Top 4 Handheld 3D Scanners

With 3D handheld technology (and scanners, in general) having a breakthrough yearBuiltWorlds thought we should check in with our friend and go-to guru on all things 3D, Christopher Wilkes, an industrial engineer and 3D imaging specialist at Studio MGI. We had a number of questions, so we picked his brain a bit. In no particular order, he was pretty jazzed about these four models. The adjectives and opinions below are all Chris.

The Freestyle. Ready to scan, not ready for a battle with Eminem.

FARO FreestyleFull-color capability. Great for 3D documentation. Very portable, hooks up to Microsoft Surface Pro, and the scan data registers as you scan, which you can see on the Surface. You can see real time what you have collected. Many industries can gain from this. Since it is in the FARO family, it can also be more easily utilized with the FARO Focus Tripod data. Scan large volume with Focus, and fill in the holes with Freestyle. This excels in documenting scenes. In particular, rooms with many obstacles, like boiler rooms, etc. It is the first of its kind from FARO, so currently has some limitations on lighting. You need sufficient light to scan, so you can have issues in some outdoor conditions with sunlight. I really like this one for less precise, more industrial kinds settings.

Mantis F5. Imagine training an octopus to work this unit.

Mantis F5 SeriesNo RGB color, but texture is picked up due to reflective levels of the scanned points. So, your scan data looks somewhat greyscale.  That grey value is based off the reflectance value returned back to the scanner. Highly reflective surfaces return whiter, and lesser reflective return darker. The largest advantage right now is the speed of the data collection of the Mantis F5. Scans typically take seconds, not minutes. This can be used in complete darkness and most outdoor applications. This is also completely portable, does not need to be attached to a PC or laptop. One disadvantage is that you do not see the actual data that is being collected real time, so some technique and practice is needed to be confident in your data collection.

Artec’s Spider. If a clothing iron and a defibrillator had a kid.

ArtecLet me be clear, I have not had any first hand experience with Artec. But the more I hear about it, the more I look into it, and the more I am intrigued by it. The accuracies seem to be some of the best in the handheld realm. They boast color capabilities! It is not as portable as the two up above, and looks like it needs to be connected to PC or laptop. But you do see the data as it is collected, however, which offers real advantages for high detail/high accuracy work, and reverse engineering/quality control for parts that are the medium to larger sizes. (Think of things not exactly easy to fit on your desk next to your computer).

The PocketScan.  It’s aptly named.

Mantis PocketScanA very new offering from Mantis and significantly cheaper than the other options. With price reduction, you lose accuracy, but you do gain quite a few things. The color capabilities. A very compact size. (This bad boy can fit in your pocket!) The data comes out very clean. I think the niche here is for those more concerned with form than accurate measurements. Think scanning a person or a sculpture, etc., to get into a 3D form for printing or visualization purpose, and on the cheap, too.

For more info on these or other products, or Studio MGI, click here.

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