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3d3 Flexscan Scans 3d Images on the Cheap

by Paul Strauss
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Looking for an inexpensive way to turn real world objects into usable 3D digital models? This relatively low-cost solution takes an unusual approach to digitizing models into your computer.

3D3 Flexscan 3D Scanner

3D3 Solutions’ FlexScan3D lets you use an ordinary LCD projector and digital camera to help produce wireframes that can be imported into 3D computer graphics programs for use in art, animation, or rapid prototyping. Scans take just seconds, and can measure complex surfaces with an accuracy of +/- .01 inches and over 1 million points per scan.

3D3 Flexscan 3D Scanner

Since the scanning technique projects a grid onto the target object and captures from the front, you can’t produce output that wraps around 360-degrees without stitching together multiple meshes. Good thing that 3D3 also makes a program called Leios Mesh, which helps you do this. As an added bonus for using digital cameras to capture the wireframe, you also can extract matching texture masks automagically.

The basic solution starts at $1499, but by the time you add on a projector and digital camera (if you don’t have these floating around somewhere already), the total cost of the system would be closer to $2500. Plan on spending close to $3000 if you want the version with Leios Mesh and other stitching automation tools.

Still it’s the least expensive way I can think of to capture large or unwieldy objects, since other low cost systems like the NextEngine ($2495) can only capture items about the size of a shoebox. Of course, if you’re really, really cheap, and don’t mind spending alot of time cleaning up your 3D objects, check out David 3D, which costs the low, low price of free.

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