Text: We feature discounted software and hardware which make it possible to digitize physical objects, produce 3-D virtual models, translate graphics into 3-D reliefs, and make actual 3-D prototypes, sculpture, jewelry, and other real parts from your virtual models.

Scanning Devices Page

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Introduction

3D scanning is different from the regular scanning most of us are familiar with. Instead of recording 2D information from a picture or object placed on the glass, such as text, grayscale images, or color photographs, 3D scanners pick up positional information from the surface of an object, registering the location of points in space, so that a 3D model of a form can be reconstructed. The means used to do this range from hand-held digitizing arms which capture a point at a time, to automated touchprobes that capture points by moving a sensitive needle over the surface of an object, to laser light beams that can record surface information from an object without touching it at all. Whether you’re trying to “reverse-engineer” a model from an existing part or measuring an irregular space for custom-fit hardware, scaling down an object you’ve sculpted to use it in jewelry or wanting to make a right-facing part from a left-facing one, or creating a virtual model from a natural form or an archaeological artifact, these machines can save you a lot of time and effort in the modeling process.

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Roland’s MDX Line

Combination Touch-Probe Scanner and Milling Machine

Roland MDX-20 Scanner

Roland Digital Group makes a series of machines for capturing surface data from objects and then carving them from solid material. We own and use the MDX-15 and MDX-20 ourselves, and we’ve found them very useful tools for what we do. These are combination units: a touch-probe scanner and light-duty milling machine in one integrated package with a working envelope of 6″ x 4″ x 238″ (for the MDX-15) or 8″ x 6″ x 238″ (for the MDX-20). On both machines, a fine and sensitive piezo-electric scanning needle records even delicate objects without damage or distortion and stores them as polygon mesh surface data which can be exported to other programs or milled out using the cutting spindle of this versatile machine. Roland’s Dr. Picza scanning software, Modela Player and Dr. Engrave milling software is included with both MDX models, which we also sell separately. We’re an authorized Roland dealer, so we’re not allowed to list our prices on these products, but we sell them for a significant discount and we’re confident we can beat the competition’s prices.

Manufacturer: Roland Digital Group

Versions Sold:

Roland MDX-15

Roland MDX-15

List Price: $2,995

Roland MDX-20

List Price: $4,495

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Roland’s PICZA SCANNER

Affordable Desktop Scanning in 3D

Roland PIX-4 Scanner

Roland Digital Group also made a couple of affordable machines dedicated solely to touch-probe scanning. They both use Roland Active Piezo Sensor (“RAPS”) technology for high precision. They offer scan pitches in the X/Y axis directions of 0.002 to 0.197 inches incrementable in steps of 0.002 inches (or 0.001 inches for the Z-axis). They come with Dr. Picza 3D scanning software, and can create mesh models which can be stored in the DXF, STL, 3DMF, IGES, and VRML file formats. The PIX-4 unit has a maximum work area of 6″ x 4″ x 2.4″. Roland has discontinued making these dedicated touch-probe scanners, but we still have some in stock.

Manufacturer: Roland Digital Group

Versions Sold:

Roland PIX-4

List Price: $1,995

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Roland’s 3D Laser Scanner

A Breakthrough Price for Laser Scanning

Roland LPX-600 Laser Scanner

Roland Digital also produces a laser-scanner, the LPX-600, at a breakthrough price for this type of machine. It is capable of scanning objects which fit in a 16″ high by 10″ diameter cylindrical space (up to 11 pounds) much more quickly than a touch-probe, although with somewhat less maximum resolution. We’ve owned one of these for a few months now, and have been impressed with its speed and ease of use, as well as the lack of surface “noise” evident in the earlier LPX-250 version. It uses planar scanning to capture single or multiple 3D views of a subject at up to 0.008 inches resolution in X and Y, or it performs rotary scanning at up to 1,800 steps per revolution and the same X/Y pitch. The laser sensor doesn’t contact the object to be scanned; it moves up and from side to side as the object is moved on its turntable. It is bundled with Dr. Picza for control of the scanning operation as well as EZ-scan software from Geometry Systems, Inc. This makes scanning extremely simple—just load the part onto the turntable, securing it with screws if necessary, then press Preview. Yellow lines are then automatically generated that show where the part is. After deciding how many planes are to be scanned setting the scanning resolution, and deciding whether or not to fill in all holes, just press the Scan button—the machine does the rest.

