Being able to successfully 3D scan objects for 3D printing is definitely getting better as time progresses. This article will look at some of the best 3D scanner apps for 3D printing so you can get some great results.
Best 3D Scanner Apps for 3D Printing
3D printing has faced a boom in the market as more and more people are getting interested in this helpful technology. Although most people design their 3D prints in CAD software, some want to print existing objects that they don’t have the skill to design, or are difficult to do so.
For such an object, 3D scanning apps have been developed that can help you in analyzing the object and then transforming it into a digital one in the form of a 3D scan. You can then import them into a CAD software for editing or directly print them via a 3D printer.
Below are some of the best and most helpful 3D scanner apps for 3D printing:
- Scandy Pro
Scandy Pro first came into the market in 2014. It is solely designed to work on iOS devices mainly including the iPhone series above 11 and iPad series above 2018. It is also runnable on the iPhone X, XR, XS MAX, and XS versions.
It is a free (with in-app purchases) 3D scanning app that can make your iPhone capable of becoming a full-fledged high-resolution color scanner. It supports a wide range of file types such as PLY, OBJ, STL, USDZ, and GLB.
Scandy Pro prevents time wastage as you don’t end up getting wrong or undesired scans and all this is ensured because the app has a feature to preview the object on the screen while it is being scanned.
The app works on LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology in which a sensor emits light and calculates the exact accurate distance between two spots. Make sure you place the iPhone or iPad at a flat or stationary place so that it doesn’t get disturbed while scanning.
Also, professionals recommend rotating and changing the position of the object instead of the camera for better and more accurate scanning.
As soon as you get the object scanned, you can either export it directly in any of the above-mentioned file formats preferably STL or you can do this process after utilizing various editing tools embedded in the application.
Check out the video below for a visual example of scanning through the Scandy Pro 3D Scanner.
Pros of Scandy Pro
- By utilizing Apple’s TrueDepth sensor, it can create colorful 3D meshes of the object within a few seconds.
- Has a wide range of editing tools to modify the scanned object as desired before exporting the file.
- Extremely user-friendly and easy-to-understand interface
- Has features and tools to export the scanned file for in-depth cleanup.
- The new version of the Scandy Pro 3D scanner has a SketchFab integration which opens up gates for advanced and further editing of your scans.
Cons of Scandy Pro
- Apple only adds a TrueDepth sensor in the front camera so you can’t scan objects from the back one.
- As you can only scan with the front camera, scanning really small objects can become extremely difficult or impossible sometimes.
- Not compatible with android devices
User Experience of Scandy Pro
A user of this app gave feedback stating that he has used a wide range of 3D scanners and has been using Scandy Pro for a long time. Due to various updates, this app has now become extremely fast, high resolution, and reliable.
He also claims that it is one of the best apps both in terms of editing tools and pricing.
Another user claims that he is completely happy with all its features, the only frustrating thing is that you need to move the mobile in an extremely slow manner because if you lose track at any point, you may need to re-scan the object from the beginning.
The Scandy Pro 3D Scanner App has a whopping 4.3-star rating on its official download page. You can take a look at the user reviews for your better satisfaction.
Qlone is one of the 3D scanning apps that are compatible with both Apple and Android devices. It has an automatic animation feature that allows users to scan objects in augmented reality (AR) and 4K resolution.
The application is free of cost but you need to buy the premium version of the Qlone so that you can download or export the files in 4K resolution.
It scans the object which is placed on a mat that completely looks like a QR code as these black and white lines are used by the Qlone 3D scanning app as a marker.
In order to utilize the full-fledged functionalities of the Qlone app, you need to make sure that your Android device has Google Play or ARCore services running.
You can get the scan of the whole object only by scanning its images from two or more different angles. This factor makes it extremely fast and efficient as well.
Qlone works on the scenario in which the mat is considered as the area to scan. They form a half-circle that completely looks like a dome. Qlone app reads and scans everything that comes within the dome while all other surroundings on the mat are just considered noises and get wiped off.
You can edit and modify the scan while adding texts, resizing the object, and merging two different scans. You have the option to download the scanned files in STL and OBJ file types.
For a better look at the Qlone 3D scanning app, check out the video below.
Pros of Qlone
- Fast processing is being completed in real-time
- Doesn’t require extra time for processing the scan
- Include an AR view of the scans
- User Friendly and easy to understand
- The AR dome itself guides users about which part needs to be scanned next.
Cons of Qlone
- As the whole object should be within the area of a mat while scanning, you need to print a bigger mat if you want to scan a big bulky object using Qlone.
