Guide to 3D Scanners | Sculpteo Blog

Guide to 3D Scanners

Posted By Romain Cabanis on Apr 18, 2016 | 4 comments

3D Scanners are gaining accuracy and speed each year. The technology is making significant improvements to make this tool the most reliable possible to get a perfect 3D model. That’s the reason why we updated the 2015 edition of our Guide to 3D scanners! In the 2016 edition, you’ll find the updated prices, features and the latest newcomers that sound promising. Our guide to 3D scanners is divided into 4 main parts, ranging from the most basic scanners on your smartphone to professional 3D scanners, in order to help you to find the most suited for your uses.

In this post, you’ll get all the information you’ll need when you need to compare 3D scanners. We remind you that to make the best choice possible you need to keep in mind the object size you are planning to scan. Some scanners are more suited for smaller objects (such as the Makerbot Digitizer) and others are more accurate for larger objects, like people or vehicles (such as the Artec Spider).

Our guide to 3D scanner is divided into the following categories:

A 3D scanner is a device that analyses a real-world object or environment to collect data on its shape and possibly its appearance (e.g. colour). The collected data can then be used to construct digital 3D model There are two primary types; The Desktop 3D scanners and the portative 3D scanners. The main differences between 3D scanners are the portability, their integration with a 3D printer or a software, their resolution and their maximum scanning height.

Note: not all 3D scanners come inclusive with a software to edit and effect the taken scan. It’s often necessary to take the information gathered by the scanner and import it into a 3rd party software for further tweaking and scanning (and optimizing for a 3D print).

« Friendly 3D Scanners»

“Friendly 3D Scanners” refers to scanners which are affordable and user-friendly to general public. This category also includes ‘hijacked’ scanners (such as the xBox Kinect) or scanners that attach to smartphones and touchpads.



Price: $99,99
Resolution: 0,051 mm
Precision: /

The xBox Kinect was not intended originally for a 3D scan (nor an eventual 3D print), however using a 3rd party software and a quick how to guide the Kinect can be ‘hijacked’ into a 3D printer. In fact, the Kinect has a large subculture of ‘hijackings’ that are worth exploring! One notable company that widely uses the Kinect for their 3D scans is the SNCF (The French National Railway Company).

Occipital Structure Sensor


Price: $379
Resolution: Up to 0,5 mm
Precision: Up to 4 mm

The Occipital Structures Sensor has for main advantage to benefit from a mobile-optimized capture between distance 40 cms and 3,5 m, to be infrared and has a portable structure very easy to transport. However, a mobile device is required.


ISense 3D scanner


Price: $499

Depth resolution @0.5m: 1mm
Spatial x/y resolution @0.5m: 0,9mm
Maximum scanning height (mm) : 3000x3000x3000
Technology : structured light

ISense can prepare 3D printable files within minutes thanks to its editing tools and is fully integrated with the cube printer which makes your printing process smoother.


« Personal 3D Scanners (under $15,000)»

“3D Personal Scanners” covers all of the 3D scanners we could find for less than $15,000. Some are portable, some fit on your desktop, and all of them will get you a 3D file of your object. Those 3D files will help you recreate a miniature version of the object, and even a full-size replica (if the object is smaller) The resolution of the scans varies, but you can always tweak the specifics of the design in a 3rd party program.

3D Systems Sense (Portable)


Price: $495
Depth resolution @ 0.5m: 1mm
Spatial x/y resolution @0.5m: 0,9mm
Maximum scanning height (mm) : 2000x2000x2000
Technology : structured light
Export Formats : .stl, .obj, .ply

The Sense from 3D Systems is very easy to use and is portative. Even if small details are not always that well transcribed, the resolution is still acceptable. However, the lost tracking during scanning may necessitate a rescan.

Rubicon 3D (Desktop)


Price: $550
Resolution: Up to 0,1 mm
Texture resolution: 5MP
Maximum scanning height (mm): 165x165x165
Technology: Laser triangulation
Export Format: .obj, .off
Texture resolution: 5MP

” The 3D Rubicon ” has two assets; an excellent texture capture on the object and a decent price. The product does not possess a webcam and is not able to scan objects up to 160 mm in diameter and 250 mm in height

DAVID SLS 3 (Portable)


Price: $3995
Resolution:Up to 0.5% of object size
Precision:0.5% of object size
Maximum scanning height (mm): /
Technology: /
Export Formats: /

The third version of the David SLS gain in speed, it’s two times faster than before. The accuracy has increased as well, up to 0.05 mm with a mesh density of 2.300.000 vertices by scan. Also, the scan size has slightly improved to 60-500mm in this version.

MakerBot Digitizer (Desktop)


Price: $799
Detail Resolution: Up to 0.5 mm
Dimensional Precision: Up to ± 2 mm
Maximum scanning height (mm): 203x203x203
Technology: Laser triangulation
Export Format : .stl, .thing

Digitizer has integrated solution and has a workflow with Replicator 2. However, its resolution is relatively low.

Shining 3D EinScan-S (Desktop)


Price: $1199
Resolution: 1.3 Megapixel
Precision: Up to 0,1 mm
Maximum scanning height (mm): 700x700x700 (free) ; 200x200x200 (automatic)
Technology: White light
Export Format: /

3D Shining EinScan Pro has four different scanning modes, which for this price is an interesting opportunity. It includes accessories for a good color texture capture. The only drawback is it can only be operated indoors.


Einscan-Pro (Portable)

einscan pr


Price: $3999

Resolution: 1.3 Mega pixel
Precision: Up to 0,05 mm
Export Format: .obj, .stl, .asc

3D Shining EinScan Pro has four different scanning modes, which for this price is a very good opportunity. It includes accessories for a good color texture capture. The only drawback is it can only be operated indoors.



