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There have been a few DIY solutions for this during the years (probably where makerbot stole it from in the first place). Try searching around the net for those and see what they offer before you decide to pay the insane price of makerbot's solution. It's been many years since I tried it myself but I think there was some software called David-somethingsomething that you used together with a laserpointer and a webcam, may be a place to start at least.

There's also the photo based solutions like 123d catch http://www.123dapp.com/catch


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I think you can also use the Kinect sensor from the Xbox, although resolution isn't so great.


I'm using the Kinect sensor laying around from my xbox, the only investment needed was a 15€ external power supply found on the net.

Download the free windows Kinect SDK software and start playing :-P.

I know a Kinect sensor is sold for PC USB use. so if you think of buying one, buy the PC version, better resolution.

Type and search for scanner in the above search bar. A lot written on this forum.


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Thehttp://www.david-3d.com software offers two types of webcam-based scanning - either laser scanning, which requires a laser line generator (not a simple laser pointer, but not a lot more expensive), or structured-light scanning, using a projector to display patterns onto the object being scanned. The results can be pretty good, and it can offer high resolution on small objects, while still working well on objects up to about 1m or so in size. It's a little fiddly to set up and calibrate on the front end, but a good choice if you can dedicate the space to have a permanent 'scanning booth'.

Other choices use Kinect-like technology. The standard X-box kinect sensor works well, and indeed is preferred over the desktop version if you're using a Mac, as there can be driver issues on the desktop version. There are various programs that work for this type of scanning, including http://www.kscan3d.com, and my personal favorite, http://skanect.manctl.com (which is pretty much the only 3D scanning software that has a native Mac version). The Kinect isn't a bad choice to get started - it's good enough for scanning things that are the size of, say, a person's head and shoulders with reasonable resolution - but the current best scanner to use is the Primesense Carmine v1.09. This technology has the advantage of being fairly portable, and requiring relatively little pre-configuration and calibration.

As a hybrid, we are now starting to see solutions emerging like the http://structure.io sensor, which was developed by Skanect's parent company, and uses a custom Primesense sensor unit, in a dedicated mount designed for use on an iPad or similar tool. It pairs with the native camera for creating higher quality colored/textured scans, and can either use the iPad's own GPU for the number-crunching, or optionally connect back to a computer running Skanect.

Then finally there are photo-based scanners such as 123D-Catch, which use parallax between multiples photographs to build a 3D model. These are free or very cheap, but in my experience just don't work very well - particularly for 3D printing. They rely heavily on the image data that gets mapped into the finished 3D mesh for their effect; the finished object might not look too bad with the texture applied, as the eye can interpolate a lot of structure from the shading and colors. But once you remove the color cues - as happens with most 3D printing - then you're left with the underlying shape, which is usually pretty rough.

Whichever solution you pick, chances are you'll need to use some sort of 3D sculpting tool on the finished scan to clean it up and get it ready for printing. This is a print I did from a Skanect/Carmine v1.09 scan:

Finished print


And this was the clean-up process needed to get the scan ready to print:




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Im currently using an X-Box Kinect with the Skanect which is pretty good for large scans although think that's down to the Kinect. I am also keeping a look out on the Matterform Scanner http://www.matterform.net/

At the moment the Primesense Carmine v1.09 doesn't seem to be available :(


Just been looking at the Matterform - looks interesting (and at a decent price point!)


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