- Scans are sometimes not 100% identical to the actual object
- Inconsistent in complex designs
- Only suitable for hobbyists and beginners
- Require premium version to export or view in AR or 4K resolution
User Experience of Qlone
One of the buyers said in his feedback that everything about this scanning app is good if you keep its price in mind. For better detail in the scans, it is recommended to expose good light while scanning the object. Doing so will prevent flaws in the design and curves of the scans.
Another user claims that any of the scanning apps he has used previously require buying its features that actually need to be used but Qlone offers all its features to be used without any cost, except for exports and viewing in AR which makes it less suitable for professionals.
The Qlone 3D scanner app has a 4.1-star rating on its Apple Store download page while 2.2 on Google Play Store. You can take a look at the user reviews for your better satisfaction.
Check out the Qlone app from the official app store.
Polycam is widely considered one of the most advanced and efficient scanning apps because of its high-tech features and methods.
Although the application is only available for Apple users, the company has announced in the previous year that they are hopeful to release a version in 2022 for Android users as well.
You have the option to simply create an object with the help of a few photos or you can scan the object in real-time as well. To scan in real-time, your mobile should have a LiDAR sensor which can usually be found in almost all iPhones from 11 to the latest ones.
While using Polycam, a user has the option to export scanned files in a wide range of formats mainly including STL, DAE, FBX and OBJ. This app gives you the feature of the Ruler which allows you to take measurements with great accuracy.
The measurements are generated automatically by the app itself in the LiDARs capture mode.
Check out the video below for a better look at scanning with the Polycam app.
Pros of Polycam
- Two scanning modes, Photogrammetry, and LiDAR
- Sharing features with friends and professionals via link
- Generates 100% dimensionally accurate scans
- Allow users to scan large objects with maximum ease
- Dozens of file formats
- Simply take pictures of the objects and upload them to get scans in photogrammetry mode.
Cons of Polycam
- You need to pay $7.99 per month
- Or $4.99 per month if you buy a subscription for a whole year.
- Only compatible with iOS
User Experience of Polycam
The user experiences of Polycam are generally positive.
One of its many users mentioned that he has been using Polycom for a long time now and he can clearly say that if you want to scan objects in a quick manner, you should go LiDAR mode but you may need to compromise a little bit on the mesh quality of the scan.
If you want a scan of high-quality, you should go with photos but this method may take some extra time for processing.
Another user said that he loved the way this app is designed and created. You don’t have to waste time finding a feature because the interface is extremely easy to use.
Apart from this, the processing time is far less as he has never experienced a waiting time of more than 30-100 seconds on most of his scans.
Someone who got the iPhone 12 Pro just for the sole purpose of using the LiDAR scanner said that it’s hands down the best for detailed scans of objects, putting it in the top 3 for scanning rooms and spaces.
One of the users suggests a few things to get better results:
- Expose more uniform and diffuse light
- Capturing photos or scanning objects while mounting the camera in landscape mode.
They are constantly updating the app, which is noticed by users as mentioned in their reviews. A few people had issues with getting the app to operate, but the official company are great at responding and giving technical support.
The Polycom 3D scanner app has a whopping 4.8-star rating on its official download page. You can take a look at the user reviews here.
Trnio is a 3D scanning application that is solely compatible with iOS devices that too with the models that have an iOS version of 8.0 and above.
It works on photogrammetry methods as the app has features to convert pictures into 3D models and allows users to download them as scanned files.
Trnio allows users to get the scanned files in two different resolutions according to their needs, either high or low texturing resolution. Trnio has the ability to scan an object as small as miniatures and as big as a whole room.
All you need to do is simply move the mobile around the objects and Trnio will keep on taking the pictures. At the end of the process, it will process those images to form a 3D scanned model.
You can take selfies to create a 3D scan of your own and if you have a device with ARKit embedded, you can scan big areas with maximum ease.
Although you can export all scanned files in OBJ file format, you need to get help from third-party software such as MeshLab if you want files in PLY, STL, or other formats.
The video below is a Trnio 3D scanning tutorial, showing you how you can use it for your own 3D scanning.
Pros of Trnio
- Both LiDAR and ARKit technologies are embedded so that users can scan objects with maximum ease.
- Integrated with Cloud Computing Technology
- Can process as much as 100-500 images at a time to form a perfect 3D scan.
- Allows users to create a 3D scan of a human’s face in accurate shape
- Export files in SketchFab and OBJ file format
- Can scan small and large objects using multiple modes.
- Auto-Trimming features
Cons of Trnio
- Need to pay $4.99 as a one-time payment
- Few file formats are supported
- No full-fledged editor (Trnio Plus has a full editor)
User Experience of Trnio
You may get issues in the scan if the model or object has a colorful or disturbing background as the Trnio can get confused and capture the background as an object as well. To tackle these issues, you should place the object with a black background.