Fuel 3D – Scanify (Portable)


Price: $1,788
Resolution: Down to 350 microns
Precision: Up to 0.3 mm
Maximum scanning height (mm): 210×300
Technology : Fuson of stereoscopic & photometric data

Export format : .stl, .ply, .obj

The 3D Fuel, is an extraordinary value, given the renders it produces. It’s texture capturing capabilities are extraordinary however it is not the most ergonomic scanners.


AIO Robotics Zeus (Desktop)


Price: $2,499
Resolution: 0.125 mm
Precision: 0.250 mm
Maximum scanning height (mm): 22.9 x 12.7 cm/9.0 x 5.0 inches (Dia. x H)
Technology: /
Export Format: .ply, obj, .stl, .aio

The 3D printer Robotics AIO Zeus doubles as a scanner and a fax machine. It has a 7-inch color touchscreen and a WiFi connection. The maintenance can be more expensive and takes more space than a standard scanner

RangeVision RV 3D Scanner Standard Plus (Portable)


Price: $11,700
Resolution: Up to 0,05 mm
Precision: Up to 0,03 mm
Technology: Structured Light
Export Formats: .stl, .ascii, . obj, .ply, .stl, .vrml

RangeVision RV 3D Scanner Standard plus boasts a high scan speed, an adapting scanning area, annual support (via e-mail), a wide working distance, Direct STL export and multiple modular configurations. Nevertheless, it requires a tripod (given with the scanner) and does not include texture scanning.

Artec EVA Lite (Portable)


Price: $15,500
Resolution:Up to 0.5 mm
Precision: Up to ± 0.1 mm
Maximum scanning height (mm): /
Technology: Structured light
Export Format: .obj, .ply, .wrl, .stl, .aop, .ascii, .ptx, .e57, .xyzrgb

The “light” version of EVA (from ARTEC) has the advantage of a lightweight body and an easy upgrading process to the “Eva” (as opposed to the EVA Lite). Artec Eva was even used to scan Barack Obama and help make the very first 3D portrait of an American president. This lite version has no texture captures and does not take into account small details in 3D capture. But these options are included in the upgraded version

« Professional 3D Scanners (above $15,000) »

“Professional 3D Scanners” include scanners for professional users or consumers with high expectations. Chosen for their precision and their level of details, they are primarily used in Archeology and Architecture, or artistic purposes such as cinema, animation movie or even video games.

Artec EVA (Portable)


Price: $15,500
Resolution: Up to 0.5 mm
Precision: Up to ± 0.1 mm
Maximum scanning height (mm): 536×371
Scan distance or volume: 1 meter
Technology: Structured light
Export Format: .obj, .ply, .wrl, .stl, .aop, .ascii, .ptx, .e57, .xyzrgb

Combining a good texture capture and a good precision, Spider has also a relatively light weight and a good autonomy on battery. However, no software are included and the price might be a little bit excessive.

Artec Space Spider (Portative)

Price: $23,500
Resolution: Up to 0.1 mm
Precision: Up to 0.05 mm
Maximum scanning height (mm): 180×140
Technology: Structured light
Export Format: .obj, .ply, .wrl, .stl, .aop, .ascii, .ptx, .e57, .xyzrgb

The technical features of the space spider model are similar to the spider model except that the warm-up time of the the space spider is 10 times faster than the spider model, which allows an enhanced accuracy.

Nikon ModelMaker MMCx (Portable)


Price: $25, 620
Resolution: /
Precision: Up to 0,0016 mm
Technology: Laser beams
Export Format: .stl
Scan Distance or Volume: 50mm

Nikon ModelMaker MMCX is fast and accurate. It can scan almost all industrial materials and has automation capacities. Nevetheless, it is planned for only small volumes and parts of a larger industrial solution


FARO Focus 3D X330 (Portable)


Price: $18,350

The FARO Focus 3D X330 has an amazing accuracy for its price, it supports a wide range of file types and has over 300 degrees of view field, which is a lot for a tripod-mounted scanner.


FARO Laser ScanArm (Portable)


Price: $35,000
Technology: Laser arm
Export Formats: /

Laser ScanArm from FARO provides a compact and light system that is easy to use. It uses a point cloud technology which quickly collects and assembles a piece with a good resolution and precision.


Mantis Vision F5 (Portable)


Price: $39,000
Resolution: Up to 0.5 mm
Precision: Up to 0.05 mm
Maximum scanning height (mm):
Technology: Structured Light
Export Format: OBJ, PTX, STL, ASCII, PL

Mantis Vision F5 is relatively light (only 1,7kg), also easy-to-use, robust and requires no sample. However, it is made of 2 separate parts.

CREAFORM HandyScan 700 (Portative)

Price: $56,900
Resolution: Up to 0,05 mm
Precision: Up to 0,03 mm
Technology: Structured light

The HandyScan 700 from Creaform can create a broad range of 3D files types from the 3D scans it produces. It’s the fastest 3D scanner on the market, has the highest measurement rate among all lasers scanners an automatic mesh output. However, its performance level drops dramatically on objects that are smaller than 10 cm.

Solutionix Rexcan CS + 5.0MP (Desktop)


Price: $58, 900
Resolution: 0.035 mm
Precision: 0.01 mm
Technology: Structured Light
Export Formats: .stl

Solutionix Rexcan CS + has a good performance. It benefits from twin cameras and automatic calibration. At only 4kg, can easily be installed on a desktop. It has compatibility with STL files, ezScan and Geomatic software just as 3 sets of lenses are included. That being said, it requires some (simple) manipulation for larger objects.

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