Inside A Typical Scan Job

When a client contacts us for 3D scanning, the first 4 questions we ask are;

“What do you want us to scan?”
“What do you want to do with the 3D file we give you?”
“What level of accuracy are you looking for?”
“What program will you be using to work with the 3D file?”

From those answers, we decide which of our 3 scanners we will need to use.

The scanners we have are the NextEngine 3D laser scanner, the Polhemus FastScan Cobra 3D laser scanner and the Artec Eva, a structured light 3D scanner.

Both the Cobra and the Eva are handheld scanners, this means they are mobile, the NextEngine is a desktop/tripod mounted scanner.
So how do we use them?

NextEngine Laser Scanner – Desk Mounted

For objects in size from 10mm up to 300mm, we always choose our NextEngine. It is built for small stuff!

The NextEngine scanner is a desk or tripod mounted unit and always needs to be within 2m of our PC workstation, so while it is a little bit mobile… we can’t for example, take it out on site very easily.

With its high degree of accuracy and excellent texture capture, it is always our go-to scanner for small stuff.

Its quick, easy and gets the job done nicely!

Rule of thumb accuracy here is 0.10mm to 0.3mm. The level of detail captured is entirely dependent on the surface colour, texture and quality. For example, plaster of Paris, cement, stone, wood, plastics and metals are very good for scanning with laser. Difficult surfaces are ones which are either very dark or shiny. If you have something with a dark or shiny surface, do not fear, we have a few tricks up our sleeve with which we can still get the job done…

Typical examples of things scanned with the NextEngine are pieces of jewelry, parts of guns, aircraft and vehicles, as well as small figurines and sculptures.

Polhemus FastScan Cobra – Handheld Scanner

When jobs are a little bigger, anything from 200mm up to 2.5m, we go straight for our Cobra Handheld Laser Scanner.

It has to be said that this is just one of the most amazing pieces of equipment ever. It is a handheld device which has the unique ability to process the scans while we are scanning!

The Cobra is processing the data in real-time and building the model as the beam passes over the surface… this leads to an exceptionally small file size which is very unusual for a laser scanner!

As with the NextEngine, It has the usual limitation in that it can’t easily detect the colour black or a shiny surface. When we do these jobs, we either dust the surface with baby powder or coat it with a water based white spray which removes easily.

The Cobra has one other limitation in that it can’t scan items with a magnetic quality as the scanner uses electromagnetic motion tracking in order to align the scans. This means that steel parts like gears and plates are out with this one! Accuracy is very good on this scanner being between 0.1mm and 0.5mm and this one does not capture texture… just the geometry.
Materials it loves to scan are wood, stone, cement or just about any light stone surface with a sandy or matte texture. It is quite magical to watch the screen as the 3D model is built right before your eyes as the laser line glides over the surface … it’s like spray painting in 3D. It has to be seen to be appreciated!

I guess one man’s science really is another man’s Magic!

Good examples of things it can scan are sculptures and artwork where the file will be used to create a 3D mould, like the pics below…

Artec Eva – Handheld Scanner

For large jobs from 300mm up to 10 metres, there is only one scanner we use and that is the Artec Eva Hand held 3D scanner.

This scanner uses structured light and a flash to capture high resolution surfaces with brilliant colour texture and it does it at an impressive speed too.

We often find ourselves smiling while scanning with it… it is just lovely to use!

Typically, scans are from 0.1mm to 0.50mm in accuracy.

This is particularly handy for scanning large objects like boat hulls, aircraft, automotive vehicles, motorcycles and earth moving equipment.

The Artec Eva is our latest addition to our studio and a truly wonderful piece of equipment.

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  • 021 764 2000
  • 074 200 7969
  • ASA House, 7 Timour Hall Road, Plumstead, 7801, Cape Town, Western Cape

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