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How To Use 3D Printing Scanner

The biggest difficulty faced when getting into 3D printing is the models. 3D models are hard to create from scratch. You are forced to work with the limited selection of models available online.

Sometimes, all you want is to make a scaled-up version of an object you already have. But there is no easy way to convert it into a digital model.

Or is it? 3D scanners are the exact opposite of printers. 3D printers take a digital object and recreate it physically. Scanners convert a real-world object into its virtual representation.

But how do 3D scanners work? Let’s find out.

3D Scanner Basics

Different scanners work in different ways, but the core process is the same.

Lasers and photography are generally used to scan the object and determine its shape. The resulting geometry is reconstructed in a digital format, creating a 3D model.

Laser triangulation is the most accurate method but is also the most expensive. Contact-based scanners are cheaper, even if their results are low quality.

Nowadays scanners that use lasers have gotten more affordable. It is better to buy a smaller laser-based scanner than to bother with the other varieties.

Types of 3D Scanners

There are two main kinds of 3D scanners in the market. Platform scanners and handheld scanners.

  • Platform Scanners

This is the more affordable variant preferred by hobbyists and beginners. In platform scanners, the object is placed on a rotating platform. A lens captures its geometry from every angle.

The process can be a bit slow, but is easy to use and can give decent results for printing purposes. It also ensures you don’t have to worry about keeping the object steady during scanning.

  • Handheld Scanners

Handheld scanners are more powerful, more efficient, and more… well, handy.

To use a handheld scanner, you just have to keep an object on a flat surface and move the scanner around it. It captures data multiple times per second to construct an accurate model of the object.

Handheld scanners are thus preferred over platform scanners. Even if they are a bit more expensive.

Why a Scanner is great for 3D Printing

Anyone who has ever tried 3D modeling knows just how hard it is. Creating an object model from scratch requires tremendous skill and time.

Wouldn’t it be better if you could get a baseline to start from? If you had an easy way of obtaining 3D models of everyday objects so you could then just tweak them a little?

That is where 3D scanners come in.

Flatbed scanners take physical documents and turn them into digital files. 3D scanners convert three-dimensional objects into digital models.

There are many ways of leveraging this ability:

  • For Switching Materials

You can scan complicated objects like miniatures to obtain their 3D models more easily. You can then print them in colors and materials of your choice, or produce multiple copies.

This is especially useful for budding artists with no 3D modeling skills. You can create a model out of things like clay or paper mache, before scanning them into your computer.

This allows you to print the same models with a more durable material like ABS or polycarbonate.

  • For Selling Items

Aspiring businessmen often use a scanner to scan the best-selling products in various categories and then 3D print them. That way, they don’t have to waste time building up digital models of the products first.

You can effectively build up a library of small easy to print objects with high demand, printing them as and when orders come in. In other words, with a 3D printer scanner, you can become a small manufacturer in your own right.

  • Changing the Size of Objects

Another common use is to get objects of a different size than the one you have. You can scan a small item and scale it up to a larger size, or scan something big and create a tiny replica of it.

This is incredibly useful for science projects or art installations. You can scan in miniature models of the things you need and then print out larger versions of them easily.

How do you use a 3D Scanner?

Operating a scanner is easy. If you have a platform scanner, simply place the object you want to scan on the rotating platform and let it do its magic.

For handheld scanners, keep your hands steady and move them around the object, scanning it from every angle for maximum accuracy.

The output of both types of scanners is an STL file, which is just the file format you need for printing. Some people like going over the model once in a modeling application like Blender, but that is entirely optional.

You can use the STL file directly in the slicing software of your choice and start printing right away.

What is the Best 3D Scanner for 3D Printing?

There are many 3D printing scanners in the market right now. But most of these products are targeted at 3D modelers and include features unnecessary for printing.

To scan objects to print, all you need is an affordable option with at least 0.5 mm of scanning resolution. A better resolution always helps, of course, but most FDM printers cannot print too precisely anyway.

This is why we recommend the XYZ Printing Handheld 3D Scanner, which is fast,  doesn’t cost that much, and provides sufficient scan resolution. It can output standard STL files, which means you can start printing those models immediately.

To Sum Up

Getting a scanner is a great way to give a boost to your 3D printing. You can scan objects lying around in your home and remake them in your own way.

Changing materials, switching around the colors, or modifying the model itself – a scanner opens up so many possibilities. With an easy way to get 3D models, there are no limitations on what you can print.

You can create duplicates of objects you already have, or use a little modeling to change them into something uniquely yours. As a result, this is an amazing way to start 3D modeling as well.

All you need is a good 3D scanner to get started.

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