5 Best 3D Scanners for Every Need and Budget

With the best 3D scanner, you can scan any real-world object quickly and accurately to make a high-resolution 3D model of it. In doing so, you can generate a 3D model of the thing for further study and inspection. You could also use a 3D printer to build an actual replica of your product, or you could create art out of it.

The topic is lit up by lights or lasers in a 3D scanner. By manually setting the lighting and subject position, you can get more accurate measurements than if you let software “guess” where the 3D points triangulate.

This post will guide you in the direction of the top 3D scanners on the market right now. Our top five models are suitable for a variety of uses and price points.

Revopoint POP 2

The POP 2 3D scanner is the latest version of the POP 3D scanner, which was funded by Kickstarter and became a huge hit. The POP 2, like its predecessor, is a scanner that aims to be both simple to use and inexpensive. It received a lot more money than its creators had anticipated, and it is now for sale.

The POP 2 has been updated with new features and better technology. By putting together binocular micro-structured infrared light and a proprietary micro projection chip, it is now possible to scan with an accuracy of up to 0.05 mm in a single frame.

The scanner has a modest footprint compared to comparable machines on the market and only weighs 195 grams, making it possible to create full-color scans at 10 frames per second, either stationary or on the move.

What You Need to Know About the Top 3 Affordable 3D Scanners of 2022

In addition to the standard case, there is a basic model and a premium model that includes a power bank and a portable turntable.

Creality CR-Scan 01

Creality is known for making cheap 3D printers, and the Creality CR-Scan 01 3D scanner aims to keep this reputation. Using structured light technology, it can “feel out” the size and shape of a 3D object, so it can make an exact digital copy.

The handheld and stationary turntable modes that come with the Creality CR-Scan 01 are both useful in their own ways.

When used in handheld mode, the scanner can easily move through bigger objects in a short amount of time, making it easy to get data quickly and on the spot.

In turntable mode, the tripod-mounted Creality CR-Scan 01 automatically makes a higher-resolution 360-degree scan as the object turns on the turntable.

Both modes may achieve 0.1 mm accuracy, 0.5 mm resolution, 24-bit high-fidelity color mapping, and marker-free scanning thanks to a sophisticated alignment system.

The Creality CR-Scan 01 can work in low-light settings because it automatically adjusts to the light around it. All in all, it’s hard to beat the price considering how many useful functions you get, and it’ll meet the demands of most amateur scanners.

However, the Creality CR-Scan 01 stands out due to its scanning area of 536 x 378 mm, which is larger than that of other low-cost 3D scanners (400-900 mm). In practice, a larger frame size lets you scan medium-sized to large items from farther away, which cuts scanning time by a huge amount.

Last but not least, the included Creality’s CR Studio is a powerful post-processing suite with a wide variety of editing, repair, color, and smoothing capabilities to get digital scans ready for 3D printing or other uses. It’s a worthy alternative to the more popular RevoPoint scanners.

Matter and Form V2 MFS1V2

The Matter and Form V2 is the most recent version of the first desktop 3D scanner made by the Canadian tech startup Matter and Form. This inexpensive 3D scanner has 2 lasers and an HD-CMOS sensor that allow it to scan in full color and high resolution.

It’s simple to upload scans from the scanner to your computer through USB, and it has an accuracy of up to about 0.1mm.

The Matter and Form scanner comes with Mf Studio, which lets you edit scans, and Quickscan, which lets you scan in as little as 65 seconds. Once you’ve exported the STL file, you may use a 3D printer to make the model.

Scanning objects up to 25 cm in height and 18 cm in diameter is possible with the 3D scanner. Mac users can rest easy knowing that it works with every major operating system. It is a great portable 3D scanner, though, because it can be folded up.

Scan Dimension SOL 3D Scanner

The SOL is a desktop laser scanner that costs a reasonable amount of money and can be used to scan small but detailed objects.

The scanner itself scans things up to 2 kg in weight but only weighs 7 lb. Due to its lightweight design, this 3D scanner is ideal for use while traveling.

Depending on what you’re scanning, it can switch between two modes:

  1. Scan objects up to 100 mm in diameter and 100 mm in height with the near mode.
  2. Scanning in far mode is possible for objects up to 170 mm in both diameter and height.

