Best apps for 3d scanning

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3D scanning software for smartphones

If your smartphone doesn’t come with a pre-installed 3D scanning application already, then you should download one. The 3D scanning apps we list below are based on photogrammetric method. Photogrammetry is a 3D scanning technology that creates 3D models out of 2D photos. It works by taking overlapping pictures of the object you are 3D scanning from different angles. Then, the software generates your 3D model by combining all these images together. Since high definition cameras are already installed on the smartphones, more and more 3D scanning software using this technology are arising.

3D scanning software #1: Trnio

One of the best 3D scanning applications for mobile phones on the market is Trnio.

This 3D scanning app is available only for iPhones and it offers two scanning modes: the object mode and the scene mode. For both modes you get instant guidance from the app. For the object mode, the user walks around an object and the app captures while the user moves in a circular pattern around the object.  The scene mode is used for free formed scanning, meaning you can use it for 3D scanning outdoors scenes or large items. The greatness of this app is that it can be used as a social network too. You can create a profile with this 3D scanning app, create a collection of your 3D scans and people can follow your account as well as you can follow theirs.

3D scanning software #2: Scann3d

If you are looking for 3D scanning applications for Android smartphones, scann3d may suit you. The key success for this software is the design of its interface. Even if you are a beginner, it is very easy to use it, as you get instant reconstruction with the 3D model. It works by taking 20 to 30 overlapping photos around the object you are 3D scanning, and then the rendering is performed on the device automatically. The result of the 3D scan is ready in a couple of minutes according to the number of the input pictures. Later on, you can create a 3D model that can be shared on your Sketchfab account, without any post-processing!

3D scanning software #3: itSeez3D

The itSeez3D 3D scanner app allows users to capture in 3D using their iPhone, connected to an Occipital Structure Sensor. This 3D scanner app offers great quality 3D scans by processing the photos on its cloud platform. It is able to capture people in 3D, procedure which takes between 5 and 10 minutes. However, the resolution is a bit inferior compared to resolution obtained while scanning smaller objects. The software is free to use, which means that it offers unlimited 3D scanning. Though, the exports of the generated 3D scans – that are available in common formats such as .OBJ, .PLY, and .WRL. – cost $7 each.

3D scanning software #4: Qlone

Qlone is a 3D scanning mobile app developed with features near real-time 3D scanning and generates results locally, not through a cloud platform. In order for Qlone to be used, users need to print a black and white mat (similar to QR code). They then need to place the object they wish to 3D scan on top of the printed map. Users can print several maps depending on the object’s size. The key feature of Qlone is its merging capabilities. The 3D scanning app is able to merge two different poses of the same 3D scanned item for a better overall result. Users can also share their 3D captures with friends on social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, and other apps. Qlone is a free application, but the exports of the generated 3D scans – that are available in common formats such as .OBJ, .STL, .PLY and .X3D – cost $0.99  each.

3D scanning software #5: Bevel

Bevel is a 3D scanner app for smartphones that is compatible with both iOS and Android devices. Bevel requires a small extension to operate. It is very simple though. You just have to plug and connect it to the smartphone through the headphone jack. This 3D scanner app uses an eye-safe laser to capture scale and geometric detail, while the smartphone’s camera captures color, texture and other details. Unfortunately, this smartphone 3D scanner is currently not able to generate 360° 3D scans. As a counterweight to this, it is a very fast app, as it only takes a few seconds to capture an object in 3D. Even if the device is priced at $89, the 3D scanning app is free to download and use.

What is a 3D scanner app?

A 3D scanner app or 3D scanning app can turn almost any smartphone into a pocket-sized 3D scanner. Most of these apps are based on photogrammetry, a 3D scanning technology that creates 3D models out of 2D photos. You take pictures of an object from different angles and then the app’s algorithms “stitch” the images together.

With a 3D scanning app, you can 3D scan objects and rooms, and even people (3D body scanning). You can use a 3D scanner app to create 3D objects for augmented reality. It’s also possible to create 3D models for 3D printing.

How do 3D scanning apps work?

Photogrammetry 3D scanning technology

By definition, photogrammetry is “the science of making measurements from photographs”. Put simply, you take photos of a 3D object, and then the software stitches the pictures together. With this technology, the final 3D scan features color and texture.

3D scanning using a smartphone (iOS or Android)

You need to take several pictures of the object from different angles (usually 360° around the object) with your phone. 3D scanning apps generally provide you with tips and guidance to help you properly take the pictures.

The app then processes these pictures and aligns them together to form a 3D model. The 3D model is then available for export or editing using additional 3D software. In some cases, users may also print their 3D models with a 3D printer.

