*Last Updated: June 2024

The 5 Best 3D Scanners [Ranked]

3d Scanners

3D printers can print almost anything nowadays.

Having a 3d scanner, however, can make your 3D printer even more potent.

As the technology has advanced, and the associated costs decreased, there are some exciting opportunities for nonprofessional enthusiasts and tinkerers to develop some exciting new innovations.

When you realize that you can scan literally anything and turn it into a print replica, be at a new toy for your child or even your own prosthetic arm, the mind reels!

Buyers say that after a software update several years ago, calibration and user interface has improved dramatically. In fact, it seems to occur in under 10 minutes now.

Video Overview

In addition buyers praise the folding compact design that makes it easy to store, but criticize the plastic build quality.

On the down side, reviewers say that because there isn't any integrated lighting, you'll need to employ stronger lamps or studio lights.

In addition, it can be difficult to get dark-colored to show up. 


The Five Best 3D Scanners

1. The Matter and Form MFS1V1 3D Scanner

If you need a 3D scanner that can do truly high-resolution scanning, try this item. It has the ability to capture objects in full color using software with robust meshing algorithms. As a result, it creates watertight 3D models within 0.25 mm of the detail and size of the original object. It also scans objects up to 190 mm in size. Moreover, it has the ability to capture about 2000 points a second. When you buy this item, it comes ready to use with no assembly required. The unit is deceptively simple to begin using- plug and play. It also includes a 1-year warranty.

2. The XYZprinting Handheld 3D Scanner

Another portable scanner in the market that is worth checking out is this handheld gadget that is powered by Intel RealSense. Using its advanced scanning technology, you can make 3D models of an object by simply gliding the scanner over it. When in use, you could choose either head mode or object mode. Additionally, you could readily connect this scanner into any USB device, including tablets and computers. Several users commented that you need to have a very steady hand when using this scanner if you want a quality output.

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3. The 3D Systems 391230 3D Scanner

This item has no clear description in the online store except for its number of reviews. The overall dimensions of this product is 5.1 x 1.3 x 7 inches. You can tell that it is lightweight and portable unlike many traditional scanners. With connectivity through USB, it is designed to replicate or make 3D models of objects by scanning. However, many users say that they find it difficult to scan anything using this gizmo. Some hardly manage to complete one scan, blaming the software that comes with it. In case of problems with this scanner, you could reach out to their customer service.

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4. The XYZprinting Da Vinci 1.0 AiO 3D Scanner (Scan/Edit/Print)

This XYZPrinting 3D Scanner allows you to scan, edit and print images. It has a speedy scan algorithm that apparently makes scanning take less than 5 minutes. Using a symmetric 2-way laser scanning technology, users will be able to enjoy hihg-quality scanning results. Moreover, it has an automatic rotating scan platform and smart-fix technology for easily enhancing and editing a scanned object. The updated software of this scanner already allows for multiple scans of the same object that is more accurate and detailed.

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5. The 3D Systems 350416 iSense for iPad Air

Many users enjoy this product because it enables them to scan high-resolution images in full color while on the go. With dimensions of 4.7 x 1.1 x 1.1 inches, you know that it is lightweight, compact and portable. It is designed to scan faster with more detailed results. Many users say that it is best with larger objects like people rather than very small objects. After scanning, it allows you to edit and print what you scanned. It is compatible with the iPad Air 2 and it comes with a bracket for it. You can purchase different brackets for different iPad models.

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More Background

Many different items can be classified as 3D scanners. Essentially, any device that assesses physical environments by using lights, x-rays or lasers and then produces cloud points or polygon meshes- these can be considered 3D scanners.

If you are in the market to purchase one, or just reading reviews, you would do well to search for them by their other names, which include laser scanners, 3D digitizers, white light scanners LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) and industrial computed scanners. These different technologies share a common ability to capture and represent physical objects’ geometry by sometimes millions of measurements.

What Are They Good For?

