What is the best 3D scanner on the market today?

What is the best 3D scanner on the market today? How was your experience with the product? How was the learning curve for a first time user? Best customer service? Best value for the money? What program did you use to convert STL to a 3D cad model?

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15 Answers

I have been involved in 3D scanning for over 10 years, and have used most the equipment out there at some point. It is difficult to give a good answer to your question, because different types of scanners are good on different applications. Also the price of 3D scanners today range from $3K to $300K+. The 3D scanner that is really good for scanning cars may not do well on cell phones, etc.

Regarding the learning curve, 3D scanning is actually quite easy and the learning curve on operating the equipment is usually very short. However, there is a learning curve when it comes to processing the data, and this can vary quite a bit based on the user's past experience. A person who has a good background in 3D CAD can normally get up to running in 2-4 weeks. A person who has never done any 3D modeling will have a much longer learning curve. I would compare it to someone who is put in front of Solidworks for the first time. If they had used another CAD package prior to Solidworks, then they most likely will functional in 2-4 weeks. However, if they have never used any 3D CAD prior, it is hard to say how long it will take that person to learn SolidWorks.

Saying what 3D scanner is the best value for the money is also hard to answer, because it really depends on what type of scanner you need. I would definitely recommend staying away from anything costing less than $15K if you need the scanner for serious work.

Neomek offers 3D scanning services, and we use many different software packages. When it comes to creating parametric CAD models from 3D scan data, we use Rapidform. Rapidform allows you to create fully parametric, native CAD models for SolidWorks, ProE, NX. It also outputs the neutral formats, such as STEP, IGES and parasolid, so you can get the models into other software as well.

If you get a chance, check out our 3D scanning services page too:

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This is an age old question. There are well over 100 scanners on the market with new technologies and products being developed every day. There is no 'best' 3D scanner, unless you state LOTS of very specific details about your needs.

As the chairperson of the SME's 3D Imaging Tech Group for several years now, a member of the CMSC Executive Committee, and the owner of a 17-year old 3D scanning business (one of the largest in the US), we answer this question every day for ourselves and our customers.

Do not ask a representative of an OEM! They are salespersons and can only recommend what their company offers.

Do not ask an OEM that provides services! They can only use the equipment their company offers and if they use or recommend other equipment, it’s quite obvious that their equipment is therefore limited. This is why almost no serious OEM provides services.

Ask a 3D scanning service company that also represents equipment. These guys are motivated to find, use, and sell the best available equipment for the broadest solution of problems. They will naturally gravitate to the best equipment with the most utility at the best prices.

Check these firms: Mimic Studios (http://www.mimicstudios.com) on the west coast, Exact Metrology in the midwest (http://www.exactmetrology.com) , and my firm – Direct Dimensions (http://www.directdimensions.com) on the east coast. Each of these firms would help you work thru the specifics of your needs to answer this question for you.

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At the Neomek, we have successfully completed quite a few projects where we scanned firearm components. We used the Range7 on all of these service jobs, and all of the customers were extremely satisfied with the results. Also there is a good article in the December Design World Magazine regarding Rapidform and Geomagic.


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There are many discussions out there on 3D scanners, and they inevitably slip to hidden advertising. This thread is not an exception.

I have personal experience with laser, structured light and photogrammetric 3D scanning technologies. It does depend on the application and there is no sense to talk about 3D scanners in general. The right question would be “What is the best scanning technology and the best scanner within this technology for scanning full-size cars if my budget is 20K and I need it for reverse engineering?”

My personal advice is this: stay away from fancy Creaform scanners. You will never get the result which they proclaim in tech specs, the products are heavily overpriced and there are huge hidden costs in maintenance, software licensing, etc. The cost of ownership is in times higher than even tremendously overpriced initial expense.

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Anybody have experience with non0commercial/home 3d scanners? Think really low budget.

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This is an exciting question, would be great to have a list of the scanners and feature comparison table!

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Answer this question is like "which one is the best camera", depends on your budget and what do you want it for.

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There is no "best" scanner.
It depends on the task
You can try also http://en.rangevision.com if you are looking for comparison.

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I have a Artec Spider. Pricey but very good. Good accuracy and high resolution. Rarely need for labels.

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In Mr. Clark's reply above, he conveniently avoids indicating that the "3D Scanning Lab" is actually Konica Minolta, the giant OEM that makes and sells the Range7 scanner. As I stated above, I would avoid an OEM that provides services for the reasons noted - of course they'll tell you that their products work! But is it the best product for the application? That they can not tell you, nor will they use or recommend a competitive product since that is not what they sell. Clearly that business model is flawed.

Contact any of the companies mentioned above, or other services firms that also sell equipment. Ask them for recommendations on the best equipment, or pay them to do the project and tell you what they used.

By the way, he also only talks about Geomagic and Rapidform software - both excellent products, but what about PolyWorks, or the other possible solutions. Perhaps he doesn't use or sell those either.

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Systems are evolving all the time, the disfunction of the dark ages are drawing to an end. Keep it simple. Have a look at 3dsom.com
This is not an endorsement, nor a plug, just an example of what I mean.

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