Tips for 3D scanning objects with a smartphone

Make sure you use the proper light when you scan an object, either it is indoors or outdoors. It is recommended that you use bright light that spreads equally around your object, especially when you 3D scan during the night. For objects of complex geometry or objects that are hollowed or have edges, also mind the light not to create shadows as they will not be properly read by the 3D scanning software. Also, try to keep an equal distance when you scan around the object, so as to get a uniform result. Moreover, beware that your models fits the screen, so adjust your position and not scan neither from too far nor from too close.

We recommend you to avoid 3D scanning moving or thin objects, such as tree-leaves for example. Also, try to avoid plain objects, as they lack of geometry complexion and they cause reflexions that cannot be captured properly during the 3D scanning procedure. In addition, when you 3D scan an object, beware of differentiating it from its background, so that the 3D scanning depth sensors capture the volume of the item. For this reason, since transparent objects cannot be differentiated from their background, they cannot be properly represented on a 3D scan.

Making a 3D scan with a smartphone

Making a 3D scan with a smartphone

Tips for 3D scanning people with smartphone

The procedure of 3D scanning faces of people is quite simple. To have a uniform 3D scanning result, scan the face from ear to ear by walking around the person. Make sure you capture different angles of the face, so that you don’t miss any edges of the face. It is important though that you keep an equal distance from the person as you walk around him. Since stringy objects are quite difficult to be captured, don’t be disappointed if the hair of the person you are 3D scanning are not represented in the best way. To get the best result, we advise you to place the person you are scanning in a background that is of only one color and bright enough, so that the depth sensors of the camera differentiate the head from its background. Last but not least, the person being 3D scanned should stand still and not move, as well as keep the same face expression during the 3D scanning procedure.

3D scanning people with smartphone

3D scanning people with smartphone

Top 3D Scanner Apps for Android and iOS

Obtaining a 3D file for printing can be done in many ways: free or paid download from a dedicated platform, modeling from an adapted CAD software or 3D scanning via a 3D scanner. Today there are a multitude of solutions to scan your part, from portable devices to larger devices to capture large objects. However, the purchase of such a device can be quite costly and using it might be complicated if you don’t have certain technical knowledge. This is why some industry players have developed mobile scanning solutions that are directly available on the smartphones. 3D scanner apps have been designed to be practical, easily accessible and always at hand: our phones are more present than ever in our daily lives. But how do different 3D scanner apps work? Which solution to choose? We have prepared the list of some of the best available 3D scanner apps for iOS and Android, ranked in alphabetical order.

Canvas

Canvas was developed by a US company called Occipital, which has made a name for itself with its hardware and software for 3D scanning. It enables scans to be made with all Apple devices that have the LiDAR scanner (for example the iPad Pro). Devices that do not have the LiDAR scanner must be equipped with Canvas’ Structure Sensor, costing around $400. The app is great for makers and DIY enthusiasts, as well as for professional applications including interior design and architects. Canvas is very user friendly, with an intuitive interface and straightforward scanning process. The app is able to build a 3D model of a room in real time, the user need only walk around the room with their iPad. Canvas offers a scan to CAD service that enables users to convert their 3D scans into CAD files for just $29 each. The app also allows users to share their scans by email.

3D scanner app

Capture 3D scanner app

Capture is a free 3D scanner app, which is compatible with iOS devices equipped with a TrueDepth camera. The scanner app is suitable for creating and sharing 3D scans without any accessories. The app uses the smartphone’s camera and sensors in order to create a structure consisting of points that are connected to each other, which map the depth of the object scanned. Capture then creates a complete 3D model based on this structure. You can view the scans in a preview mode. In addition, the Capture scanner app allows you to save your scans to its platform, free of charge and in multiple file formats. When using this scanner app, please note that you can only scan with the front camera.

3D scanner app

Heges 3D scanner app

Heges is a 3D scanner app available only for iOS devices (iPhones and iPads). It allows scanning people and all kinds of objects – from small and complex parts to a whole car. Once the process is complete, the models can be exported as PLY (with color) or STL files for later 3D printing. If you want to share the file, you can also do so via a built-in Wi-Fi server, the iOS file app, or via iTunes. The FAQ section of the Heges website also has recommendations for quality scans and tips for preparing your models for additive manufacturing. One big advantage of the Heges 3D scanner app is that privacy is a big deal. The app provider promises that no data will leave your device unless you choose to share it.

itSeez3D

The itSeez3D 3D scanning app allows you to easily capture and share models. To download the app, you need a compatible device and a Windows + RealSense or iOS + Structure Sensor 3D (both available on the app’s website). Its use is quite intuitive and simple, since there are only 3 steps. The first is to scan the device, object or person you want, following the instructions provided. Then you get a preview of the raw scan, send it to the cloud and process it to get the 3D model with better quality. Finally, you can have your 3D model downloadable and editable via modeling software. It can also be printed in 3D. The application states that a normal size object can be scanned in 3 to 5 minutes while a full body will take 5 to 10 minutes.

