Tag Archives: 3D scanner

CowTech Ciclop is a $100 3D laser scanner

Makers can produce high-quality scans for a fraction of the cost of other machines.

Those who’ve ever wanted to copy a three-dimensional object without shelling out an arm and a leg for a professional-grade machine are in luck. That’s because Maker Jason Smith has developed an open source, RepRap 3D scanner. The best part? It’ll cost you less than $100.


According to its creator, the CowTech Ciclop boasts “a large scan volume, a simple yet elegant design, and a disruptive price point that blows any other laser scanner out of the water.” Inspired by the BQ Ciclop, this unit’s frame is comprised of sleek laser-cut acrylic and plastic components that users can easily fabricate themselves. Smith has also shrunken down the scanner’s footprint so it can be reproduced on even the smallest of printers.

“We wanted to make sure our product was usable for anyone who owns a 3D printer, so we meticulously designed our parts for a print bed volume of only 115mm x 110mm x 65mm (4.5 x 4.3 x 2.6in) so they can be produced on even the smallest of printers,” Smith adds.

Unlike some other DIY gadgets available today, the CowTech Ciclop is a scanner that employs two red line lasers, a camera and a rotating turntable. Not only can Makers create the CowTech Ciclop’s parts on their own 3D printer in any color and resolution, they can assemble the device in under 30 minutes. Once constructed, they can then take any item they wish to replicate, set it on the 200mm laser cut acrylic turntable, and begin the scanning process.


At this time, two redline lasers flash on the object as the turntable makes a complete revolution. A camera detects the location of each of the lines and stores them as points in the 3D space. A cloud of points is generated after the scan is complete, replicating the surface of the object with up to 0.5mm precision. That point cloud could then be utilized as a standalone or converted into a program like Meshlab and Cloudcompare.

As you would expect, the low-cost CowTech Ciclop kit has an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) for its brain, an Arduino shield for controlling a NEMA 17 stepper motor, a USB cord and a 1.5A power supply.

Sound like the DIY scanner you’ve been looking for? Head over to the CowTech Ciclop’s Kickstarter campaign, where the team is currently seeking $10,000. Delivery is slated for April 2016.


Build a 3D scanner with infinite resolution for just $50

All you need is a DSLR camera, an Arduino, a stepper motor driver, a stepper motor, an IR LED and a LCD shield.

Looking for desktop 3D scanner with inifitinite resolution? Well, the good news is that you can get your hands on one for just $50. The bad news is that, you will need a DSLR camera. That’s because Maker Whitney Potter was able to create his own using a Nikon and an Arduino-driven stepper motor.


“Desktop 3D scanning has made great leaps in recent years but it still has great limitations,” Potter explains. “Scanner hardware is built around a specific scan volume and resolution. You can get decent results, but only if your object fits that sweet spot. If you’re object is too small, or too detailed or your scanner is just having a bad day, your scan will look like a potato. Luckily there is another approach.”

The method he is referring to is photogrammetry, which constructs 3D images from a set of partially overlapping 2D images. The limiting factor with this approach is the quality and spacing of the photographs. Each picture must be well exposed and perfectly focused. Plus, there must be sufficient overlap between the photos so the rendering software knows where each shot belongs. Although this can be done with some practice on larger objects, it is virtually impossible with smaller subjects. This is where the Arduino-powered stepper motors come in handy.


As aforementioned, Potter’s DIY 3D scanner employs a stepper motor controlled by an Arduino Mega (ATmega2560) to turn the scanned item by a fixed amount. An infrared LED then triggers the camera’s wireless sensor, setting off the shutter. This process is repeated until photos have been collected from all angles, allowing one’s photogrammetry software to reproduce an accurate and high-res 3D image of the subject.

Meanwhile, an LCD display shield with a set of buttons enables a user to command the Arduino. With these buttons, the user can select the number of pictures to be taken per revolution. The scanner can run in two different modes. In automatic, it takes a picture, advances the stepper and repeats until it has completed a whole revolution. Whereas in manual, each push of the button captures a picture, advances the stepper and waits. According to Potter, the latter is particularly useful for scans where each photo needs to be framed and focused manually.


Although Potter’s Arduino sketch has been configured for a Nikon DSLR, it can be set up to work with pretty much any other brand of camera. The Maker utilized Sebastian Setz’s Multi Camera IR Control library, which allows it to work with any model that uses an IR remote.