Size limits of objects in near and far range for the Sol 3D scanner

The SOL’s accuracy is impressive for the price, coming in at roughly 0.1 mm. Using the bundled SOL 3D scanning program, you can capture detailed images of things, which you can then export as an OBJ or STL file and bring into a 3D slicer to be printed.

A Danish company called Scan Dimension promotes this amazing 3D visualizer not just for makers and hobbyists but also for people in business. Businesses are told that the SOL 3D scanning camera can give customers a full 360-degree view of their products, which can then be easily uploaded to Facebook.

Scan Dimension also says that the scanner is perfect for use in the classroom, especially to teach students about STEM subjects by scanning and changing real buildings.

In general, it works great as a 3D scanner for both professional use and personal use at home.

Shining 3D EinScan SE

With affordable alternatives like the EinScan-SE and more expensive scanners like the EinScan Pro 2X Plus, Shining 3D has created a name for itself in the mid-range 3D scanning market.

If you’re looking for a high-quality 3D scanner at a reasonable price, look no further than the EinScan SE. It takes about 2 minutes for the Automatic Scan mode to complete a full 360 degrees, compared to 4 seconds for the EinScan SP.

One of the top 3D scanners under $2000, it has a single-shot accuracy of within 0.1 mm and can scan objects up to about 200 mm in width and 150 mm in height. The maximum scan volume is increased to 700 x 700 mm when the turntable is not used.

In general, this 3D model scanner is reliable, accurate, and quick. This means that it is easy to scan inanimate objects and then 3D print them. The EinScan SP, which will be talked about in more detail in the rest of this article, costs more but is more accurate. Whether or not you should spend the extra money on this higher quality depends on your preferences and means.

3D Scanner Buyer’s Guide: What You Need to Know

Resolution and Accuracy

Accuracy is how closely the digital version of a physical thing matches the real thing. The degree to which the 3D scan matches the actual thing in terms of size, shape, and other characteristics appears in mm-based specifications.

Most cheap 3D scanners are accurate to within 0.1–0.2 mm, while high-end industrial scanners can be accurate to within 0.009 mm or even less.

“Resolution” is the smallest distance that two points in a 3D scan can be from each other. It is similar to accuracy. Simply said, a greater resolution produces a more detailed and accurate image. Manufacturers typically talk about resolution in millimeters, a metric that grows or reduces depending on the cost of the 3D scanner.

Low-cost printers have resolutions of 0.3–0.5 mm, whereas high-end scanners can achieve 0.1 mm.

Software and Connectivity

The connectivity of a 3D scanner is how it gets power, talks to a computer, and/or receives data to export. USB is the norm, but Bluetooth is available on a select few devices.

If you want to scan quickly on the go, you might want to get a handheld scanner that you can use with your phone and a portable power source.

With 3D scanners, you can use a wide range of software, from simple scanning tools to full suites that give you a lot of options for fine-tuning scans afterward.

It goes without saying that each scanner’s software features are designed with their intended users in mind. If you’re willing to pay more, the software that comes with a professional scanner will usually give you more options and settings.

Speed

When discussing 3D scanners, “speed” refers to the rate at which a machine can take a 3D scan of an object. Both home and professional 3D scanners track time in points per second or frames per second. The quicker the scanner, the greater the count.

Look into quicker printers, which often push points per second into the millions and frame rates of around 20 FPS, if you’re shopping for a professional setting where productivity is crucial.

Budget

A 3D scanner might cost anything from $400 to $200,000. In the middle of those two extremes, you’ll find a wealth of solutions that work with every kind of budget.

About $5,000 will get you more powerful equipment for light-professional scanning, while less than $1,000 will get you a hobby scanner that can be used for 3D printing.

Optimal scanners for demanding industrial applications like engineering can cost more than $10,000.

Use Case

Hobbyists who want to scan objects for use in 3D printing will find entry-level 3D scanners to be a useful alternative. They’re practically cheap and functional, but they can’t compete with more expensive ones in terms of speed or precision.

Larger models are best scanned with a handheld 3D scanner. These allow you to move around and capture more of a larger object’s dimensions and details. Faster scanning of huge items is another benefit of a wide scanning area.

It’s best to use stationary scanners with a turntable, a tripod, and an optimal alignment algorithm to scan small, fixed objects. This way, you can get a good look at all the fine details and textures of a model.

