The rapid development of 3D scanning technologies has led to an increase in the number of possible applications in various business areas and industries. 3D scanning has made workflows more flexible and efficient in terms of time and money. It is not surprising, therefore, that more and more companies are actively implementing this technology. However, with the huge number of solutions available on the market today, the process of choosing the right 3D scanner can become difficult. In our article, we have considered the main questions that will inevitably arise from the buyer and will help to make the best choice depending on your individual tasks.

Applications of 3D scanners

Before proceeding to the consideration of the main characteristics that you should pay attention to before purchasing a three-dimensional scanner, we will answer the question – what tasks can be solved using these devices?

3D scanners are used primarily for reverse engineering or reverse engineering, to perform inspection and measurement functions, as well as to digitize existing models for their subsequent printing on a 3D printer. Here is a short 3d scanner buying guide.

As part of reverse engineering (obtaining information about the finished product, in particular, the principle of its operation), a 3d scanner can solve the following tasks:

  • Optimization and modernization of existing products
  • Restoration of damaged products
  • Improving finished parts by adding new elements to their design

Digitization involves the rapid acquisition of a three-dimensional model of an existing product. This can be useful, for example, when the CAD file or drawing of the desired part has been lost. The 3d model obtained as a result of scanning can be subsequently sent for printing on a 3D printer.

The control and measuring functions of the 3D scanner provide control of the geometry of products by comparing the finished part and its three-dimensional CAD model or drawing. In other words, the 3D scanner in this case acts as a quality control tool and helps to quickly identify the cause of the defect. At the same time, scanning is a more efficient solution compared to traditional measurement methods (using hand tools), as it provides higher accuracy and speed.

Having outlined the main areas of application of 3d scanners, we can move on to considering the questions that need to be answered before purchasing such a device.

What types of objects do you plan to scan?

This question is the most important when choosing a 3d scanner. Some scanner models are great for digitizing the human body, but show mediocre results when working with static objects with small geometry elements. Other devices are capable of digitizing products ranging in size from one centimeter to several meters with high accuracy and quality of study, but are poorly suited for three-dimensional scanning of a person.

In addition, the type of product whose 3D model is to be obtained may limit the choice of a specific 3D scanning technology. For example, large architectural objects can be efficiently captured by laser scanners. At the same time, devices using structured light technology are not suitable for solving this type of problem.

What size objects do you need to digitize?

Most 3D scanners are designed to digitize parts of a certain size, as they have a fixed field of view. Usually, manufacturers offer different models for working with small items (for example, jewelry) and large items (for example, cars).

To work with large or very large objects, such as trucks, train cars or even aircraft, the best solution is to use a handheld 3D scanner.

3d scanner buyers guide tells, that to digitize smaller objects, such as furniture, motorcycles or statues, a stationary 3D scanner is suitable, allowing the operator to move around the object and capture its hard-to-reach places.

The task of 3D scanning of complex industrial products, which requires precise observance of dimensions and geometry, can be handled by a hand-held high-precision 3D scanner.

If you plan to scan products of the same size, the best option would be to choose a 3D scanner with a single scanning area. If you need to digitize objects of different sizes, from several centimeters to several meters, it is better to choose a device with several scanning zones and support for scanning by markers. Such scanners will allow you to work with both small and highly detailed objects, and large models thanks to the automatic registration of scans by markers.

What scanning accuracy do you need?

Scanning accuracy is one of the most important characteristics of a 3D scanner. This parameter refers to the deviation of each point of the resulting 3D model from the geometry of the physical object. The unit of measurement is millimeters or microns (1 micron = 0.001 mm).

  • High-precision 3d-scanners (5 – 30 microns).
  • 3d scanners with an accuracy of 30 – 100 microns.
  • 3D scanners with an accuracy of less than 100 microns.


Resolution is the distance between two adjacent points in a 3d model. Resolution affects the detail and file size – the denser the points are, the more elements of the surface of the object the 3D model contains. At the same time, scanning accuracy and resolution are not interdependent parameters. For example, a high-precision 3D scanner can only capture 10 points, while a less accurate device can capture millions of points.

Thus, high resolution is needed when the detail of the scanned object is of fundamental importance, for example, when working with small sculptures or jewelry.

Scan speed

Speaking about the speed of 3D scanning, we mean the time required for the scanner to process an object. Depending on the scanning technology, there are different ways to measure speed. For example, the speed of structured light scanners is calculated from the number of frames and points captured in one second. Professional equipment is capable of capturing 16 frames and 2 million points in one second.

High scanning speed is especially necessary when working with large objects, as well as moving objects that are not able to maintain the same position for a long time.

Software features

It is important to remember that software plays an important role in the operation of a 3d scanner. Companies offering professional 3d solutions are trying to develop optimal software in order to expand the capabilities of scanners.

A productive 3D scanner capable of working with objects of different sizes needs equally powerful software that would allow it to accurately process a large amount of incoming data.

Estimate total cost of ownership

Features and options included in the price. 3D scanners that are similar in price and specifications may have different package contents and differ in the set of functions available by default. Please note that you will receive everything you need in the order, such as an automatic turntable, a texture capture module, a carrying case for the device, etc.

The cost of the software license and its updates. Estimate the cost of software, updates, and additional licenses. Some manufacturers, even if the buyer purchases unlimited software, may charge an additional fee for software updates. A more expensive scanner, but with unlimited software and free updates, can be a better value.

Helen 3d editor

Helen’s passion is 3D Technology. She always loved hi-tech but 3D Reality was something that she never thought of before. She attended the first course on 3D printing technology and she was immediately fascinated by it.

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