3D Scanners

30 3D Models via 30 3D Scanning Technologies, Thanks to Sketchfab

As I’ve seen SketchFab grow over my time writing for 3DPI, it’s become more and more clear how such a platform is a vital part of emerging 3D technology. In between constantly evolving 3D printing and 3D scanning lays the interface for displaying and sharing 3D scans and 3D printable models.  SketchFab seems to be aware of its position in the industry, seeing itself as the bridge between the virtual world of 3D modeling and the physical world of 3D printing. That’s why they’ve recently created a folder for scans taken by 30 different devices and pieces of software! I know that when I heard about it, I got pretty excited – hence the exclamation point. You can see all 30 scans at their site, but they’ve also published an extensive SlideShare (embedded below) dedicated to the scans as well.

Though the SlideShare doesn’t go into linguistic detail about the scanners, aside from the price of and the technology behind each device/software, the 3D models may be enough to help you sort through all of the scanners out there to purchase the one you like. Browsing through the models, there are some pieces of hardware and software that obviously shine and others that lack some of that 3D scanning luster.  Agisoft‘s photogrammatry software created an incredibly impressive model of the Naval Cathedral in Kronshtadt, using the Geoscan-401 quadcopter, but not everyone has access to a quadcopter capable of taking 750 images of Russian architecture.

Naval Cathedral in Kronshtadt
by agisoft
on Sketchfab

Instead, they’re more likely to use the Trnio iPhone app, which created a very vibrant model of a restored sculpture.  And, compared to a model of Saint Peter made with the Autodesk 123D Catch app, I prefer Trnio.

Scan of restored sculpture by Kasimir Szekeres
by trnio
on Sketchfab

I don’t have all of the experience I’d like with 3D scanners, having only personally reviewed the Structure Sensor and Sense Scanner. I’m still impressed with the Structure Sensor as used with the itSeez app, which was used to capture the detailed scan of Sketchfab CEO, Alban Denoyel, below.

I asked the CEO of Sketchfab, Alban Denoyel, about the project to organize models created by a number of 3D scanners and programs, including how the company plans to expand this portfolio.  Alban explained, “We’d like to expand this database and include reviews and specs. Down the line I’d also love to have a map of the world locating 3D scan owners.”  As important as it is to know the future of these reviews, I’m more interested in the why of things, so I asked Alban what motivated Sketchfab to begin this collection, to which he provided the following thoughtful response:

I am fascinated my 3D scanning. The goal of art is to imitate nature (Aristote), and if you look at how we’ve captured nature and the world until now, it has moved closer and closer to what it actually is. We started with drawing, then painting, then photography, then video. The world is in 3D, and 3D scanning will be the standard way to capture the world in the future, the next big media.

Some 3D designers are worried that 3D scanning may kill 3D jobs. I see it more like photo compared to painting. Photo didn’t killed painting. You can also compare it to what photoshop is to photography: just a way to make your job easier and faster.

I also wondered how the CEO thought that his model sharing site fit into the larger ecosystem.  Alban replied, “As 3D printing is booming, the need for 3D content is growing as well, which is obviously driving the 3D scanning trend. The ecosystem is moving super fast, and for me the next big thing in scanning (besides faster capture and better resolution) will be dynamic 3D capture – be able to capture a moving scene in 3D, a 3D video if you will. This is already coming.”

As the company begins building up its scan portfolio, to provide the world with information on all of the technology out there for creating 3D models, they’ve begun spreading the word about 3D scanning: “We are… evangelizing in order to show people it’s actually pretty easy to make a 3D scan! I started not long ago, and now make almost a daily scan, just using my phone and smart software. We started 3D scanning Thursday to have more people discover and enter the scene, it’s a lot of fun! Check the food one for example.”

The 3D Scanning Thursday (3DST) contest sounds like my cup of tea! Every week, Sketchfab picks a new topic and the best 3D scan wins $25 in printing credit from Shapeways. When I get my Kinect scanning booth up, I hope to participate myself. If you’re in the New York area, you might consider meeting up with Sketchfab in New York on October 23rd to get a scan of yourself taken with the Structure scanner.  Or, if you’re in Amsterdam for the Blender Conference, you’ll have an opportunity to do so, too.  Alban tells me that they’ve already taken scans of almost 500 people with the Structure sensor and they look pretty good!

Oh! And, if you’re the 3D modeling type, check out Shapeways for their Halloween contest, hosted in partnership with CG Cookie and Sketchfab.  The best 3D printable Jack-O-Latern wins $100 in 3D printing credit with Shapeways!