Jan 2, 2015 | By Kira

Scanning physical objects to create real-life, 3D models is becoming more and more commonplace, especially in the fields of medicine, CGI and graphic design. However, even for experienced users with good equipment, it can be a challenge to accurately reproduce objects with complicated textures, occlusions and fine details.

To solve this problem, a group of international researchers and engineers have combined Artec Scanning Software and the Artec Spider, a handheld 3D scanner designed specifically for CAD users, to create a new, high-fedelity 3D scanning technique.

In this novel approach, the Artec 3D scanner is attached to the right arm of a PR2 mobile robot. A resin table is then affixed to its left arm for holding and turning the object.

Image of the PR2 scanning robot.

The process beings with a blind, all-around scanning of the object to obtain an initial point cloud that roughly covers large portions of the object's surface. The quality-driven, poisson-guided equation then generates a set of 'next best views,' which are captured and scanned by the automated scanner. In addition, a confidence map is generated, accurately detecting low-quality areas where additional scans need to be applied. Positioning the scanner at the specific NBVs and assessing potential low-quality areas with the algorithm progressively captures the surface of the scanned object, avoiding loss of detail.

"Unlike previous scan planning methods, we do not aim to minimize the number of scans needed to cover the object, but rather to ensure the high quality scanning of the object, that is consistent over its surface," said the researchers.

The final reconstruction is completely faithful to the original object.

The scanning process was programmed using Artec's Scanning SDK. The entire process is iterated automatically and stops only once the specified reconstruction requirement has been reached.

The team chose the Artec Spider due to its incredibly high accuracy—it produces images with high resolutions of up to 0.1 mm, and accuracy up to 0.05 mm, capturing 7.5 frames per second and processing 1,000,000 points per second. It is faster than a laser scanner, and requires no complicated post-processing. At €15, 700, the Spider doesn't come cheap, however for those needing unprecedented levels of detailing, it's worth the investment. The Luxembourg-based company, seen as the leading experts in the sphere of capturing and processing 3D surfaces, also offers software licenses for roughly €500 more.

In order to prove the superiority of their new scanning method, the researchers compared it to two other state-of-the-art NBV-based algorithms, one focused on visibility and the other one on boundaries. The Spider and SDK technique outperformed both the quality and surface reconstruction of the previous methods.

They also compared their algorithm to curvature and density-based approaches, and went even further to compare 3D models that had been manually scanned, versus scanned by the PR2 system. In all cases, the Artec Spider/SDK combination method resulted in a better reconstruction with fewer scans.

Image via artec3d.com

Finally, the researchers experimented with using their algorithm on a one-armed industry robot instead of the PR2, which allowed them to automatically scan a delicate elephant model at high quality and high fidelity. They also noted that both geometry and colour can be captured with their automated scanners, rendering their 3D models even more detailed and photorealistic.

The group of international researchers include engineers from the Visual Computing Research Center, Tel-Aviv University, the Memorial University of Newfoundland, the University of Konstaz and Shandong University.

This global team has clearly devised one of the most advanced and precise methods for 3D scanning that exists today. Now it's up to designers, engineers, and inventors from all industries to put the technology to use and create 3D models like never before.

Posted in 3D Scanning


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