3D Scanner Cost

Budget

Companies like Creality and Revopoint are working hard to make 3D scanners more affordable and widely available.

Affordable entry-level scanners are now widely available for around $1,000, and some, like the Phiz 3D scanner, may be had for as little as $400.

Budget 3D scanners provide everything needed to produce decent quality scans suitable for hobbyist applications, but they lack the experience and features commensurate with the price paid.

Mid-range

As we move up to the moderately priced bracket, we find 3D scanners that cost anything from $1,000 to $10,000. These are professional-grade devices with reasonable prices. They have a variety of technologies and scanning modes and produce high-quality scans.

Industrial

Industrial grade devices will set you back more than $10,000. These solutions can’t be beat because they have the highest levels of accuracy, resolution, and speed of scanning. They can be used in fields as different as science and engineering and for visualization tasks as complicated as architectural modeling and rapid prototyping.

Types of 3D Scanners

Laser Triangulation

Laser scanning is a method of measuring the dimensions of an object by beaming a laser point onto it and collecting the reflected light with a sensor. The 3D scanner uses trigonometric functions based on the angle of reflection from the laser sensors to create surfaces and textures that look like they are real.

Scanning glossy or reflecting surfaces can be inefficient, and it won’t function effectively with anything clear because it relies on reflections.

Most people think that scanning with structured light is more accurate than scanning with a laser.

Structured Light Scanning

Structured light scanning is often used in handheld 3D scanners. It involves projecting patterns of light onto an object, and then placing two cameras on either side of the projector to measure the pattern of light from each side and calculate accurate differences at every point in their field of view.

These cameras record information about how the light distorts the pattern of light. Then, using points of overlap from different camera angles, the size of the scan can be worked out.

Structured light scanning is often used in 3D scanners for dental implants and models that are small and accurate. NASA uses this kind of 3D scanning to make maps of the surfaces of other planets, and architects use it to keep digital records of important historical landmarks.

But because it uses projected light, it is very sensitive to the lighting in the scanning environment. This makes it hard to use outdoors or in other bright places.

LiDAR 3D Scanning and Time of Flight 3D Scanning

Another type of 3D scanning, LiDAR, is featured in the newest iPhone, the 12 Pro. Using the speed of light, a Lidar 3D scanner sends out light beams and calculates the area of the item depending on how long it takes to reflect back to itself.

To generate a 3D image, or “point cloud,” these scanners fire out bursts of light and then measure the amount of time it takes for each pulse to reach its target. They are widely employed in the fields of cartography, real estate valuation, and building.

Stationary 3D Scanners

A fixed scanner is a good choice if you need to scan a lot of small objects quickly and easily. The majority of them have a turntable and a stand that you may use. Most of the time, automated scanning and a variety of ways to line things up are included.

Portable 3D Scanners

Portable scanners are made to be portable and flexible, so they can scan a wide range of objects and environments, including people, quickly and without limits.

3D Body Scanners

As the name suggests, the main goal of 3D body scanners is to do a thorough 3D scan of the human body.

3D body scanners are big, expensive machines that can quickly and accurately scan the whole body for use in medicine, fitness, animation, and other fields.

How Does 3D Scanning Work?

When it comes to 3D scanning, there are two main methods. The first option is to use a camera, smartphone, or drone to take 360-degree panoramic images, and then import those images into a program like display.land to generate 3D triangulation points. It’s convenient since no new tools are needed for this method, but it’s also not very precise.

The second plan is to use specialized 3D scanners like the ones we talked about in the last section of this article.

Even though the main goal of photo scanning is to capture color, keep in mind that some devices can get 3D shapes with no tone at all. (Game developers might not care, but stores need precise colors so customers can spin products and see them from all angles.)

However, a digital scan will always have certain imperfections. There will be a fixed amount of space between each laser trace on the outside of the subject, just like a picture scanner has a fixed amount of space between each photo pixel. Although some surface detail may be lost in the process, it is helpful to discover tools that can fill these gaps and create “closed models.” Like photo editing, fixing the mesh will likely need some manual labor.

Since 3D scanners haven’t yet outsold 3D printers in sales, it seems like the world might use more 3D content producers. If you had a 3D scanner, you might be able to offer a commercial service, but you wouldn’t be rich right away.