Entries in scanner (61)
by General Fabb
A new 3D scanning option has appeared, courtesy of a group in Ottawa. The Cirri scanner hopes to provide a "professional 3D scanning solution".
Cirri isn't a piece of hardware - instead it's a software solution that uses multiple digital images of a subject to develop a true 3D model. This means that you can use your camera (even "uncalibrated cameras") to collect images of items large and small, inside and in the wild outside.
But wait, there are already services that provide this function, aren't there? Yes - 123D Catch is one notable option. But Cirri's goal is to deliver much higher quality scans using fewer images in a simplified workflow. The software will capture scans in full color and even fill holes to prepare printable 3D models.
We haven't been able to test the windows-based software in our lab yet, but the examples shown on their Indiegogo site look very good: high resolution, accurate scans of some pretty complex objects.
The product is available for pre-purchase on Indiegogo, with two versions offered: Cirri Lite for USD$199 (targeted at USD$399 after launch) and the full version of Cirri that includes scale and other professional features for USD$599 (USD$899 after launch).
3D Systems announced an inexpensive personal 3D scanner last week, but they also announced a professional 3D scanning solution, too.
The new GeoMagic Capture bundle is a combination of a blue-LED 3D scanner and application-specific software to integrate the scan directly into several high-end 3D modeling solutions, including: SolidWorks, SpaceClaim, Design X, Design Direct, Control and Verify.
The product is definitely not for home users, as it's priced from USD$15,000 and up. However, we expect that 3D Systems' increasing interest in professional scanning recently will have a trickle-down effect, where learnings and technologies will bolster their consumer offerings in the near future.
Via 3D Systems
We spoke with Dr. Alastair Buchanan, the man behind the Cubik full-color tabletop 3D scanner at the London 2013 3D Printshow.
The device is a tabletop unit, meaning you can only scan items that will fit into its scan chamber. It's also a sealed chamber, meaning that you can operate the scanner in a variety of light conditions without worry - some other scanners are "open air" and thus subject to lighting effects.
The Cubik does not use lasers. Instead it uses a proprietary form of structured light processing to capture scans. If you're not familiar with "structured light", it simply means projecting a known patter of light, say a checkerboard pattern, on an object and then observing how the pattern shifts while the object is rotated.
Even better, the Cubik does not use a triangulation approach. Instead it uses a "phase shift" process that eliminates occlusion, meaning you get better scans. And they're in color, too.
The device processes the capture to produce printable STL or PLY (for color) files, typically in up to 50-150 micron resolution.
The Cubik was offered on Kickstarter previously, where it gained £97,200 (USD$156,000) as some 150 units were sold. Today the device goes for £699 (USD$1124).
We're told the device could be shipping by end of November.
Cubify announced the "Sense 3D Scanner" in a surprise announcement. The 3D printer manufacturer has thus far produced only 3D printers, making the Sense a completely new product line.
It's a handheld 3D scanner capable of rapidly capturing 3D shapes. We examined the specifications for the device and noted the following:
- The scan volume ranges from 20cm to 300cm-sided cubic volumes. It seems that the resolution is dependent on the volume selected; in other words, there's a fixed number of "pixels" that are spread over the scan volume, up to 400,000 triangles
- The scan unit itself is made by Primesense, the same folks who produce the scanner inside Microsoft's Kinect device. It's laser-based, but don't worry - it's classified as "eye-safe"
- File output is either STL or PLY (which contains color textures, meaning you can capture color scans with the Sense). These are universal formats, meaning you are free to use them with non-Cubify 3D printers or other software packages
- The scanner is matched to proprietary software that comes with the Sense. It's keyed, so that you must "activate" your scanner to have it work with the software
- The software converts the raw scan data into a 3D model, fills the inevitable scan holes and performs basic editing, making it capable of producing a printable 3D model
The Sense is priced at USD$399 and is available now. Note that this price is fantastically less than MakerBot's Digitizer, which is priced at USD$1550. We'll have to wait for samples to see the difference in scan quality.
However, the Sense is handheld and you can use it to scan objects much larger than you could place on MakerBot's turntable device.
We haven't yet seen the Sense in action, but it is likely sufficient for most users. If it uses the same hardware as the Kinect, the scans are probably insufficient for professional use. But the Sense will solve a major problem for Cubify and other 3D printer manufacturers: how to find great 3D models for printing. With the Sense you just make them yourself; no need for 3D modeling software.
MakerBot recently issued some tips and instructions on how to best use their new Digitizer 3D scanner, with a focus on lighting. We've been fiddling with 3D scanners in the lab and have to agree: lighting is critical.
Regardless of the scanner used, be it MakerBot's, a cheap Kinect or a USD$50K scanner, lighting is perhaps more important than the choice of scanner.
One problem we've encountered many times is the need for consistent lighting in all directions. When capturing color information (say while using 123D Catch), your camera's exposure may vary as you move about the subject. Similarly, lighting effects may affect your turntable scan as surfaces are exposed to different lighting.
