Kickstarter: Volumental’s Free Cloud Scanning Service Adds Printing

Volumental has been around since 2012, when it first got people excited about its free, cloud-based scanning app.  Now, the Swedish computer engineers behind the scanning app are going the full mile and trying to make it possible to print those scans with a 3D printer.  But, they need your help to make it happen, so they’ve started a Kickstarter campaign.

Volumental’s online scanning app is sort of like Autodesk’s 123D Catch app, where you can capture a series of pictures or a video with your smartphone or tablet and let the Autodesk servers process it for you, except Volumental’s app is easier to use. The only thing is that it necessitates a depth camera, like a Kinect. To use Volumental’s app, you plug your depth camera into your computer and click “Scan”.  Then, you move slowly around an object, capturing it from all angles.  After you’re done, it’s processed in the cloud and ready to be open a half hour later. Because your object is recorded with a depth camera, there’s less post-production to hassle with, making it less tedious than 123D Catch.

Volumental Free Cloud Scanning Application

The Kickstarter will push their app farther. Not only will you be able to scan, you’ll also be able to print your scanned object. Most of the $20,000 goal will go towards back end development, as Volumental’s Ernest Ang told me, “The backend developer that Volumental is hiring with the funding on Kickstarter would help to create and design different algorithms so that users will have a water-tight model that is suitable for 3D printing. Just like how we are providing a simple-to-use cloud-based scanner, we aim to minimise the amount of post-scanning work in our new scan-to-print app so that people who do not have any technical background in 3D printing would be able to use it simply.” For their Kickstarter video: watch below:

As a Mac user, I’ve found a detriment of programs that allow you to easily scan in 3D with the Kinect and have seen that there’s been a lot more development in that area with PCs. There are a few open source tools, but they aren’t very developed yet.  I find myself taking four depth snapshots with an open source tool, then cleaning them up and putting them together in post with Meshlab. If Volumental can perfect their scanning and printing service, it’s possible that I’ll save myself a lot of time and effort to create a simple scan.

Based on a look at the rewards, however, I think that, while scanning with Volumental may be free, downloading printable file may cost a tiny bit. By donating $10, you get one print and, by donating $100, you get 100. A dollar to ten dollars a print might be worth it for a water-tight model. The $2,500 reward is pretty sweet though, as it gets you to Stockholm, where you can get hang out with the team.