3D Scanning and Printing


This week’s theme was 3D scanning and 3D printing. The assignment was to 3D scan an object and 3D print an object. I was initially going to try to scan and print the same object, and then I discovered the truth about 3D scanners.

3D Scanning

1) ScanStudio

At first, I tried the scanner in the shop that uses ScanStudio. It’s supposed to be high resolution and it’s previous uses have included scanning Egyptian antiquities.

The issue is that the object quickly goes out of focus once the plate turns away too much. A 360 degree scan with division=6 would give me maybe one usable scan.

ScanStudio also likes to do this. Maybe it only works well for Egyptian antiquities.

  1. 2)Minolta 3D Scanner with GeoMagic

I had slightly better luck with Minolta scanner, but calibrating the scanner such that each scan would line up with another is hellish.

  1. 3)Project Photofly

Project Photofly is a project that came out of Autodesk labs. The idea is simple: you take a bunch of pictures of an object, upload it to their cloud service, and get notified when they’ve stitched the pictures together into a 3D mesh.

I had the most success with this, which is not saying much considering the disasters I encountered with professional 3D scanners.

I got a decent model of half of my roommate Brandon’s head:

The problem with Photofly is that it’s very finicky about the lighting of the object. Ideally, the object should be placed in a room with diffuse lighting all around. Light bulbs and sunlight through the window are bad.

For example, here I managed to capture half of the accordion. The other half was in shadow, which confused Photofly.

Still, I think there’s a lot of potential for Photofly. It wouldn’t hurt to have a photo studio, either.

3D Printing

The 3D printing was infinitely more pain-free. I modified my earlier cat design in Rhino to make a headphone-cat model.

A view of the batch of models still covered in the supporting material:

Unfortunately, I should have made the headphone connector a little thicker. It broke once the wax was melted off. Nothing a little glue can’t fix, though.

You can even make out the Chinese character for “cat” on its back!


If you really dislike someone, ask them to use a 3D scanner.