A 3D scanner was not part of the MIT inventory, but using one is kind of fun. So why not build one yourself? Like the FABSCAN, an open source DIY scanner, originating from FabLab RWTH Aachen, in Germany. Running on a Raspberry Pi. A complete kit is available for € 195 and René Bohne and community offer excellent support and enthousiasm. And an Instructable.
Or wait for the Kickstarter PHIZ by KIRI Innovation. A small turntable plus an attachment with a line laser that docks a smartphone and uses it camera. Was funded 300%. Will cost around $ 300. Delivery somewehere 2020.
Things like the Kickstarter Structure Sensor appeared: a scanner you can clip on an iPad. They raised $1.290.439 from a goal of 100K. The Structure is shipping now from $ 379. It looks very promising.
The** iSense from Cubify** (=3D Systems) is the same thing. It is available for the iPhone as well in a 3D-printed phone case.
Cubify has also an affordable hand-held scanner, the SENSE for $ 329. Windows and Mac. Its software has a nice function to make the scan watertight.
At the low end there is the XYZ handheld scanner 60 x 60 cms with a resolution of 1.5 mm. € 200
The nice thing is that you can clip it on your laptopscreen which is convenient for scanning. It is Windows only, but ours was Windows sometimes, for inexplicable reasons. We threw them out in favor of the Sense.
The Matter and Form uses a rotating platform and two lasers on a Z-axis. It is meant for smaller objects up to 25 cms high. Price went up to $ 749
An other Kickstarter was the Fuel 3D scanner initiative, aiming for a hand held scanner under $ 1000, it is now avaliable under the name SCANIFY for € 1199 ex tax. It requires the provided small tracking targets for calibration.
A good small commercial scanner is the NEXTENGINE, which has been around for years and costs about $ 3000. FabLab Groningen has one, with a rotating platform. We used it and it works quite well, though closing a scan did take quite some effort. Windows only.
As mentioned above: along the same principle is Francis Engelmann’s original FABSCAN. Here a line-laser is mounted on a steppermoter under software control and also the object is on a rotating platform with a steppermotor. We built one and donated it to an other fablab. Now there is the FabScan Pi, with a complete instructable,
The Kickstarter Rubicon has the same concept with a dual laser for $ 499 (they raised 57k from a wanted 25k)
And a comparable Italian Dimbody at Indiegogo. They are too late, I am afraid. Ref: Balthasar Gracián. Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia, 1647, lxiii
Makerbot Industries announced a Makerbot Digitizer for October 2013 for $ 1550. In March 2016 down to $ 799.
There is another way too: take 40 odd photo’s and turn them into a .stl file. That is what 123D Catch does. It is free and also available on your smartphone.
There are more alternatives that use a passive optical approach, rather than an active approach. In other words, they simply take pictures and derive a 3D model of a foreground subject by tracking how the background shifts from image to image. This is called photogrammetry.
Examples of these apps include: Scann3D, Trnio, and Qlone.
The special edition of MAKE magazine ‘The Ultimate Guide to 3D-printing’ provides insight in different scanning methods.
For experimenting there is the Kinect.
Please note that most scans will require manual post-processing to close the scan.