The pitfalls and potential of inexpensive 3D scanning solutions

The odd documentary, feature article, or typical marketing hype may make you think that today’s 3D scanning can perfectly capture the real world, but that’s only true with expensive, professional equipment (not to mention considerable editing and post-processing). Generally, current consumer versions of 3D scanners produce decidedly modest results.

Still, personal 3D scanning has made great strides in recent years. And though it continues to take a backseat (in market- and mind-share) to 3D printing, 3D scanning has grown into a technological revolution worth exploring all on its own. So let’s look closer at two of the main personal 3D scanning categories available: software- or hardware-based solutions that work with equipment you may already have and hardware-based solutions that are mostly self-contained. As a bonus, we’ll also look at services where you can view and store 3D models, as well as ways to turn your 3D models back into physical objects.

While it’s impossible to provide an exhaustive look at the ever-growing number of 3D scanning products, this selection of solutions should provide a solid overview of what’s currently possible and where this technology might be headed next.

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Technology Lab – Ars Technica