How to Make 3D Scanning Easier


3D scanning can be a great asset, but it can also be a pain. (Image Courtesy of Artec 3D.)

As anyone who’s ever used a 3D scanner knows, not only is digitizing a real object incredibly futuristic seeming, it can also be really difficult. Now, there a number of reasons why 3D scanning is tough. First off, if you’re scanning something that’s alive and can move, it’s nearly impossible to keep that thing completely still. If an object isn’t still, you’re not going to get a good scan, let alone several scans that can be composited—which brings me to my next point.

The second most glaring issue that makes 3D scanning difficult is that it can be really hard to stitch together multiple 3D scanned meshes in order to make a complete representation of a real-world object. Say, for instance, you’re scanning something massive like a jumbo jet’s wing. Because of its size, you’re going to have to split up the task into dozens if not hundreds of scan jobs. Once those scan jobs are complete, you’ll have to stitch all of those meshes together in software, and that process can be tedious at best and downright impossible at worst.

So, how can you make 3D scanning a bit easier to handle?

Well, you could always tranquilize your live subject, or you could just lean on a piece of software to automate post-processing. And that’s exactly what Artec 3D has done with its latest release of Studio 11.


Engage Autopilot

Artec Studio 11 has a number of upgrades that are sure to please its users; however, one new feature in this release stands above all of the rest, Autopilot.

According to Artec 3D, Autopilot mode automates the process of removing extraneous data by aligning multiple mesh bodies with a single mouse click and choosing which algorithms to use to composite a collection of meshes by simply asking a user a few questions.

“It’s virtually impossible to tell the difference between a 3D model created using Studio 11’s autopilot mode and one that was created manually by an expert user,” said Artyom Yukhin, president and CEO of Artec 3D. “With Artec’s advanced algorithms built into the system, users can create a professional-grade 3D model in a matter of minutes.”


Features for Advanced Users


A meshed transmission stitched together in Artec’s Studio 11.

While Autopilot is certainly the standout feature of the Studio 11 release, it isn’t the only thing that Artec has added to its 3D scanning suite. In Studio 11, users will have access to all of the manual tools for 3D mesh manipulation, alignment and cleanup that they’ve used in previous versions. So for experienced mesh heads who don’t want to use Autopilot (or didn’t get the results they wanted from the automation tool), there’s a workflow available.

In addition to Studio 11’s standard suite of tools, Artec has also provided avenues for direct integration with third-party CAD systems like Geomagic Design X and SOLIDWORKS. With a new direct export tool, models that are stitched in Studio 11 can be opened in either CAD package so that designers can begin working on models that directly reference the geometry snatched from the real world. To help facilitate this “scan to CAD” workflow, Studio 11 also supports the entire range of CAD-dedicated NVIDIA Quadro GPUs.

Finally, Studio 11 has also undergone a facelift. Now, users are greeted by a pared-down UI that’s easier to understand than much of the other software that’s staking a claim in the 3D-scanning, post-processing space. While that paired-down interface will likely be welcome by workstation users, it’s plain to see that what Studio 11 is attempting to do with its UI is present a face that’s compatible with tablets.

Although 3D scanning is still making its way into the metrology and design departments many companies, Artec 3D’s effort to make the 3D scanning process much easier could go a long way to speeding up adoption. Given the fact that the company also owns its own line of 3D scanners, it’s no wonder that Artec 3D has been quick to realize that the workflow baggage being schlepped around by 3D scanning had to be ditched someday. Well, not all of it may have been cast to the wayside, but with Studio 11, it’s becoming much easier to transform the real world into a digital mesh so that design can be elevated to work with reality.

About the Author


Kyle Maxey is a mechanical designer and writer from Austin, TX. He earned a degree in Film at Bard College and has since studied Mechanical and Architectural drafting at Austin Community College. As a designer Kyle has had vast experience with CAD software and rapid prototyping. One day he dreams of becoming a toy designer.

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