If you haven't been living under a rock for the last few years you have probably heard all the cool stuff that is going on with 3d printing. We are now capable of printing almost anything provided we have a 3d model to work from. There are many ways to make a 3d model, but one of the coolest is to 3d scan an existing object. With a 3d scan and the right printer you can reproduce any object at any size from a house to an earring. You can also use the scan as a starting point for a new creation. Think of everything you can do with a picture in Photoshop. Now you can do that in 3d with real stuff as well.

The most amazing thing about 3d scanning is that you probably already own the best tool there is for it. It might be in your pocket, or you may be staring at it as we speak (so to speak. . .actually I'm writing and you are reading, but you know what I mean). This tool, which will allow you to capture the world in amazing 3d, is a simple camera. Combined with a little technique and some inexpensive or even free software, your camera becomes the world's most versatile 3d scanner. Stay tuned and I'll show you how.

Throughout this instructable you will find embedded 3d scans which you can explore thanks to our friends at Sketchfab. Just click on the white triangle to start, then you can experience the scan in 3d.

If you want to learn more about 3d scanning and printing be sure to check out my podcast "3d Printing Today". Its available on iTunes and Stitcher.

Step 1: How does this work?

The concept is simple. You take a bunch of photos of an object you want to capture. Every part of the object must appear in at least 3 photos to be captured. The photos are fed to a program which identifies individual spots on the object and, though a combination of trigonometry and dark magic, deduces their location in 3 dimensions. By identifying enough of these spots (sometimes literally millions of them) the program is able to make a digital reconstruction of the object, suitable for amazing your friends, embedding in your latest video game, or, sometimes, 3d printing.

Shooting the photos takes a bit of practice. You don't need to be the next Ansel Adams, but it is helpful if your photography experience goes beyond shooting selfies.

The software is pretty easy to get started with. Most of the free packages don't offer many options which makes them easy to use when they work. The more sophisticated systems can take as much time and money as you want to give them, but can reward you with amazing results.