3D scanner app

Polycam

Of course we would be remiss if we did not mention some of the new generation of apps that are starting to come through, notably those related to Apple’s LiDAR scanner. Generally, though there are many 3D scanner apps that are now becoming available thanks to this incredible technology, many of them are not yet really used with 3D printing, excluding them from this list. However, we did want to highlight one popular app that has been making waves, not the least because of its ability to be used with 3D printing. Polycam is currently supported on the iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max and the 2020 iPad Pro. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to find it on Android devices, though the developers mention that if mainstream Android devices come out with a comparable sensor, then they will make polecat available on Android as well. Polycam can export to a number of files including obj, and .stl. The app enables you to quickly create color 3D scans of objects and spaces. Thanks to LiDAR, it is much faster than many other scanning apps, allowing users to scan a single room in only seconds. The base app is free, but exporting requires a one-time in-app payment.

Qlone 3D scanner app

For those who want to scan without the use of complex software, Qlone offers a user-friendly alternative that aims to make 3D scanning of small objects a breeze. Qlone was originally designed for 3D scanning of toys. Eyecue Vision Technologies, the company behind Qlone, has already worked with manufacturers such as Playmobil, LEGO and Bandai, but has also been able to convince hobby printers with the idea. For the 3D scan to succeed, the Qlone Mat must first be printed out, which is placed under the object. Then, two different sections of the same object are created and merged using the smartphone. The user also has the option to modify the 3D model created by the smartphone – such as the texture or size. Afterwards, the scanned object can be exported to a variety of popular 3D file formats: OBJ, STL, USDZ, GLB, FBX, PLY and X3D.

3D scanner apps

Scandy Pro 3D scanner app

Scandy Pro is a 3D scanning app that was developed in the US and first launched in 2014. It is compatible with iOS devices only, specifically iPhone X, 11 and 12 and iPads Pro 2018 and above. Its features are numerous: adding a colored background, light adjustments, augmented reality view, noise filter, etc. 3D scans can be exported to .ply, .obj, ,stl formats which makes the application ideal for 3D printing. Scandy Pro uses LiDAR on the latest iPhone models.

SCANN3D

The Scann3D app was developed by Hungarian company Smart Mobile Device and relies on photogrammetry technology to enable the capture and reconstruction of 3D models from a smartphone or tablet. In other words, once downloaded to your phone (Android only), your device becomes a tool to transform the images you capture into 3D models by generating point cloud data. The resulting 3D models can be stored, shared and edited by other applications, and these same 3D models can also be used in augmented or virtual reality applications. This includes the ability to share with SketchFab. You have the possibility to export any model on Scann3D in several formats such as .obj, .stl or .ply.

3D scanner apps

Trnio 3D scanner app

Trnio is an application for cell phones that turns your device into a high quality 3D scanner. The platform is very simple and has three scanning modes. The first, called Photo Import, allows you to transform the photos on your phone into 3D models. The second, called ARKit Mode, uses Apple’s ARKit technology to guide you through the scanning process. Finally, Object Mode is ideal for scanning objects to get the best textures and colors. Once Trnio has generated a 3D model, you can easily export it to other 3D editors for further customization. Trnio works only for the iOS operating system, and can be downloaded from Apple’s app store.

3D scanner apps

3D Creator by Sony

The 3D Creator was developed by Sony to allow you to capture objects and people on your smartphone and directly turn them into high-resolution 3D models. There are five scanning modes on the 3D Creator, selfie, face, head, food and freeform. Depending on what you want to scan, the app will guide you to choose the correct mode. As with other scanning apps, 3D Creator lets you use your 3D models with other applications such as augmented reality. These models can easily be exported for 3D printing too. Keep in mind that you need a Sony mobile for the app to work. It is preinstalled in the Xperia 1, Xperia XZ1, Xperia XZ1 Compact, Xperia XZ2, Xperia XZ2 Compact, Xperia XZ2 Premium, and Xperia XZ3. The Xperia XZ Premium receives the 3D Creator as part of the Android 8.0 (Oreo) update.

3DsizeMe from TechMed3D

The 3DsizeMe mobile application was developed to digitize the human body in 3D. Available on the App Store, it uses the Structure Sensor 3D scanner (which must be bought separately) to capture all data from any part of the body, specifically to scan a plantar surface, a leg, a foot, the torso, etc. It is therefore geared towards the medical sector in order to learn more about a person’s anatomy. 3DsizeMe is equipped with an ergonomic interface that will allow you to retrieve all your data, current projects, etc. It is compatible with the iPhone and iPad and requires at least iOS 11.0. The resulting files can be read directly into the MSoft software of TechMed3D and exported in .STL or .OBJ format for 3D printing.

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