3D Printering: Scanning 3D models

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.

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A portable, WiFi-enabled Kinect

The builds using a Kinect as a 3D scanner just keep getting better and better. A team of researchers from the University of Bristol have portablized the Kinect by adding a battery, single board Linux computer, and a WiFi adapter. With their Mobile Kinect project, it’s now a snap to automatically map an environment without lugging a laptop around, or just giving your next mobile robot an awesome vision system.

By making the Kinect portable, [Mike] et al made the Microsoft’s 3D imaging device much more capable than its present task of computing the volumetric space of the inside of a cabinet. The Reconstructme project allows the Kinect to be used as a hand-held 3D scanner and Kintinuous can be used to create a 3D model of entire houses, buildings, or caves.

There’s a lot that can be done with a portabalized, WiFi’d Kinect, and hopefully a few builds replicating the team’s work (except for replacing the Gumstix board with a Raspi) will be showing up on HaD shortly.

Video after the break.

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3D mapping of huge areas with a Kinect

The picture you see above isn’t a doll house, nocliped video game, or any other artificially created virtual environment. That bathroom exists in real life, but was digitized into a 3D object with a Kinect and Kintinuous, an awesome piece of software that allows for the creation of huge 3D environments in real time.

Kintinuous is an extension of the Kinect Fusion and ReconstructMe projects. Where Fusion and ReconstructMe were limited to mapping small areas in 3D – a tabletop, for example, Kintinuous allows a Kinect to me moved from room to room, mapping an entire environment in 3D.

The paper for Kintinuous is available going over how the authors are able to capture point cloud data and overlay the color video to create textured 3D meshes. After the break are two videos showing off what Kintinuous can do. It’s jaw dropping, and the implications are amazing. We can’t find the binaries or source for Kintinuous, but if anyone finds a link, drop us a line and we’ll update this post.

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Very easy 3D scanning software with ReconstructMe

[Maxzillian] sent in a pretty amazing project he’s been beta testing called ReconstructMe. Even though this project is just the result of software developers getting bored at their job, there’s a lot of potential in the 3D scanning abilities of ReconstructMe.

ReconstructMe is a software interface that allows anyone with a Kinect (or other 3D depth camera) in front of a scene and generate a 3D object on a computer in an .STL or .OBJ file. There are countless applications of this technology, such as scanning objects to duplicate with a 3D printer, or importing yourself into a video game.

There are a few downsides to ReconstructMe: The only 3D sensors supported are the xBox 360 Kinect and the ASUS Xtion. The Kinect for Windows isn’t supported yet. Right now, ReconstructMe is limited to scanning objects that fit into a one-meter cube and can only operate from the command line, but it looks like the ReconstructMe team is working on supporting larger scans.

While it’s not quite ready for prime time, ReconstructMe could serve as the basis for a few amazing 3D scanner builds. Check out the video demos after the break.

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