3D Scanning

There are many types of 3D scanners; each capable of digitizing a variety of physical objects. The Fabrication Studio offers 2 types of 3D scanners: a MicroScribe contact scanner, and NextEngine laser scanner. 

The NextEngine is a commercial desktop 3D laser scanner. It comes in two parts, the scanner and a rotating platform to place the items to be scanned. Using a high resolution camera and powerful lasers, it scans solid items, reading both surface and distance detail.

The Microscribe is a portable measurement system that allows you to work with physical objects of any size, shape, and material. Tracing over the contours of an object, it allows you to build complex 3D datasets for industrial modeling, reverse engineering, spatial alignment, and position tracking. The MicroScribe is an older device that has been discontinued by the manufacturer, but it can be configured as an input device for Rhinoceros 3D. 

Understanding the Technology

What is 3D Scanning: It is the process of sampling physical objects to collect data sets which can be used to construct 3D computer models. Primary uses of 3D scanners include: design, engineering, mapping, virtual reality, the entertainment industry, and more.

What can I scan: 3D scanners are quite versatile but there are limitations, including the object size and it’s surface properties. 

3D Scanning Benefits: 3D scanning allows one to digitize complex geometry. This digitized data can then be used for a multitude of applications.

3D Scanning Disadvantages: The 3D scanning process is quite time consuming. Optical scanners, such as the NextEngine, will struggle with highly reflective or transparent surfaces. Probe based scanners can work around this limitation, but at a great cost to speed. 

Scanner Specifications

NextEngine 3D Laser ScannerMicroscribe G2X Contact Scanner
AccuracyMacro Mode – 0.005 inch @ 400 sample points per inch
Wide Mode – 0.015 inch @ 150 sample points per inch
0.009 inch
Scan SizeMacro – 5”-9”
Wide – 15”-22”
Work Sphere Diameter: 50″
Full-color photo data is gathered at each surface
Color capture is enhanced with built-in studio lighting

Availability and Pricing

The NextEngine and Microscribe 3D scanners are available at no cost to faculty, students, and staff for academic, project, and personal use. Reservations are needed.

Learn How to use 3D scanners

To learn how to use the 3D scanners and earn your operator certification, please visit our online Canvas course. Additional learning materials are available in the Ground Connection Knowledge Base.

Reserve a 3D Scanner

The 3D scanners are available to certified users by reservation only. To reserve a 3D Scanner, check the calendar below for scanner availability, then complete the Reservation Request form. We will respond with a confirmation as soon as possible.

Reserving equipment in the Fabrication Studio is a 3 step process:

  1. Earn the appropriate Equipment Certification; see our Canvas course .
  2. Check the equipment schedule on the Resource Calendar
  3. Reserve time using the Reservation Request Form