3D scanning is not new technology, but 3D scanners are not exactly the most affordable pieces of equipment to aid in your 3D printing ventures. In the last year, I’ve seen quite a few coming to market with promising results. iMakr has a good range of 3D scanners for sale at prices ranging between $600 and $3,000. And Jason Smith, a young chap who grew up on a cattle ranch in Montana, is hoping to bring the technology to the masses with its CowTech Ciclop.
CowTech Ciclop – $99 Open Source 3D Scanner
The scanner, which will only cost you $99, is an open source, 3D printable 3D scanner with a large scan volume, elegant design, and a price point that rivals all other devices on the market. “We based it off the open source BQ Ciclop and used hardware and electronics that would provide the same scan quality [as more expensive scanners] at a fraction of the price,” says Co-founder of CowTech, Jason Smith.
You can print the plastic parts on your own printer in any color and resolution you choose and it can be assembled in less than 30 minutes. Then, simply take any object you want to replicate, set it on the 200mm laser cut acrylic turntable, and start scanning. “We wanted to make sure our product was usable for anyone who owns a 3D printer, so we meticulously designed our parts for a print bed volume of only 115mm x 110mm x 65mm [4 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 inches], so they can be produced on even the smallest of printers,” says Smith.
Using a pair of line lasers that flash in succession, combined with a camera and a rotating turntable, the machine scans the object as the turntable makes a full 360-degree rotation. As the lasers flash on the object, they trace the outline and the camera picks up the location of the laser lines at each stage of the rotation, converting those lines into a cloud of points which can then be stitched together to form a mesh that replicates the surface of the object with up to 0.5mm precision.
Smith is a serial Kickstarter. The recent Harvard Engineer graduate successfully raised $25K in March 2015 from 200 backers for his Rayger product. His current Kickstarter campaign for the $99 3D scanner has started with a bang, with over 270 backers as of today. With over $32K already pledged and 34 days to go, Smith’s second campaign is doing well. He plans to ship the 3D scanner kits throughout April 2016. This promise of a high-quality, open source 3D laser scanner at such a low price could tempt many a 3D printing enthusiast into the 3D scanning arena.
There is no doubt that 3D printing and 3D scanning go hand in hand and, now, you are able to have both at very affordable prices. Bringing the scanner to the every day person, CowTech has opened up new doors in the domestic 3D printing and scanning worlds.