Budget 3d Scanning Options

While Kinect Fusion may be coming to some future version of the Kinect SDK, there are already ways a hobbyist can digitize real world objects into scans without paying for an expensive 3d scanner.

123Catch

Take standard camera pictures of all sides of the object you want to scan.  It can be a person, a building, a car, statues, small objects or big objects.  Sign up for an account with autodesk and download the program, then make a new project and add all your photos.  The photos will be uploaded to autodesk, which will then try to run its 3d algorithm on them to create a 3d version of what you’re scanning.

Sometimes 123Catch works great, but sometimes the algorithm gets confused.  Metallic objects or reflective surfaces throw it off.  Complex structures or internal openings confuse the program too.  Occasionally, you can solve these issues by entering manual mode and tagging points yourself for the program to use, but sometimes this just confuses the program even more, and you end up with a tiny 3d blob, or nothing at all.

ReconstructMe

Take advantage of the low pricing on the Microsoft Kinect and the free version of ReconstructMe to get a functional wand scanner.  This option takes a bit of technical setup, but the output is much better than 123Catch.  Once you’ve selected and installed the correct drivers for the Kinect, you use it as a wand to record your subject in 3d, essentially painting them into the program.  ReconstructMe has a clear tutorial on how to scan.

kinect reconstructme scan example

If you have a slow graphics card, you’ll want to save the recording to your disk and run the algorithm offline.  Computers older than a few years get stuck during reconstruction, and sometimes end up eating away at your model as it builds a new version a foot to the side of the old model.

If scanning larger objects, or the entire body of a person, you’ll need to use ReconstructMe to make slices, since it can only handle one cubic meter at a time.  It does automatically join the slices if you create good partitions.

The output of ReconstructMe, if used correctly, is a high density polygon map of whatever you were scanning.  This can be cleaned up and used to 3d print the object.  Makerbot recently demonstrated the technique by scanning and printing the heads of the band The Hives.

3d Scan Cleanup

With either of these tools, you’ll have to do cleanup of the object after scanning is complete to be able to print it.  There are a few demos of how to do this cleanup step.  Here’s the best video on cleaning up ReconstructMe scans using a few tools that are free to use.

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December 3, 2012
Categories: 3d Scanning, Tutorials

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