In terms of photogrammetry software, Potter recommends Agisoft Photoscan and Autodesk Memento, as well as Autodesk 123D Catch for those on a budget. Intrigued? Head over to the Maker’s Instructables page where you can find a step-by-step breakdown of his project.

Pixelio is a 3D scanning turntable for your phone

Goodbye, shaky hand effect! Pixelio lets you create high-quality 3D scans and 360-degree photos with nothing more than your phone. 

Having noticed a void in the market for a high quality yet affordable 3D scanning device, Smart 3D set out to fill this gap. In doing so, the UK-based startup created Pixelio a simple, clever and user-friendly scanner that only requires a smartphone or GoPro to function. How great is that?


With hopes of introducing users to a whole new dimension in 3D photography, the system is built around a turntable, an accompanying app and a mobile device’s camera that enables you to shoot 360-degre images and time-lapse videos. Given is compact and super portable size, Pixelio lets you bring a mini 3D scanning lab and photo studio wherever you want to go.

Smart3D suggests that Pixelio is a perfect solution for anyone who needs panoramic views of objects, whether that’s a Maker for his 3D printer, an architect, an engineer, a graphic designer, bloggers, real estate developers, tourists, or anyone who’s looking to sell things on sites like eBay.

Pixelio works in tandem with Autodesk 123D’s Catch software running on the smartphone. Combined with the turntable setup, users can scan any object that can fit on the platform in 3D. One of, if not, its greatest advantages is that the device will strap your smartphone into place so that you can maintain a steady shot, unlike handheld scanners where detail can be compromised due to the changing positions. According to its creators, the holder is compatible with just about any phone on the market today.


Pixelio boasts several other innovative features as well, which will provide you with a seamless experience. It has a built-in powerbank and wireless phone charging option, an adjustable rotation speed, a tripod mount, and an integrated timer that can be useful when setting shutter speeds for time-lapses. What’s more, images and videos that are captured through Pixelio can be saved to either MP4 or GIF formats, while anything scanned will be saved as a 3D file.

In terms of hardware, Pixelio is equipped with an ultra-low power nRF51822 CPU and an Atmel | SMART SAM D20 MCU core. Aside from that, the unit includes an OLED display, capacitive touch buttons, an RGB LED backlight, Bluetooth Low Energy and Wi-Fi connectivity, USB ports and a 5200mAh battery. Additionally, the startup’s patented “Virtual Finger” technology is designed to replicate the touch of a human finger as the phone moves around an object, ensuring that scans or images don’t blur. Virtual Finger is used to activate the shutter release button in applications that aren’t Bluetooth compatible or in smartphones that lack BLE support.


Ready to say goodbye the shaky hand effect? Head over to Pixelio’s Kickstarter campaign, where Smart3D is currently seeking $50,000. Delivery is slated for sometime next spring.

Blacksmith Genesis is the world’s first rotary 3D printer and scanner

3D scan + print + copy

The world’s first compact 3D printer that can also scan items and create their digitized models has been launched and is expected to be delivered to the United States next month.


Developed by Nanyang Technological University-originated startup Blacksmith Group, the user-friendly device allows Makers of all levels to scan any item, then edit the digitized model on the computer and 3D print it. Aptly named Blacksmith Genesis, the all-in-one device first appeared last year on Indiegogo, where it successfully garnered over $80,000. With production now complete, the printer-cum-scanner was first unveiled at the American Association Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting in San Jose, California.

“We designed Blacksmith Genesis with the average hobbyist in mind. Most 3D printers sold on the market now are not really user-friendly as their 3D models and blueprints usually have to be designed from scratch on the computer,” explained co-founder Fang Kok Boon.


Resembling the body of a Keurig coffeemaker, the high-tech device is housed in black aluminum casing with an innovative rotary platform, which enables 360-degree scanning. Designed for both in-home and office use, the sleek Genesis can easily fit alongside any desktop computer or other appliances. In addition, it boasts a 2-inch LCD display, Wi-Fi, an integrated SD-card reader and a USB connection for instant printing. With a fine resolution of 50 micrometers, the Blacksmith Group says reproductions will be twice as detailed compared to other compact 3D printers, while its built-in 5 megapixel camera will scan objects in just six minutes — twice as fast as others on the market today.

