The Makerbot Digitizer was announced this week, giving anyone with $1400 the ability to scan small objects and print out a copy on any 3D printer.
Given the vitriol spewed against Makerbot in the Hackaday comments and other forums on the Internet, it should be very obvious the sets of Hackaday readers and the target demographic Makerbot is developing and marketing towards do not intersect. We’re thinking anyone reading this would rather roll up their sleeves and build a 3D scanner, but where to start? Below are a few options out there for those of you who want a 3D scanner but are none too keen on Makerbot’s offering.
The Makerbot digitizer is actually a pretty simple device. It’s just a turntable, camera, and a pair of laser diodes. This is something we’ve seen before with a DSLR and laser pointer as well as a digicam, laser level, and an old LP turntable. The hardware is just one part of this equation – a lot of the effort that goes into making a digital 3D object with this method is put into the capture algorithm. The builds above use everything from MATLAB to a Python script, all available for your perusal.
The ‘laser and camera’ method isn’t the only way to capture 3D objects. With the availability of small pico projectors, a few tinkerers have looked into structure light scanning. This method records several images of black and white bars projected onto an image. There are also several libraries that can take these images and turn them into something readable by Blender, with one of the most popular being the Structured Light library
Microsoft’s Kinect has also been used to great effect in the world of 3D printing; one of the best projects around is ReconstructMe, a tool that allows any computer with a Kinect to serve as a scanner that is at least as accurate as anything else. One problem, though: the ‘pro’ version of the software costs €180/$240 USD.
Of course all these solutions to the problem of scanning in 3D only work with relatively small projects. If you want to scan something bigger – a car or even a building – your best bet is probably something along the line of Kintinuous. This amazing application allows you to take a Kinect into the field and scan huge areas, turning them into a model that can be printed, or just a Counter Strike map.
It should be noted that neither the source nor binaries of Kintinous are available, thanks to a few restrictions placed on the researchers behind this awesome tool. The paper for Kintinous is available, and we’ve heard the researchers would be delighted if someone would take their technique and apply it to a functioning open source project.