3-D modelling is maturing fast. Increasingly affordable solutions are not only raising general awareness of 3D workflows but revolutionizing design, engineering and manufacturing processes. The case in point is German-based David-laserscanner - a system that lets users turn everyday objects into 3D models at a low cost.

David-laserscanner currently offers two types of scanning units. The first uses a laser pen, (usually but not exclusively) a web camera, and a back board setup with known points on each facade. The points appear behind the object and are recognized by the software as part of the scanning process.


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The second system uses the same type of camera (with plain board used for calibration only) and a projector, which projects a pattern on the surface of the object scanned. It is this process - known as structured light scanning - which enables the software to recognize the shape of the surface via the pattern projected on it. The iPhone app, Trimensional - a development stemming from Georgia Institute of Technology - uses the same principle in its 3D workflow.

The David Start Kit can scan objects 10 mm - 400 mm (0.4" - 15.7") in size to a known accuracy of 0.5 percent in 40 seconds. David SLS -1 can scan slightly bigger objects,10 mm - 600 mm (0.4" - 23.6"), to a known accuracy of 0.2 percent in 2 - 4 seconds. Custom built systems allow for the capture of larger objects.

These PDF files show the results of scanning a Darth Vader action figure and a motorcycle model using the David system.

The two ready made kits are available at the David-laserscanner online shop. One priced at €449 (US$550) and the other at €1775 (US$2180). A USB stick with a copy of the professional version of the software is €329 (US$405). The files can be exported in .obj, .ply and .stl formats. The latter is a standard format used for 3D printing.

3D Laser Scanner Requirements

  • A camera (e.g. web cam)
  • A hand-held line laser (starting at €19.90)
  • Two plain boards in the background
  • A Windows PC

Structured Light Scanner Requirements

  • A camera (e.g. web cam)
  • A projector
  • Two plain boards (for calibration only)
  • A Windows PC

The video below from Tinkernut.com demonstrates how to build your own laser scanner and use the free software offered by David. In the example highlighted, the figure of a robot is captured using the free version of the software and additional processing is done in Blender - an open source 3D modelling package. More information on the latter, along with downloads of the modelling package, can be found at Blender.org.

Source: David-laserscanner

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