Please note that shiny, clear or dark-colored objects may present difficulties unless painted in a lighter matte color which is easier for the laser to register. The unit weighs about 90 pounds. We’re an authorized Roland dealer and we’re not allowed to list our prices on this product, but we sell it for a significant discount. We’re confident we can beat the competition’s prices.

If you are working with objects no bigger than 12″ high and 8″ diameter, the recently-introduced LPX-60 might be worth considering. It has pretty much the same specifications as the LPX-600, also digitizing with a maximum resolution of .008″ (.2mm) but it’s smaller, lighter, and considerably less expensive. It also comes with the LPX EZ Studio scanning software from GSI Inc.

If you need higher resolution scans than the LPX-600 will do, and are working with smaller objects, the LPX-1200 is worth considering. Although it has a smaller envelope than the LPX-600 (it will scan objects up to 5″ diameter by 8″ high), it is stiffer in construction, and is equipped with a ballscrew-driven sensor which rides on a linear bearing. Perfect for jewelry applications, it scans with a resolution of .0039″ (.1 mm)—compared with .2 mm for the LPX-600. Although the LPX-1200 no longer includes PixForm Pro software (based on RapidForm), Roland lowered the list price by $6,000. The LPX-1200DS does include EZ-Studio software and can be upgraded with the new PixForm Pro II software. The details on this new product and bundle are pending. The PixForm software, which is no longer included, is capable of editing and refining meshes, filling holes, and generating NURBS surfaces, which are useful in programs like Rhino.

Manufacturer: Roland Digital Group

Version Sold:

Roland LPX-60DS

List Price: $8,395

Roland LPX-600DS

List Price: $12,595

Roland LPX-1200DS (without PixForm Pro Software)

List Price: $15,995

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Creaform’s Handyscan™ RevScan

Creaform's RevScanCreaform's RevScan in Use

Creaform, based in Quebec, has come up with a line of handheld laser scanners that are flexible, easy to use, and capable of capturing more different sorts of data than other 3D scanners. The base model RevScan, like the rest of the HandyScan line, has 3 “eyes”—the one in the middle projects a cross-shaped pattern with a laser, while the ones on the sides are video cameras that observe how the laser lines fall on the 3D surface being scanned, calculate where it must be by comparing the two angular views, and reconstruct the surface automatically. Additionally, LED lights illuminate it to capture the reflective “targets” applied to the surface as positioning references. By registering to these targets, the scanner can accomodate movement of the part, such as turning it over to expose a fresh area for scanning. This makes for a very flexible scanning process, since the part need not be supported rigidly, as for most other types of 3D scanning, and scanning is not restricted to a fixed line of sight, since the angle can be adjusted to capture hidden areas.

The RevScan makes 18,000 separate measurements per second, scanning at .004″ (.1mm) resolution, enough to create a highly detailed model. The included software can intelligently decimate the model. using larger triangles in flatter areas to reduce polygon count and avoid bogging down the computer while preserving detail where needed by leaving triangles small in complicated areas. Data is exported in the STL, OBJ, and formats.

Manufacturer: Creaform

Version Sold:

Handyscan™ RevScan

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Creaform’s Handyscan™ UniScan

Creaform's UniScan
Creaform's UniScan in UseCreaform's UniScan in Use

This is basically the same product as the RevScan, with the same speed of acquisition, accuracy and hardware specifications, but at a sharply lower price, which makes it affordable for many more users. The only difference is that the VXScan Express software it comes with lacks some features available in regular VXScan, such as the ability to scan positioning targets without scanning the part, and “automatic volume positioning”, which takes a guess at the placement of the target object within the scanning volume. This model, along with the rest of the Creaform lineup, is (optionally) bundled with Rapidform’s XOS-H software, which allows users to clean up scan meshes, fill holes, and generate NURBS surfaces automatically. The surfaces and meshes produced can be used directly as inputs for CAM software to produce physical models by subtraction, or fed to RP machines to produce them by addition. We also sell Rapidform’s flagship XOR software, which uses scan data as a starting point for reverse engineering, reconstructing design intent from sometimes-fragmentary data and creating clean Class-A surfaces from point clouds or noisy meshes, which can be exported as meshes, NURBS, or in various parametric formats.

