3D printing is great in itself, but what if we could 3D scan ourselves and then 3D print ourselves. This is definitely possible when you know the right techniques. In this article, I will detail and guide you through how to 3D scan yourself the right way.
To 3D scan yourself, you should use a process called photogrammetry which is taking several pictures from a phone or normal camera, then uploading it to 3D reconstruction software, a great one being Meshroom. You can then clean imperfections of the model using the Blender app and 3D print it.
There are some real details and steps to perfect this process, so definitely keep reading to get a clear tutorial on how to 3D scan yourself.
What Do You Need to 3D Scan Yourself Properly?
People that have experience 3D scanning themselves tend to use either a phone or a professional 3D scanner.
You don’t need a bunch of complicated equipment or some specialized scanning apparatus, just a decent quality phone will suffice, as well as the correct software such as Blender and Meshroom.
Some 3D scanners are more suitable for small, detailed objects while others are great for 3D scanning your head and body so keep this in mind.
The 3D scanners capture the shape of your body through a series of data points. These data points are then combined to get a 3D model. 3D scanners use photo technology, such as:
- Structured-light Scanners
- Depth Sensors
- Stereoscopic Vision
This shows us that it uses various measurements to encompass different shapes and minute details of an object, or in this case, yourself.
All these data points are combined into a single data map, and a full 3D scan is fleshed out.
Basic Process of 3D Scanning
3D scanning may seem complex, which it is technologically speaking, but let me give you a simple explanation of the process of 3D scanning:
- You can either use a 3D scanner through your phone or can get a 3D scanner machine.
- The structured light lasers hover over an object to create data points.
- The software then combines these thousands of data points.
- All these data points help in getting a detailed, accurate, and realistic model within a specialized program
However, before moving towards 3D scanning yourself or others, you should know a few important points about it.
Type and Size of Objects
Some 3D scanners are more suitable for scanning smaller objects while there are also those scanners available, which you can use for scanning the whole body from head to toe.
You should be aware of the size of objects or yourself to select the right scanner for such purpose.
It would be best for you if you consider the extent of accuracy that you need for 3D scanning.
The maximum precision and accuracy which a group of 3D scanners can give lies between 30-100 microns (0.03-0.1mm).
Focus on the resolution and get your values aligned before starting it.
Resolution is directly related to the accuracy; the better the resolution of your 3D scanner will be, the higher the accuracy.
Speed of the Scanner
Static objects do not cause a problem with speed; it is the moving objects which require an adjusted level of speed. You can select and adjust the speed from the software settings and get things done with ease.
How to 3D Scan Yourself
There are different ways of 3D scanning yourself, and I will be listing them one by one. So keep on reading.
Photogrammetry with Camera
Josef Prusa goes into great detail on how to 3D scan with just a phone using photogrammetry. He has sweet, real-life examples and extra tips to help you get some good quality results.
Rather than needing a high-end camera, you can actually choose to use your phone to 3D scan yourself.
There are open-source softwares you can make use of for your photogrammetry needs. Meshroom/AliceVision is great for photogrammetry, Blender is great for editing, then Cura is a good choice for your slicing.
So the first step is using Meshroom, which is a free, open-source software that specializes in 3D reconstruction, photo and camera tracking to produce 3D models by using several photos as the source.
It has some amazing features that make it a lot easier to create some high quality meshes that can be used easily.
What you do is:
- Get your desired object and make sure the lighting is fairly even all-round
- Take several pictures (50-200) of your desired object, making sure it stays in one place
- Export those pictures to Meshroom to put them together and recreate the object as a 3D model
- Clean up the model in the Blender app to make 3D printing easier and more accurate, then export to slicer
- Slice & print the model as usual
The better your camera, the better your 3D models will be but you can still get excellent quality models with a decent quality phone camera. Josef Prusa uses a DSLR camera which is great for those extra details.
2. Mobile 3D Scanning App
This method requires no extra hardware and no extra hand to help in the scanning process. The process is simple and given below:
- Install the app which you want to for scanning.
- Take a picture of your face.
- Move your face to both sides to let the scanner capture the sides.
- Email the result to your desktop or laptop.
- Build your model easily from there.
Depending on the functionality of your phone’s scanning capabilities, you may have to export the file and change the file extension to .png, then open the .gltf file if it can’t be opened.
You can then open it in Blender and export it as an .obj file.
2. Handheld 3D Scanners
Handheld 3D scanners tend to be pretty expensive, especially if you want one with respectable quality. If you can access a 3D scanner locally for quick-use, then that would be perfect.
I did write an article about the Best 3D Scanners Under $1,000 which details some of the better cheap scanners out there.
If you want to scan yourself using a handheld 3D scanner, you’re going to need a second person to help out. The process is simpler than using the photogrammetry, but they are essentially doing the same concept.
They will require a second person to help you with scanning yourself. What is required to be done is as follows:
- Stand in a well-lit room that ideally has multiple light sources to reduce shadows
- Get the second person to move the 3D scanner slowly over the whole body or parts that you want to capture
- Similarly to the camera scanning, you’ll export these pictures to software to make a model out of it.
3. 3D Scanning Booths
iMakr are a great example of a 3D scanning booth that creates a ‘Mini-You’ using the latest technology to recreate your looks in a 3D-color infused sandstone composite.
The whole process doesn’t take too long, and can be done in around two weeks.
Here’s how the process works:
- You come in to iMakr, dressed to impress.
- We scan your full body image in our scanning booth.
- Your scans are processed on site into an initial print file.
- This file is transmitted to our design team for final preparation.
- We print a full color Mini-You in sandstone.
- We deliver your Mini-You or you can come into the shop to pick it up.
Doob is another 3D scanning service which makes replicas of you. Check out the cool video below for more details behind the process.
4. Xbox Kinect Scanner
Many people get excited when they figure out the capabilities of their Xbox Kinect to actually 3D scan themselves. The Kinect is quite outdated, but its still an option for some.
There isn’t too much stock of them around, although its possible to purchase one from Amazon, Ebay, or other e-commerce websites.
You can download the latest version KScan from a mirror, since it is no longer actively available.
How to Make a 3D Model Print of Yourself
Depending on the technique you used to get the 3D model ready, you should have been able to create a file which can be processed and sliced to finally print.
At first it can seem pretty complex, but with the right directions, it can be quite simple.
After you have taken all the photos which are required for generating a 3D model, the rest of the work is done in a system. The steps are listed below for your understanding.
As previously mentioned, you’re going to want to use the open-source Meshroom/AliceVision software to create the model for you to print.
Meshroom can be downloaded from their official website.
The video below is a great tutorial to make a 3D print model of objects and yourself if you have the images!
Best 3D Scanner Apps for 3D Printing
The application stores for both Android and iPhone are filled with 3D scanner apps.
You do not require any extra hardware in addition to your smartphone while installing these apps. The list of the apps is as follows:
- Qlone: It is a free application and works on both IOS and Android devices. You will require a special black and white paper mat, which can look like a QR code to scan something.
- Scandy Pro: This app is only for iPhone users, and it can turn the iPhone into a full-color 3D scanner. You can edit the scans within the app in real-time with various tools.
- Scann3D: Android users can use this app to scan photos of the object which they wish to 3D scan.
To get the scanning right, you should take photos in a continuous circle around the object.
- Sony 3D Creator: 3D Creator is Sony’s entry to smartphone scanning, and it is compatible with all Android devices. Through its selfie mode, you can even scan yourself.