Apr. 9, 2015 | By Alec

One of the biggest problems with the 3D printing hobby is that it takes a lot of preparation and knowledge. Everyone who’s ever dabbled with this technology will know that a thorough knowledge of modelling software is quite necessary for 3D printing success. To be sure, our lives are made much easier by the web’s gigantic database of files, but that isn’t really what creating should be all about. Our lives could be made much more comfortable 3D scanner capable of generating 3D models, but these aren’t exactly affordably for the average hobbyist. Fortunately, engineering-crazed Danish teacher Hesam Hamidi has come up with a design for an easy to build 3D scanner that is a perfect addition to any 3D printing hobbyists’ arsenal.

As Hesam explains to 3ders.org, his 3D scanner can be easily assembled using conventional items, such as a video projector and webcam – items filling garages, classrooms and workshops everyhere. ‘[These can be used to build] a structured-light 3D scanner, which is a 3D scanning device for measuring the three-dimensional shape of an object using projected light patterns and a camera system,’ Hesam tells us.

This project is called HHSL3DS and Hesam has been working on at the Copenhagen Fablab in Denmark for some time now. Feeling that the time is right to share it with the world, he has graciously shared all of his designs and even the software and code he has written for it online. You can find the full tutorial, as well as all the downloadable files, on Instructables here.

And this is how this scanner works once built. Using just two webcams (Hesam used Logitech C920C), a projector (Infocus LP330) and a camera setup, this 3D scanner projects narrow bands of light horizontally and vertically on whatever object you’re trying to scan. As Hesam explains, a projector was remarkably useful for such a build. ‘We chose it because of exibility of this device(which allows to experiment any type of light pattern) and its wide availability. The sensor can be either a custom device, a standard digital still camera or a webcam. it must support high quality color capture (i.e. acquisition of high dynamic range) and possibly with high resolution,’ he explains.

As the projected bands made by this setup are distorted from other perspectives, these distortions are measured and used to build a geometric reconstruction of the exact shape. With the distortions captures by the two webcams, this setup ensures accurate, low-cost and quick scanning possibilities. It’s a perfect option for makers who prefer to rely on their hands, rather than on their wallets.

And thanks to Hesam’s instructions, it’s also remarkably easy to build. Simply copy the setup of Hesam’s scanner above. ‘The two cameras and projector should be connected to a computer with two video outputs, like a notebook computer and the projector screen should be configured as an extension to main windows desktop,’ Hesam explains. The projector requires a whole list of specific settings for this to work, which you can find listed on Instructables as well. Really any time of webcams can be used, though software-controllable ones are best. These will enable you to manually adjust focus, brightness, resolution and image quality.

What’s more, Hesam has already written all the software necessary to use this scanner in Python language. ‘This was used for programming for three reasons, one it is easy to learn and implement, two we can use OPENCV for image related routines and three it is portable among different operating system so you can use this program in windows, MAC and Linux,’ he explains. ‘You can also configure the software to use with any kind of camera (webcams, SLRs or industrial cameras) or projector with native 1024X768 resolution. It is better to use cameras with more than two times resolution.’

The results of a scan.

Using this 3D scanner for 3D printing purposes is also remarkably easy. Using the provided software, any object fitting in the frame can simply be scanned following the five-step route Hesam provides alongside his software. Hesam’s tests found that the scanner is capable of producing relatively high-quality PLY point cloud files, which can be opened and edited using Meshlab or other typical 3D editing programs such as Autodesk products. Afterwards, it’s a simple matter of going through the usual steps to make a 3D printable file of the scan. While a bit of work, it’s a fun and inexpensive way to get your hands on a very useful 3D scanner. 



Posted in 3D Scanning


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ayman wrote at 5/3/2016 1:38:02 PM:

Plz what is the software u use for this project and where could i download it X_code2004@yahoo.com Eng. Ayman salama

Jon S BHattacharya wrote at 5/1/2016 4:26:36 PM:

Dr Hesham, We are from USA strongly dedicated towards developing advanced technology in the Intel community. Since I am quite new to Python, therefore we will sincerely appreciate if could provide an SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) to install the program on my machine(CPU) so that we can run it successfully that builds a point cloud of any target at our disposal. This is an effort to build a 3D-scanner using structured light.

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