It is difficult to arrange the perfect lighting setup, short of effectively building a photo studio. However, there's one way to get decent lighting that's pretty easy:
Go outside on a cloudy day. The light will be bright but diffuse and from all directions.
Just make sure it's not raining.
There's a fascinating new iOS app that can capture true 3D images: Seene.
The app, available at no charge, requires you to take four still images of a subject from slightly different viewpoints. Typically you'd image from "four corners", upper left, upper right, lower right and lower left. The app then digests the images into a color 3D image that appears on the iOS screen.
By tilting your screen to and fro you'll see the subject from alternate angles. The image can be posted on their social network for liking by others. Note - it only captures a frontal view; it does not handle a 360 degree scan.
What we don't see in this fun app is a way to export a 3D model that you could print, or at least import into a 3D modeling program. Even capturing a frontal view would be quite useful in modeling.
That's a little disappointing, but the app is free and the notion of 3D printing has yet to get through to everyone.
Via iPhone in Canada
A new approach to capturing 3D scans of extremely large objects has been pioneered by senseFly, who produce the eBee drone series. They teamed with Drone Adventures, an organization dedicated to demonstrating the power of drones, to capture a detailed scan of the Matterhorn, Europe's tallest mountain.
A team scaled the mountain and then released eBee drones that followed specific flight paths designed on the fly by the drones themselves (see image above). As you might imagine, the drones could not fly up the mountain on their own, so they had to be launched by hand at mountaintop. To finalize the capture, the drones required only:
- 11 flights
- 5:40 flight time
- 2188 images
- 263.6km flown
Once a model is captured, it of course can be 3D printed - if the 3D model file is released. In this case, we don't think so.
Nevertheless, this technology could obviously be used to capture detailed scans of any large structure, including not only natural features, but buildings, bridges, homes and anything else that's outside.
If you hear a buzzing noise, smile.
Via IEEE Spectrum
A new process for scanning microscopic objects has been developed at Penn State. The process involves a nanosecond-pulse laser that slices microscopic objects.
You can see the results above in a 3D model obtained from a maize root.
This is a destructive process, as the scanned object is placed on a moving platform, where the laser progressively zaps exterior layers. Each exposed layer is imaged, and these images are then combined in software to produce a full-color 3D model of the original object. But you kind of lose the object, slightly. Well, totally.
3D printing such models could be useful for teaching medical and anatomy students the interior structures of biological objects, but there could be a more fascinating use in the distant future.
Imagine a technology that could 3D print different forms of living tissue. This technology is actually being developed now, but it's pretty crude at the moment. Eventually it could become very capable - and by having 3D models of interior structures, we would theoretically be able to print very complex biological objects.
For now, however, we can examine the scanned plant roots.
Matterform's fundraising campaign closed this spring achieving a total of "only" six times their target, but until now that was the only way to order one of their attractive tabletop 3D scanners. We received word from Co-Founder Adam Brandejs that their website now accepts pre-orders.
We were also informed that the latest version of the device can now scan with up to 0.25mm accuracy, meaning that the scans will turn out wonderfully when printed with a personal 3D printer. They've also improved the industrial design with a few tweaks as you can see in the above image. We especially like the way it folds up to become portable.
Finally, we must talk about the price. This scanner is priced at a mere USD$579. Why is this so interesting? Because its competitor, the MakerBot Digitizer, is priced at USD$1400 (USD$1550 with optional support program added), almost three times as much for a very similar function.
The Matterform 3D Scanner has one other major advantage over the MakerBot Digitizer: it captures full color 3D scans.
If you need a tabletop 3D scanner, best check them out.
The folks who developed Skanect, one of the best software solutions for 3D scanning with your Microsoft Kinect, have launched a new scanning venture: the Structure Sensor.
Occipital, the company behind the sensor, bills it as "the world's first 3D sensor for mobile devices." The device attaches to iOS devices via the Lightning connector, meaning iPad 4 and up. iPhone 5 and other Lightning-equipped iOS devices are not officially supported, but we get the feeling they'll work fine.
Interestingly, the launch is for the hardware product, not so much about the software. This, from a company that has always produced software is a dramatic shift.
That said, it's a pretty straightforward device: a Primesense Carmine sensor is embedded inside a precision-cut aluminum case, equipped with its own four-hour battery. Occipital is providing an SDK for software makers to produce any kind of application they can imagine that uses the infrared sensing device. Think of shocking 3D virtual reality applications, for example.
The application we're most interested in is, of course, 3D scanning. The Structure Sensor, when plugged into your iOS device, could significantly change the state of scanning simply because of convenience. You take more pictures when you always have your camera with you, right? You'll take more 3D scans because you'll have the sensor with you, too.
The sensor is currently priced for pre-order as low as USD$349, but that may not last long. We're not even going to speculate about the success of the Structure Sensor; their fundraising campaign hit its goal of USD$100,000 in mere hours after it launched yesterday. Where the total will go, no one knows.
We do know, however, that a heck of a lot of Structure Sensors will be made.