3D scanners are equipment that allows a person to create digital copies of various objects.

The principle of operation of a 3D scanner is based on creating a layer-by-layer print for a selected object using a variety of materials:

  • plastic compounds;
  • polymers;
  • powders based on cellulose, metal, ceramics;
  • resins.

The advent of 3D scanners has simplified human activities in various fields. Machines are manufactured for various tasks. Stationary instruments are an excellent choice for architectural, design, medical (including dental), educational and industrial companies. With the help of this device, parts for the car are created. Dental types of equipment are used to model teeth. There are many desktop models for jewelry workshops. There are positive stories of their use in restoration, as non-standard devices in surgery, orthodontics, geodetic cycles.

Types of 3D scanning

How do 3d scanners work? Three-dimensional scanning is divided into 2 types:

  1. Contact

Such scanners work by contacting the subject. The stationary device explores, in fact, the desired object “by touch”.


  • highly detailed;
  • the light conditions are not reflected on the device;
  • you can scan parts of an object made in the form of a prism;
  • small cost.

Disadvantages of a contact device:

  • the analysis process is very slow;
  • there is a limitation for scanning moving objects.

How to 3d scan an object? The device functions according to a certain principle: an object is examined using direct contact. This happens when an object is placed on a surface. Differs in work with high accuracy. There is a drawback – sometimes it changes the object, it can even damage it.

  1. Contactless

Such scanners, in turn, are divided into 2 types.

  1. Active. They work using a laser beam or structured light directed at an object. The beam, reflected, provides information about the location of the object on the coordinate axis.
  2. Passive. They are based on the use of time-of-flight devices – rangefinders that read the distance and time during which the laser beam reaches the object. They work until each point located in the room is passed. As a result, the object is accurately recreated in a three-dimensional image.

Varieties of 3D scanners

Several types of this equipment are produced. The machine is designed for diagnosing and developing 3D models, including laboratory assemblies.

Triangulation laser 3D scanners

The device is based on the principle of using a laser beam to probe an object. The machine sends a laser to the object under study, and the camera device fixes the point location. His work is called triangulation because the laser point, emitter and camera form a triangle.

Time-of-Flight 3D Devices

The technology of work uses a laser and a special rangefinder, which determines the distance to the object under study. The beam transit time is taken into account. The rangefinder plays the role of a light pulse (in one direction and the other). In just 1 second, such a device is capable of measuring 100,000 points.

Intraoral (intraoral) 3D scanners

Devices that, according to the instructions, are recommended for dentistry for modeling digital impressions of implants. They work according to the intraoral (intraoral) principle – by projecting light onto the scanned object, they receive a light signal (reflected), transmit it to a computer. The result is a three-dimensional image.

3D scanners in medicine

According to the principle of work in dentistry, laser and optical 3D scanners are used to examine teeth.


Such a device during operation measures the distance to the object of study, sets the actual length of the rays. The choice of the direction of the laser beam is controlled by encoders. Based on the analysis of the reflection of the rays, a point cloud is created in the form of a three-dimensional picture of the object under study. The key principle of operation of such devices is to digitize objects that have a complex shape.


The studied places are illuminated with directional light, at this time, the result is recorded from various camera angles. The area is illuminated by a light strip or pattern. The deformation of light conveys to the device information about the shape and depth of the object under study. The whole process is recorded and transferred to the computer program information about the structure of the object.

There are 2 types of such 3D scanners:

  • Desktop (placed on the table);
  • Manual (manual control of the device).

The main advantage of optical models is high speed. In addition, the instrument can display colors on a PC screen.

How to scan an object for 3d printing? Professional devices need to be calibrated. For some scanners, once is enough when they are released from the factory. Other instruments should preferably be calibrated before each scan. If the machine is calibrated, it will last longer and produce high quality images.


Modern 3D scanners solve many problems; they have become in demand in various industries. Currently, devices are used in cars. Jewelers use them to create jewelry. Smart models are even used for learning and hobbies. Such devices have a great future, as the production of devices expands.

Eun Author

Eun-Ji is a journalist by training and a 3D enthusiast by nature. She studied journalism in university and has been writing ever since, but it was only recently that she discovered her love for 3D modeling.

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