<p>what an interesting article!</p><p>If you need more information about 3d scanners or DSLR cameras check:</p><p>www.3dscannercompare.com</p>
<p>what is software and where to get/buy to upload pictures and gat scanned 3d model? I am missing it in whole story...please direct me where to for this software.thank you.</p>
<p>Taked 50shots with Smarthphone and a small subject rotating on the head of the tripod. THe smartphone had a tripod too. Cropped the images...used memento...NOTHING, i've obtained only a &quot;flat-3D&quot; background with the ghost of the object :D What is wrong?</p>
<p>Try walking around the object while shooting rather than rotating it. Any details in the background that don't rotate with the object will screw up the scan. Also don't crop your pictures that will cause problems as well.</p>
<p>What do you think about to use turntable and for ex white board as a background in this case?</p>
404 Not Found<br>/files/orig/FF8/DN7S/IKJ8627B/FF8DN7SIKJ8627B.embed_rich was not found on this server.<br><br>Resin Professional 3.0.28 (built Mon, 18 May 2009 02:21:41 PDT)
The sketchfab site works fine.
<p>Sorry the embedded scans aren't working for you. Everything works fine for me so I don't know what I can do to fix it. You can find all the linked scans on my sketchfab page https://sketchfab.com/shapespeare/models . Hopefully you can look at them there.</p>
They are great on sketchfab.com. <br>However, the link is to instructables.com not sketchfab.com. <br>Try clearing the cache of the browser and click the links again. Here is the Nikon link: http://www.instructables.com/files/orig/FF8/DN7S/IKJ8627B/FF8DN7SIKJ8627B.embed_rich<br>
After the first page, all images present a 404 Error
<p>Those are links to 3d scans on sketchfab. Make sure your browser will show sketchfab. It is working fine for me.</p>
Everything after the shoe is ok too.
The shoe images are showing up ok
<p>golden days.</p>
<p>Thank you for this!!! I had no idea this tech existed. I'm having fun in Memento right now. </p>
<p>I use memento too! is awesome.</p>
<p>Made me very eager to try 3D scanning! Haven't got a printer but some experience with 3D-modelling so that would be very cool. I might have missed it but did you mention how important/unimportant it is to have (roughly) the same distance to the object that's being scanned? Thanks for the Instructable!</p>
<p>The modern software doesn't seem to care as long as everything is in sharp focus. I usually make an overall pass to capture the general shape of an object and then move in and capture areas of specific interest.</p>
Impressive, now I got interested in photogeometry too!... Thanks for replying! :)
<p>Hi,</p><p>Good work on this tutorial.</p><p>One question: in past projects (not 3d scanning related, but using a lot of photo and video computational math) I&acute;ve found that correcting for the lens distortion helped immensely. Have you tried? It is computationally cheap and only requires (maximum) 1 calibration per lens/camera combination. On close range the distortion can be huge, and even in ranges of a few meters it is still enough to mess up many algorithms :-)</p>
Agisoft used to have a stand alone calibration program but I haven't seen it in a while so it may be deprecated. Most software handles this automatically. They typically read the EXIF metadata from each image and make their calibration based on that.
Thanks! It is good to know we need an step less in preparing the pictures :-)<br>Cheers
<p>Is there a solidworks equavalent to Autodesk Memento?</p>
I don't think the solidworks folks have ventured into photo scanning. I understand you can import an stl mesh into solidworks as you can with most modern solid modelers. But you are rather limited with what you can do with it. It doesn't become a parametric model. 3d systems sells a package called Geomagic which will supposedly will reverse engineer a parametric model out of a scan, but I'm told its price makes solidworks look like shareware.
<p>Thanks, do you think you could list all the software you do know that does this? That may be a good addition to your instructable as well.</p>
<p>There is a very complete list at </p><p><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_photogrammetry_software">https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_photog...</a></p>
<p>Cool, thanks.</p>
<p>This is very cool and would like to try i havent got a 3d printer but am sure i can get someone to print it for me <br>but would this work on car? <br>I like adding mods to my car and would be great to get a 3d printed version of it :) </p>
<p>In principle it will work on anything, but your car presents challenges. Some parts are shiny and the interior may be difficult to access. You will also need to calibrate your scans possibly including a reference object to help.</p>
its more of the outside of car I would like to scan and I see what you mean with the car being so shiny hmmmmm what do you mean by reference objects buddy? :)
<p>Photoscans are internally accurate but lack an absolute scale. Your car is captured in perfect proportion, but the scan can't record how big it is. You can calibrate this by measuring features on the car and scaling the model to match, or by putting a yard stick next to the car and capturing it in the same scan. The yardstick is usually easier to measure accurately than anything on the car which typically involves curves.</p>
<p>Hello this is a very interesting discussion. I never used a camera for scans, and I am ready to do, but for what have understood, there is a big difference between the &quot; external appearance&quot; of the scan and its mesh. Photogrammetry scans are smart but with low quality mesh as result: put hands on with an external graphic software is a hard stuff, unless you use one hundred high level cameras in a box. The result of the house taken by drone is visible, is very different from a Faro laser scanning.</p><p>I use Artec scanner, yes is expensive, but i can obtain a mesh like below: are sure to have with a camera? This is what must be told. Price has a reason, although I can be wrong.</p>
<p>You are right that a pretty scan doesn't mean an accurate mesh. See the last step of this indestructible for a nice graphic on that. .Artec scanners are great and in the right hands can produce very nice results. So can photogrammetry at a small fraction on the cost. Check out http://blog.lidarnews.com/a-comparison-of-laser-scanning-and-photogrammetry/ for a favorable comparison with LIDAR scanning.</p>
<p>Thank you Shakespeare, for me this is the year of understanding Photogrammetry and this is a good starting point, It's a great forum.</p><p>Yes the central point is what you must do with a scan. If you keep the scan as it is and do not need sending to Zbrush to modify, photos are perfect for a fraction of price ( nobody is happy to spend money for a good scanner..), because mesh is really flat. Also, if you need to scan flowers as frederic.devilloutreys shows ( fantastic ), photos are the only method, because any scanner on the market can catch a complete leave. For a &quot; post production &quot; of the scan, real scanners.</p>
<p>Absolutely brilliant work mate!</p>
<p>Very nice! Thanks!<br><br>Let's suppose you want to scan a small object with hollow areas, in a controlled environment, a l&agrave; lightbox. Is that actually a good idea? What kind of background would yield best results? A single, contrasting color? Or maybe a checkered pattern?</p>
<p>For something small you might want to use a turntable set up. I give details on a fancy automated one at http://www.instructables.com/id/Build-a-DIY-Desktop-3d-Scanner-With-Infinite-Resol/ . But any turntable will do, just make sure the background is pure white and well lit so the software doesn't pick up any background features.</p>
<p>Thanks again!</p>
<p>can I borrow someone's 3D printer so I can print myself a 3D printer ;) thanks</p>
<p>Join a makerspace, we have 3d printers, and cookies. :-)</p>
I haven't purchased a 3d-printer because I have tried to create models using software and I suck at it. If this works for me I'll be able to tell the 3d-printer manufacturer to &quot;Shut up and take my money!&quot;
<p>Buy a robo3d printer, print pre-made things from thingiverse until you are comfortable with the printer, then start playing with tinkercad. Take the leap, you wont be sorry!</p>
<p>I've seen a couple of pretty decent-looking tutorials for DIY 3D Printers on this site. Maybe you could just build your own! ... Tho, I have to admit, wouldn't want you to miss out on achieving such an awesome overall goal! You tell that 3D Printer Salesman!</p>
<p>Scanning is a good skill to have in your arsenal, but you will still probably need some modelling skills to fix up your scans.</p>
<p>yeah.</p><p>you don't have to make your own stuff. they probably have it.</p><p>if you do, then try tinkercad.com it is a super easy, basic cad software where you use basic shapes to create more complex designs</p><p>good luck! :)</p>
<p>you should go to thingiverse. you can find pretty much anything you want to print there.</p>
There is a spray called cyclododecan. Its being used in archeology and art to protect things. It covers the object with white color but disappears completely after a few days. Unfortunately there is problems with shipping ad it must not go in airplanes. But I believe you can also order the material as a block and mix it yourself. I have seen automotive service providers use it for benchmark scanning interiors of cars. <br>The other option is developer spray. Thats being used to detect cracks in metal. Makes a nice dull surface and doesnt add much material, just a few microns.
<p>That looks great for museum artifacts and that sort of thing where a grant is paying for it, but its way too expensive for me. Neat stuff, it sublimates.</p>
<p>Cool I'll have to check it out.</p>
<p>I have a Panasonic Digital Point &amp; Shoot with &quot;3D&quot; capability. Might this work?</p>

About This Instructable




Bio: I make custom copper signs, metalwork and prototypes. I am one of the hosts of the "3d Printing Today Podcast", available on iTunes.
More by shapespeare:Make 3d Printed Topo Maps of Anywhere Create a Voronoi Version of Anything Make Minecraft heart cookies with help from a 3d printer 
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