A user claims that everything is good but there should be a rotate option so that people can change their position after the scan has been created. Also, the internet connection should be stable because a poor or interrupted internet connection can ruin the scan. He also stated that he talked about these issues to CS and they responded by saying that developers are working on it.
Trnio has a 3.8-star rating on its Apple Store download page. You can take a look at the user reviews for your better satisfaction.
Check out the Trnio 3D Scanner App today.
Best 3D Scanner Software for 3D Printing
3D scanning has become extremely popular in small, medium, freelance, industrial, and non-industrial businesses and one should have the best working software to get the most out of it.
Below are some of the top listed 3D scanner software currently operating in the 3D printing market:
- Reality Capture
- 3D Zephyr
When Meshroom was being designed and developed by top European researchers, their main aim was to build a 3D scanning software that can make the 3D scanning process extremely easy.
They have the ambition to include as many useful features as possible so that users can get high-quality 3D scans using photogrammetry mode.
A highly advanced Alice Vision framework was introduced which allows the users to not only process but construct highly detailed 3D scans using a bunch of photos.
Meshroom is a free and open-source 3D scanning software that can run flawlessly on Windows 64-bit version. You can use this amazing software or Linux as well.
You simply have to open the Meshroom window by clicking on its icon. Open the folder with images, drag and drop them into the section located on the left side of the Meshroom window.
Once you have all the images uploaded, you can work on the actual processing and editing of the images to form a 3D scan.
For a detailed and better understanding of the process, follow the tutorial below.
Pros of Meshroom
- Multiple reconstruction modes for scanning and editing
- Detailed analysis and live preview features
- Efficient and easy texture handling
- In case, you want to add more pictures, you can do it while the project is in the editing phase without requiring a complete redo process.
Cons of Meshroom
- The software requires a CUDA-compatible GPU
- Can be slowed down or get hanged sometimes if you upload a lot of images at the same time.
- No scaling tools and options
User Experience of Meshroom
One user said in his feedback that he loved the fact that Meshroom is a free open-source 3D scanning software based on nodes. One of the best things in this software is the control that allows users to edit, change, or modify the nodes according to their needs.
Another user showed his appreciation in almost all the software aspects but stated that there is still room for improvement. The software can get stuck while processing a bunch of images. It usually restarts from where it was stopped but sometimes completely stops the processing.
To prevent such a situation, he suggested uploading a few images and once they are processed, upload more. Repeat this procedure until you get all your images uploaded and processed in the software step by step.
The Meshroom 3D scanner software has a whopping 5-star rating on its official download page.
RealityCapture was introduced to the world in 2016 but because of its amazing features, it became popular among 3D hobbyists, professionals, and even game developers.
You can get an idea about its specificity by the fact that this scanning software was partially used in the making of Star Wars: Battlefield along with the main tool of photogrammetry, PhotoScan.
The company itself claims that its software is 10 times faster than any other 3D scanning software currently available in the market. Although it is claimed by the company, many users also have fully agreed on this aspect.
Apart from just working on images, RealityCapture also has the ability to scan the objects and models using laser technology in aerial and close-range view modes. Camera-mounted UAVs along with laser scanners are utilized for this purpose.
It allows you to not only capture 3D scans in the best of quality but can also edit them to the fullest because of its multiple editing tools.
The video below is a great tutorial on using RealityCapture for creating a 3D scan.
Pros of RealityCapture
- Can easily and efficiently produce a 3D scan with a maximum of 2,500 images at a single time.
- With its laser scanning and cloud creation, Reality Capture creates detailed and perfectly accurate scans.
- Less time-consuming
- Boosted productivity
- Efficient workflows
- Auto analyzer to identify the pain point in the design
- Has features and abilities to create full-body scans
- Immediately starts surveying and documentation process along with digitizing 3D replicas of the object.
Cons of RealityCapture
- Relatively expensive as you need to pay as much as $99 to get a subscription for 3 months.
- You need to tackle issues if they occur as they don’t really offer efficient Customer Support.
- Only suitable for professionals or industrial use as they are not so affordable and easy to understand for beginners.
User Experience of RealityCapture
Many users love their experience with RealityCapture. It’s important to take a good number of photos, as many as possible will give you the best results, even if you feel like you have a lot.
One user who started scanning and got 65 pictures out of 80 realized that he should have taken more photos. After going back to take pictures of the object for photogrammetry, he got 137 out of 142 photos and said the results were much better.
The software works in phases, so your first phase needs to be done well for the rest of the process to work well. Avoid reflective objects or solid color objects for your models.
