, these scanners are a popular device to purchase alongside 3D printers as it allows you to quickly replicate copies of real-world objects. And through the use of modeling software, you can make minor changes to scanned items to create wholly unique printed copies.

3D Scanners: What to Look For

At its heart, a 3D scanner’s effectiveness is defined by its scanner sensor, which enables it to capture thousands of points on an object’s surface. This in effect defines the accuracy of the model and the detail at which you can scan an object. In addition, many consumers seek portable devices that allow for on-the-go scanning of everyday objects. And no scanner is complete without additional features like modeling software to edit scanned objects and create watertight models for printing and other modeling needs.

Scanner Sensor
The primary and most important feature of any 3D scanning device is its laser sensor, as this is used to capture detailed readings of an object. Many devices utilize a dual scanner design to increase both the speed of data capture as well as its accuracy and detail. Other units may use what is called structured light, which projects light on an object's surface to capture data points during scanning. Of the two features, laser sensors are much more compact and portable whereas structured light is significantly more detailed in its scanning.

Larger enterprise 3D laser scanners are quite bulky and require a stationary location for setup and regular use. However, among nonenterprise consumers, portability is a definite plus as it allows you to easily pack up your scanner and use it while on the go. Though some consumer scanners are stationary, in that they come equipped with a turntable or need to be plugged in to a wall outlet for power, you can still find many options for handheld scanners.

Additional Features
Though the main point of interest on the best 3D scanner is its portability and sensor technology, many scanners attempt to create added value through peripheral benefits like model editing software. These applications display objects as you capture them and allow some basic editing functions to create watertight models. Some scanners offer software development kits that allow you greater functionality in your scanner’s 3D sensor capabilities, such as virtual reality.

3D scanners are a growing necessity among 3D modelers, as this influences the ease and convenience of capturing and editing models. Simply scan a real-world item, and you can capture it in its exact size, details and color. Or, if you’re using a 3D printer, you can increase the range of items you print by scanning objects for quick editing and immediate printing. A 3D scanner is not just a means of capturing high-detail images, but rather a way of better capturing the world in three dimensions.