Revealed

A blog about scientific and medical visualization and all that’s involved.

Desktop 3D Scanner

Posted by Janet on February 23, 2009

Update: Regarding my comment about the object selection option below, here is a response from Ronny I. of NextEngine.

Hi Janet,
You’ve have a very interesting background. We’re constantly thinking of ways to improve our product. I’ve added your request to add the feature to trim only what is visible.
Ronny I.
NextEngine

3dscanner1

Recently I had the opportunity to try the NextEngine Desktop 3D Scanner. This is a laser scanner that scans three-dimensional objects. The data is imported into its corresponding software for editing, and the final model can be brought into other programs for further refinement.

I was surprised by how easy both the scanner and the software were to use. They actually work like they were supposed to. The scanner itself was nice because it’s small enough to fit right on your desk, and connects to your PC (sorry, PC only) via USB. It comes with a rotating platform that holds your object. My favorite part is the set up. Depending on the size of your object, the platform is placed closer or further from the scanner to allow the scanner to capture the whole object. The distance is built into the scanner settings, and by simply threading the cord that connects the stand and the scanner through different openings, the stand is automatically placed at the optimal distance. There is a part that can be attached to the platform to help hold your objects in place (not shown in the picture above). If you don’t want this part to be in the way, clay also works nicely for holding the object in place.

I was quite impressed with the software too. The last time I used a (different) 3D scanner, its corresponding software was a pain to deal with, both in function and interface. The other software had a few bugs, so I often got error messages that prevented me from continuing with my tasks. It also did not perform as well as it should. For example, I would always have trouble filling “holes” in my model–filling one hole opened up another. I haven’t had any problems with this scanner’s software, ScanStudio. The interface was easy to understand and navigation was a breeze. The performance was pretty impressive even though sometimes I do have to manually align different “shells” of the model. So far I haven’t encountered any bugs yet. My only complaint is that there is no option for selecting only the front of the object, so you have to be a little creative when making a selection. (Maybe they fixed the problem now–I’m probably using an older version)

I think the best part about this scanner is the price. At $3000, it includes the scanner, the software, other accessories, and is entirely affordable by a single person. Many scanners cost A LOT more. In my opinion, it holds up to its claim that it “outperforms many $25,000+ scanners.” Don’t worry about size either, unless you are trying to scan something very big. The fact that the scanner is small does not limit it to scan small things. Medium sized objects can be scanned in sections and then stitched together in the software.

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2 Responses to “Desktop 3D Scanner”

  1. That is great. Thank you for putting that out. I am trying to start working as a forensic artist and that scanner seems to be exactly the right tool to scan skulls for digital 3D facial reconstructions. Again, thanks. Filipe

    • Rob Jansen said

      A skull would be a very good item to scan. It is about the right size to fit on the auto positioner and the software is very well able to fill the holes and cracks in the skull – you may have to open up the holes for the eye or have a special model for the part of the eye that sticks out to ‘glue’ it in there.
      There are enough CAD programs available that will allow you to place new faces at an offset from the skull (or place pins on the skull and model a face in between these pins).

      But even it you want/need to do things by hand: scan in the object, 3D print and work on that copy without possibly ruining any evidence.

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