What’s more, the Genesis offers remote monitoring and automatic error detection through its camera. This lets Makers manage the printing process right from their your smartphone. So, should you wish to stop printing, you can do so at the click of a button — anytime, anywhere.


  • Printer size: 35cm x 25cm x 41cm
  • Build volume: 23cm x 16cm
  • Scan volume: 21cm x 16cm
  • Printer weight:  6kg (13 lbs)
  • Nozzle diameter: 0.4 mm
  • Layer Resolution: 50-200 microns
  • Filament type: PLA, 1.75 mm diameter
  • Connectivity: USB, SD Card, Wi-Fi (coming soon)

Those interested, who have missed the Indiegogo campaign, can now pre-order their Genesis. While it will be a welcomed addition to any home, office or Makerspace, it will however set you back $2,200.

The all-in-one FABtotum has arrived!

When the FABtotum launched on Indiegogo last year, it almost seemed too good to be true. The team of Makers behind the Italian startup designed a fully-functional, hybrid additive/subtractive CNC device that was capable of printing, cutting, milling and scanning.


As the world’s first all-in-one, low-cost desktop personal fabrication device, it was no surprise when the crowdfunding campaign garnered nearly $590,000 — well over its original $50,000 goal.

Earlier this month, the FABtotum team began dispersing their creations to early-adopting backers. “Today we celebrate a year-long effort that culminated with today’s event,” said FABtotum CEO Marco Rizzuto. “With the launch of the FABtotum, we salute the birth of a new rapid manufacturing paradigm.”


And, similar to a number of other 3D printers and CNC devices which are based on AVR XMEGA and megaAVR microcontrollers, FABtotum’s main board is powered by an ATmega1280 while an ATmega8 lies within the printer’s hybrid head.

While FABtotum is capable of 3D printing objects with the common fused filament fabrication (FFF) technique, exploring design and shape possibilities has never been faster (or cheaper for that matter). With a 210x240x240 mm build area, and a 24% print-to-printer size ratio, the FABtotum is already a solid choice when picking out a high-end printer.

However, sometimes 3D printing is just not enough. Luckily for Makers, the device boasts a dual-head with an engraving/milling spindle motor that can be used to accomplish a wide range of machine operations on many common materials including wood, light aluminum or even brass alloys.


The fabrication device’s detachable head “can accommodate another subtractive or additive head on top, such as a more powerful motor, a small laser diode module for paper cutting, a pick and place clamp or a syringe for scientific applications. FABtotum could be even used for complex coil winding.”

Equipped with 8GB of built-in memory, FABtotum is capable of printing not only without being connected to a computer, but from cabled LAN, wireless LAN and remotely from the Internet. To put icing on the cake, a high-speed, medium-quality laser scanner is included to enable the FABtotum to recreate objects as small as a coin. With the laser incorporated into the design system, the reverse engineering prospects are seemingly endless.


Those who attended the recent World Maker Faire in New York may have noticed the FABtotum on display in the 3D Printing Village. Arduino Co-Founder Massimo Banzi even dubbed it the “coolest 3D printer” at the show.

So, who’s ready to print, cut, mill, scan, manipulate, rinse and repeat? For those interested exploring this all-in-one device, head on over to FABtotum’s official page here.


How to build an Uno-based 3D scanner

Till Handel (aka alicedownthecoffeepot) has published a detailed paper describing how to build a relatively inexpensive 3D scanner using an Atmel-based (ATmega328 MCUArduino Uno board and assorted spare parts, such as those scavenged from old printers and laptops.

As HackADay’s James Hobson reports, the Uno-equipped platform is capable of scanning 360° around itself at distances from 0.3 – 5m, making it a perfect fit for scanning rooms.

“It uses a line laser and a webcam mounted on an arm driven by a stepper motor, which looks like it’s out of an old optical drive,” Hobson explains.

“[Meanwhile], an Arduino Uno and an A4988POW stepper driver control the system.”

According to Hosbon, Handel’s 3D scanner is similar to others on the market, with a line laser providing a 2D profile/outline of the object being scanned that the camera picks up.

“As the system (or object) rotates, new profiles are recorded and sewn together to form a complete 3D image,” says Hobson.

“To increase the resolution and accuracy of the scanner, you can always [use] a better camera.”

Interested in learning more? You can check out Till Handel’s blog post here and detailed paper (published under GPLv3) here.