3D Scanning and Printing Statues Using TRNIO and Meshmixer!




About: Enthusiastic tinkerer with a passion for additive manufacturing and education!

Have you ever seen a statue and wanted to make a small copy for yourself? Using the low-cost iOS app TRNIO and free editing software, now you can!

This tutorial has been designed to help you learn how to use TRNIO to capture a scan and use Meshmixer to clean up and process the scanned model. You can then print your model using a 3D printer to see it in real life!

While other hardware/software exists for making more precise 3D scans, this process is great for quickly capturing an object out in the world with the tools you likely already have on you (a phone and a sense of adventure)!


Software Required:

Hardware Required:

  • Any iOS device capable of running TRNIO
  • Computer capable of running Meshmixer/Cura
  • 3D printer (OPTIONAL)

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Step 1: Scan Your Statue

This is probably the hardest step!

Find a statue or model that you can easily move around, and use TRNIO to capture pictures of it from all angles. TRNIO will guide you through the scanning process and will notify you when the pictures are ready to upload.

Step 2: Check Your Model and Export to Meshmixer

After scanning, check your model in TRNIO and confirm you captured the majority of the statue.

Things to look for that indicate a bad scan include:

  • Large holes indicating missing surfaces
  • Large differences in surfaces that should be smooth
  • Features that aren't captured correctly or missed entirely

If your scan captures less than 80% of the surface of the model, it's probably easier to try another scan than to clean up the model.

If there are some small holes and spots with overlapping geometry, don't panic! You can go back and fix those later in the process.

Once you have a scan that looks good, export it as an .OBJ file and open it up in Meshmixer.

Step 3: Prepare the Model for Editing

After importing the model into Meshmixer, you'll notice the color and texture of the model was imported along with the scan data. This is because TRNIO will capture both the geometry of a model as well as the color texture applied to it.

For our purposes, the texture only makes it more difficult to edit the model, so you'll need to remove it. Using the Shaders command, select the white sphere and drag it over to remove the texture from the model.

Step 4: Remove Any Background or Extra Material From Model

After making the model solid, you may have some geometry floating around the model leftover from the scanning process.

Select all of those floating islands using the Select tool, and then select Edit-Discard to remove them.

Step 5: Clean Up Any Geometry That Didn't Scan Properly

Sometimes, the scan will contain extra geometry or other errors that need to be cleaned up. Using the Select tool, you can select these areas and delete them using Edit-Discard.

Once deleted, use the Edit-Make Solid command to convert the model back into a watertight mesh.

Go through the model and find any areas that contain errors and remove them until the model appears solid and consistent.

Step 6: Smooth the Model

After remeshing and making the model solid, there may be areas of the geometry that look a little jagged.

Using the Sculpt-Flatten tool, go back and smooth any areas that look unnatural or need some extra attention.

Step 7: Add a Base

Using the Meshmix command, create a cube to use as a base. You can resize this object directly in the software, and rotate it using Edit-Transform to line it up with the model.

Once you have both models lined up and you're ready to combine them, use the Boolean-Union command to join them together.

Step 8: Print Your Model

Now for the fun part! You can print your model directly from the .STL file exported with Meshmixer on any printer with software capable of importing an .STL file (that's most of them)!

If you'd like your model to be printed in two colors using a standard FDM 3D printer, you can find the transition layer and set a pause using Cura to swap out filament, allowing for a single solid object using multiple colors.

Step 9: Share Your Model!

That's it! You now have a printed model of your scan.

How did the process work? Were you able to create a model? What part was easiest and what was the hardest?

Feel free to share your model with me over on Twitter, and let me know if there's anything you think I missed or want to cover in greater detail.

Thanks for reading, and have fun printing!

For more tutorials and 3D printing guides, check out my YouTube page.

If you want to print out the model from this tutorial, you can find it on Thingiverse.



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    10 Discussions


    Question 11 days ago

    What happened to the most interesting parts of the sculpture, the nose and the legs? They seem to have gone missing.

    1 answer
    Andrew Sinkalcurb

    Answer 10 days ago

    When I did the plane cut / boolean for the base, I went a little higher than I probably should have, which resulted in a good bit of geometry being clipped from the bottom of the model. You can see the nose/legs in Steps 4-7 before I gave them a snip!


    11 days ago

    Hi Andrew,

    Is there TRNIO alternative for android?


    1 reply
    Andrew Sinktonioram

    Reply 11 days ago

    Hi Tonio!

    I've played around with some Android alternatives, but nothing seems to work as well. I remember trying out many alternatives about a year ago when I switched to a non-iOS device, but nothing captured as much detail.

    Andrew Sink

    Boy Genius

    11 days ago

    While you're at it, photocopy somebody's novel so you don't have to buy a copy for yourself. Both activities rob artists of money because you aren't paying for their intellectual property. You think it doesn't matter? If you're a maker, it should matter to you more than most. Play fair. Don't rip off other makers.

    3 replies
    rossnzwpi2Boy Genius

    Reply 11 days ago

    I disagree with Boy Genius's point that making a small 3D model of a sculpture is copyright theft. In some circumstances it might be but I don't see it as any different to taking a photo of it for personal use. Making a 3D model for commercialisation would be unfair without the artists permission but taking a 3D photo for personal use is a form of tribute. Many art galleries and museums now encourage this, admittedly with works that were in the public domain.

    bryan3141Boy Genius

    Reply 11 days ago

    There are enough statues and other objects in the public domain, I see no reason to assume that everybody is a thief.

    razamatrazBoy Genius

    Reply 11 days ago

    I get where you're coming from but in this case it's pretty unlikely you could commission the artist to make you a miniature, and a 5 inch crappy PLA copy of a 10 foot statue for your own purposes is hardly IP theft. The original is probably a one off that they'll never make again. Also this technique can be used for things other than statues, like cars, animals (if you can get them to not move for 5 minutes) or whatever you can think of.

    Obviously if you started sellign these copies it would be different and blatantly wrong.

    I would download a car.