The creation of highly customized products for a variety of different industries, standing buildings to generate incredibly accurate 3D depictions A 3D scanner is capable of compiling and measuring millions of points on an actual object and incredibly short amount time. It does this by admitting and receiving certain signals. Computer software compiles all of these points of information into an image.

The Many Different Uses

The primary applications of 3D scanning include:

  • Archival and documentation purposes,
  • design and reengineering,
  • animation and visualization,
  • reproduction and replication,
  • analysis and inspection,
  • and assorted, specific industry applications.

Three-dimensional scanning will allow you to create a digital backups of objects for documentation and archival purposes. When it comes to reverse engineering- it finds application in the aerospace as well as the industrial design industries. With these sorts of models, scanners equip users to make complex changes to product features. When it comes to inspection, 3D scanning data is great for the manufacturing industry, where users can winnow out defects.

Replication is useful for restoration purposes as well as actually creating prototypes and products. Visualization and animation applications allow for face scanning, and meeting people and objects into music videos and films as well as high-quality renderings.

An archaeologist may use a 3D scanner to document information that they have collected from an excavation. Using this technology they may be able to generate reconstructions of ancient artifacts. In this way, the technology enables archaeologists to bring to life ancient societies and civilizations.

In the private sector, many companies use computer aided design software (CAD) for engineers to modify or adjust the original design of certain products. In this way, they can generate huge databases of information and ensure that their products have been inspected for flaws and imperfections.

How does 3D laser scanning work?

The first of the two primary methods of 3D laser scanning is triangulation. Using angled cameras and lasers in association with one another, a triangle is created that will enable the scanner to discover the location of 3D points.

The second style of laser scanning occurs when a laser beam is sent to an object’s surface and the amount of time it takes for the laser to be reflected back to the sensor is calculated. The less time that it takes for this to occur, then the laser sensor knows but the point is closer.

The 3D scanners emit light, radiation or ultrasound that travels to and against the object. These different signals will then reflect back to the sensor from the object. The software is able to assess the distance and time it takes for the signals to leave, make contact, and then return to the sensors.

This process is what enables 3D scanners to generate the multi-dimensional images that they create and are so technically accurate.

These two methodologies of laser technology scanning have diverse applications. Especially in manufacturing- product defects can be discovered before they are released to the public. Hollywood even has use of this technology. Scanners can be used to create incredibly accurate renditions of human faces that can be used in animations by an production studio like Pixar.

What about 3D printing?

3D printing is known as rapid prototyping. It is a method of manufacturing in which three-dimensional objects are created by machine connected to a computer that has blueprints for its design. Via ventral technological ambition of 3D printing is that consumers can print the products that they need.

Three dimensional printing has some highly intriguing possibilities and their utility is related to 3D scanning. The current state of the 3D printing technology is the use of metallic dust and lasers to create three-dimensional objects comprised of metal. Is really and American research scientists have been able to create on-demand aerial vehicles using three dimensional scanning and printing technology.

The US military is even investigating the utility of creating a three-dimensional printer that could exist on the battlefield-equipped to quickly create custom hardware on the fly.

As the technology develops, it is likely that special polymers will begin to be used to truly capitalize on the potential of three-dimensional printing, enabling the construction of more advanced designs and products.

Even further in the future, nano technology could be utilized that will enable three-dimensional printers to generate products by layering one atom at a time. Some research scientists have speculated that this is entirely possible though not within immediate grasp.

Why 3D scanning is so important- final thoughts

As 3D printing has trended and its technology significantly advanced the course of the last decade, 3D scanning is itself becoming an even more powerful tool for consumers and businesses.

Large organizations and even startups are utilizing structured lighting, photo grandma tree as well as laser advancements to develop new and exciting innovations.

What makes 3D scanners, and the reviews of them so timely, is that these products are becoming more and more affordable. This reduction in price is truly democratizing technological innovation, allowing nonprofessional enthusiasts to make their own discoveries.

The Top 5 Team

We are a team of product researchers that specializes in assembling comprehensive buying guides. Our team has a variety of backgrounds, with a mixture of soft and hard sciences represented. Check out our About page to read more about our reviews and editorial process.

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