Manufacturer: Creaform

Versions Sold:

Handyscan™ UniScan

Rapidform XOS-H (with purchase of any Creaform scanner)

Rapidform XOR

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Creaform’s Handyscan™ ExaScan

Creaform's ExaScanCreaform's ExaScan in Use

The ExaScan is similar to the RevScan, but it uses a higher-resolution camera to capture detail at four times the resolution of the base model RevScan. It makes more measurements per second (25,000 instead of 18,000) at a resolution of .002″ (.05mm). This makes it capable of use in parts inspection, Finite Element Analysis, and other demanding applications as well as useful for digitizing various objects with more detail. But this is optional—one can switch from high-resolution scanning to regular mode if the project doesn’t need the extra resolution, or the heavier part files that come with it.

Manufacturer: Creaform

Version Sold:

Handyscan™ ExaScan

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Creaform’s Handyscan™ ViuScan

Creaform's ViuScan
Creaform's ExaScan in UseCreaform's ExaScan in Use

The ViuScan adds the power to collect full-color texture maps to the basic functions of the RevScan, making it useful for even more purposes, such as advertising, animation, and museology. The color information from the surface of the object being scanned is captured simultaneously, using its built-in LED lights, and is automatically mapped accurately to the mesh surface, avoiding hours of tedious post-scanning adjustments. The software automatically fills in the areas where the positioning targets were, so the result is a faithful representation of the object in color, which can be rotated to show it from all sides. The ViuScan makes 18,000 measurements per second, with a resolution of .004″ (.05mm).

Manufacturer: Creaform

Version Sold:

Handyscan™ ViuScan

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Creaform’s Handyscan™ MaxScan

Creaform's MaxScanCreaform's MaxScan in Use

The MaxScan combines the accuracy of its laser scanning process with photogrammetry to enable the scanning of large to very large objects, such as an entire airplane. Photogrammetry, the derivation of 3D data by interpolation from multiple 2D views, is good for quickly establishing a basic geometric volume, although it is less useful for filling in detail or recognizing the subtleties of organic forms. With a limitless build envelope defined by the photogram, the laser scanner can be used where necessary to add detail or fill in ambiguous areas. Unlike with other systems, it’s not necessary to merge multiple separate scans or “leapfrog” the setup in order to capture a large surface; the scan is unified and continuous by default. The MaxScan makes 18,000 measurements per second, with a resolution of .004″ (.05mm).

Manufacturer: Creaform

Version Sold:

Handyscan™ MaxScan

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Creaform’s Handyscan™ HandyProbe

Creaform's HandyProbeCreaform's HandyProbe in Use

The HandyProbe is different from the scanners listed above, which are all non-contact devices. It uses the same positional tracking technology but captures its data one point at a time or as a stream of points, using a stylus to physically touch the object being measured. This avoids the problem of excess data when only point-to-point measurements are needed. It is useful for parts inspection, particularly in comparing a part to the drawing it’s based on, or assessing the accuracy of a manufactured part as compared to a prototype. But it is still a hand-held device, depending on the accompanying C-Track 780 dual-camera sensor for orientation. Since the sensor bar can be moved during the process, it’s not necessary to perform multiple setups to probe multiple sides of an object; the software recognizes the positioning reflectors and automatically reorients to the new position. The single-point accuracy is .001″ (25 microns) within a volume of 273 cubic feet (7.8 cubic meters).

Manufacturer: Creaform

Version Sold:

Handyscan™ HandyProbe

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