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Best Scanners For Reality Modeling For 2023

Brandon Forder
  Sep 25, 2023 4:58 PM

With the top 3D scanners, you can quickly and accurately capture a high-resolution 3D model of any physical object. This paves the way for creating a 3D digital model of the object for the purposes of investigation and observation. You could also use a 3D printer to make a tangible replica of your thing, or you could build a work of art out of it.

Lights or lasers are used to illuminate your topic in a 3D scanner. Take more accurate measurements without relying on software to "guess" where the 3D positions triangulate by manually setting the lighting and subject positioning.

This article will guide you in the direction of the most useful scanners for realism modeling currently on the market. Here are five of the best options available, accommodating a variety of price points and needs.

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Last update on 2023-09-25 / Affiliate links / Images, Product Titles, and Product Highlights from Amazon Product Advertising API

Buying Guide

Types of 3D Scanners

Varieties of 3D scanners are widely available. Read the following section before choosing a choice:

Handheld vs Stationary

Frequently, the technology used by handheld and fixed 3D scanners is identical, and their uses can overlap. Basically, the design is where the two diverge.

With a handheld scanner, the user is able to move freely around the object, capturing it from all directions.

It requires positioning a stationary scanner in front of an object that is often placed on a revolving plate in order to capture the object as it rotates across full 360 degrees. To get the best shots, the user may have to move the object around numerous times.

Today's innovations are smaller and more lightweight than ever before.

Laser Triangulation

For 3D scanning, laser trigonometric triangulation is the gold standard. It takes measurements from a multitude of locations throughout the object's surface in order to construct a precise polygon mesh. These are standard features on many commercial and industrial scanners, both handheld and large format. They have the ability to work at great distances and even track objects with lasers.

Structured-Light 3D Scanners

Structured light, sometimes called "white light," imposes a grid-like pattern over an object, much to laser triangulation. Using sensors, 3D scanner cameras, and triangulation, the system can evaluate the grid's underlying structure as it pertains to the object under study.

Long Range

Phase shift or pulse technology is used in longer range scanners, which can collect millions of points while spinning 360 degrees with the use of mirrors. Typically, this is used to scan buildings and automobiles.

Time-of-flight technology, which calculates the elapsed time it takes for a signal to go from an object and back to a sensor at a given speed of light, could also be employed.

When it comes to regular 3D scanning and printing, this is less of a concern.

3D Scanner Cost

The cost of a 3D laser scanner can range widely. The XYZprinting 3D Scanner 1.0 A, for example, is a home model that can be had for close to $300. If, however, you're after the best possible scan quality across the board and the flexibility to scan anything from micro to macro, keep reading. Or, if you're a business that regularly uses medical implants or automobile parts, a 3D part scanner might cost you anywhere from $3,000 to $35,000.

The greatest place to shop for a 3D scanner is online, where you'll also get the finest deals.


How quick is the scanning mechanism? Can you take your time, or is urgency of the utmost importance? Even though most 3D scanners only take a few minutes to finish, those that scan complicated items at high resolution often need half an hour or more.

Accuracy and Resolution

The accuracy of your 3D scan indicates how close your digital model will be to the original in millimeters. It follows that the more compact the better. For scanning purposes, resolution can mean either how precise the scan is or how high-resolution the cameras utilized are.

In most cases, a smaller millimeter value is preferable. Lighting, color, and depth are all other aspects that contribute to an image's final impression.

Object Size and Space

However, not all 3D scanners are created equal; some are better suited to scanning medium- to large-sized objects, while others excel when scanning smaller ones. Many others are capable of performing multiple roles. One must first determine the approximate size of the goods they intend to scan before making a purchase of a scanner.

To accommodate the scanner, you will also need some extra space. The items we've selected are all compact and easy to transport, although the stationary scanners still require a flat surface. There will also be a required minimum and maximum distance between the scanner and the object.

When scanning larger objects, you'll require more space to do so.


How does 3D scanning work?

When it comes to 3D scanning, there are two main methods. The first is to use a piece of software like to generate 3D triangulation points when you move a camera, smartphone, or drone around your topic. There is no need for expensive new tools, but the accuracy is compromised.

The second strategy includes the use of specialized 3D scanners, such the ones discussed in the preceding section of this article.

The primary task of a photo scanner is to capture color; nevertheless, the 3D shape can be obtained with no tone at all, depending on the technology. (Game developers might not care, but stores need precise colors so customers can spin products and see them from all angles.)

However, a digital scan will always have certain imperfections. For the same reason that a photo scanner's resolution is capped, the distance between each laser trace on the outside of the subject will also be capped. Finding software that can fill these holes and produce "closed models" is helpful, however it may result in a reduction of surface detail. Like photo editing, fixing the mesh will likely need some manual labor.

What Is a 3D Scanner?

Similar to traditional scanners, 3D laser scanning analyzes a physical object and sends that information to a computer, where it is used to produce 3D digital representations. It's possible that the 3D digitizer process is fully automated, but it's also possible that customers will need to utilize software to finish the model to their specifications. Whether for 3D printing, VR, or any other use, the goal is usually to get a precise model in the correct standard and format.

Despite widespread adoption of such scanners in the business world, a wide range of consumer-friendly solutions has recently emerged thanks to developments in 3D printing technology. They can be referred to as handheld scanners or portable 3D scanners if they are made to be used in this way. These make it simple to scan things of any size for use with 3D printing.

Some come ready to use, while others, such as 3D printers, require assembly. The price is reduced, and upgrades and alterations are simpler to do, for people who are adept with that sort of thing.

The three-dimensional dimensions of an object are measured by enclosing it in a field of laser triangulation or some other form of structured light. The color and surface texture of the object are also captured by the lenses of a high-quality 3D scanner camera. The model can be resized or altered in other ways with the use of the provided or other applications.

Now more than ever, 3D scanning is a breeze.

How do I choose a 3D scanner?

It can be difficult to figure out what 3D laser scanner to buy, but our reviews and buying tips can help you make an informed decision.

If possible, choose a scanner with the highest possible accuracy and resolution within your price range. Keep in mind the benefits of portable scanners over fixed ones. Choose one that is suitable for the size of the objects you intend to scan


Our 3D scanner evaluations include a wide range of options, from consumer models to larger, more industrial models, so there's something for everyone. Create 3D models or perform reverse engineering with ease using a variety of tools, from portable devices to structural lightboxes with turntables. Maybe you'll even take a few 3D self-portraits!

If you have any remaining questions regarding 3D printing after reading our reviews and guides, feel free to peruse our FAQ.

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