People mention that learning the software is the easy part, but learning how to take good images for a 3D model can be challenging, so focus on that aspect. Ideally, you want objects with a good color variation for the best scans, like a rock since there are usually many angles and color differences.
One user shared his experience of using multiple 3D scanning software and he ended up concluding that Reality Capture actually is faster than many other scanning software.
The main difference with RealityCapture and other software in terms of speed is that they use the CPU rather than the GPU.
Another user said that the software is extremely good in all its aspects but when it comes to usage, the options are sometimes difficult to find or apply.
According to him, this should only be used by professionals and beginners and small hobbyists may not go well with its complexity in using, but this is debatable.
You can try out RealityCapture for creating 3D models.
3DF Zephyr works on photogrammetry technology as it creates 3D scans by processing images. You can get a free version of it, but it does have multiple versions such as Lite, Pro, and Aerial and these should be available if you want to get the most out of it.
Checking the version will have a good impact on the quality along with the images count which can be processed in a single run. If you are an advanced person who usually works on mapping systems and GISs, you should give the 3DF Zephyr Aerial version a try.
Most of the experts consider 3DF Zephyr as one of the best and easiest 3D scanning software currently running in the market. The user interface is so easy that a first-time user should not have any issues in getting to the other end.
The software has a pre-built guide that can lead you to the next step until you get your perfect 3D scans.
Although it is easy, it doesn’t discount professionals from using this software.
Expert level professionals can utilize this software as it includes a wide range of features mainly including the options to adjust, modify and tweak 3D scans along with the features to transform 3D scanned models in CAD software.
3D Zephyr have an official tutorial on their page which you can check out for a detailed guide.
The video below shows a workflow that includes 3D Zephyr, along with Lightroom, Zbrush, Meshmixer & Ultimaker Cura.
You can also check out this video tutorial below of a user 3D scanning and showing how you can 3D print the model.
Pros of 3DZephyr
- The software can process pictures whether they are taken from normal cameras, 360-degree cameras, mobile phones, drones, or any other picture capturing device.
- Video uploading feature
- Suitable for almost all kinds of 3D scanning applications
- Multiple versions for different types of applications
- Reasonable pricing and packages
- Multiple navigation options: Free Look, Pivot, and Orbit
- Multiple editing tools for meshing, adjusting and enhancing the scan.
Cons of 3DZephyr
- Work better on CUDA graphics cards
- Sometimes can be slow especially if compared to other scanners of the same kind.
- Require heavy-duty hardware
User Experience of 3DZephyr
A buyer said everything in appreciation of this amazing software but the best thing in his eyes was video uploading. 3DF Zephyr has features that allow you to upload video directly as capturing images is far more difficult than simply recording video.
The software itself has a tool that then breaks down the video into frames and processes them as pictures. Apart from this, it also works on frames that are blurred or the same.
Another amazing feature of this software is the availability of multiple navigation modes. The WASD navigation option is best suitable for game developers while Wacom users can go with Zoom and Pan navigation using Shift and Ctrl keys respectively.
If you are a person who wants to learn and gain experience in 3D scanning, COLMAP is considered one of the best software as it is easy to use and completely free of cost.
It allows users to create 3D scans using the photogrammetry method while taking pictures from a single or a full-fledged setup including multiple cameras.
The software is available in both command line and graphical user interface modes for the convenience of different types of users. You can get all the source code of the COLMAP in its latest updates on Github without any cost.
Make sure that you mention the name or link of the one who has actually written the source code, especially if you are going to use 3D scans on a professional level.
COLMAP comes with a wide range of options and features that can enhance the quality and detail of the 3D created mesh or scan in a quick and easy manner.
Do keep this fact in mind that the software does not have a single feature to edit or modify the 3D print as it only focuses on creating the best quality 3D scans.
Pros of COLMAP
- Highly qualified 24/7 customer support via online methods.
- Allow users to utilize its functionalities even without a CUDA-enabled GPU.
- Comes with complete documentation to guide you through each step.
- One of the easiest Graphical User Interface along with command line access.
- Can create 3D scans from a single camera or complete stereo setup.
Cons of COLMAP
- No editing features as you need to get help from other software such as MeshLab for refining purposes.
- Not the best suitable option for expert-level or industrial use.
- A bit slow as compared to other 3D scanning software.
User Experience of COLMAP
One user said that he ignored COLMAP for a long time as there was no option to refine 3D scans but had to give it a try after a while. Once he scanned an object on COLMAP, he never turned back because it produced 3D scans with amazing quality with proper and accurate detailing.
Check out COLMAP for your 3D scanning projects today.