The Phiz 3D Scanner created by Kiri Innovation started as a Kickstarter with more than 900 backers, though things were shaky and delayed at the start. They have come together to start producing their affordable 3D scanner which can be accessed along with your smartphone.
With the right guidance, you’ll be able to create nicely detailed digital assets from a 3D object in front of you by using their set of the Phiz Beacon and the Phiz Turntable.
3D scanners are growing in popularity due to their abilities to produce usable scans of models that you have around you. Rather than designing objects from scratch, you can scan simple items and print that directly, or make small changes in a CAD software.
This article will take you through the capabilities of the Phiz Scanner as well as how it works.
Features of the Phiz 3D Scanner
- Phiz Beacon
- Phiz Turntable
- Simple Seamless App
- Smartphone-Powered Laser
- Photogrammetry Option
- Compatible with Android & iOS
- 0.2mm Scanning Accuracy
- Local Point Cloud Generation
The Phiz Beacon is the main holder of your smartphone, which secures it in place to scan your desired object. It has some cool in-built features within such as the Phiz Lighting System, a 5mw green laser, a wireless chip, built-in battery, along with an auto-elevation feature.
The Phiz Lighting System gives you the extra levels of light that you may need for scanning darker objects, especially when you don’t have a lot of natural light in the room. When it comes to scanning, the lighting is a very crucial aspect that needs to be done correctly.
Through your smartphone, you can seamlessly control the lighting levels with the Kiri 3D Scanner App.
The Phiz Turntable is the second main part of the complete package, which is simply a turntable but with some extra features that give it some great function.
It has amazingly precise control due to the 5V stepper motor with a gear ration of 256:1. Similar to the Phiz Beacon, it also has a wireless chip installed so it can easily communicate with your smartphone.
The battery life on the turntable is excellent, running through a built-in Lithium-Ion battery that lasts 6 hours on a full charge.
One of the great features that the Phiz Turntable has is the Magic Mark in the center. It has the ability to read the distance between your phone and the turntable, as well as getting information about your phone setup and camera parameters.
When you are going through the calibration process, this Magic Mark will start off the main process so that your object is in a good view of the camera.
Simple Seamless App
The Phiz App or 3DScanLink on the App Store is a really simple and easy-to-use application. After you find and download it, you simply make an account and confirm your email address to get started.
One of the great things about the app is how it has video instructions along the way for you to follow, so you have a good idea of how to operate the Phiz Beacon & Turntable correctly. Whether you are a student or a professional, you should be able to learn it fairly quickly.
It’s where you connect your smartphone to the Phiz devices, as well as where you’ll be doing the scans and getting the final meshes of your models.
The laser is one of the main methods of scanning your objects, which can be found on the Phiz Beacon and has a power rating of 5mW, along with a wavelength of 520nm.
It uses “Laser Triangulation” to improve accuracy and works with your smartphone to produce scans. You have to do a little bit of calibration to get the laser working as good as possible, but this is pretty simple to do and just involves making the green laser as thin as it can go.
This laser is the main illumination source that your smartphone camera will work with in order to get a decent quality mesh of your model. Since this method uses a laser on the outer surface of the object, we are limited to how complex of a model we can accurately scan.
You also have the option to make use of photogrammetry to create scans through the Phiz App. This is a feature that uses your phone’s camera rather than the laser to create a mesh.
You have to take plenty of photos of your desired object with good lighting and software can use these photos to create a lovely mesh or scan of the object.
Josef Prusa done a great video about this which you can check out below.
Compatible with Android & iOS
Whether you have an iPhone or an Android smartphone, the Phiz Scanner set is compatible with both since it mainly uses a Bluetooth connection and the Phiz App which is available in both app stores.
Depending on what device you have, the scanning times will vary, so having a higher quality smartphone is a benefit for speed and the camera quality.
0.2mm Scanning Accuracy
The laser scanner gives users the ability to scan objects with a scanning accuracy of 0.2mm, a respectable value that can produce fairly dimensionally accurate models. This batman model didn’t come out too bad with the Phiz Scanner.
It may be hard to get tiny details in objects like miniatures, or with objects that have a lot of curvature, but for the standard objects it should work pretty well.
Local Point Cloud Generation
Other 3D scanners tend to provide users with just the point cloud files, but the Phiz Scanner gives you the ability to create watertight meshes of the point cloud.
Your scans and meshes are saved within the app onto an online cloud that you can easily access through the app.
Specifications of the Phiz 3D Scanner
- Low Resolution: est. 4min – 10min
- Medium Resolution: est. 8min – 15min
- High Resolution: est. 16min – 30min
You’ll get different timings based on your device.
- Scan Resolution: up to 0.2mm
- Max. Scan Volume: 400mm x 400mm x 400mm
- Min. Scan Volume: 50mm x 50mm x 50mm
- Max. Turntable Load: 2kg
- Phiz Beacon: 8 hours
- Phiz Turntable: 6 hours
- ≤ 1.3 ft. (40 cm)
- iOS: iPhone 6 and later models, with iOS 12 and newer
- Android: Most Android phones after 2017, with Android 7.0 and newer
Point Cloud Resolution
- Up to 1 million vertices
- Phiz Turntable: 150 x 150.5 x 69.55mm
- Phiz Beacon: 85.5 x 85.5 x 165mm
Weight: 1.65kg (excluding the package)
- Antenna: Built-in Antenna
- Battery: 18650 Lithium Battery
- Voltage: 3.6V: Phiz Turntable: 2500mAh – Phiz Beacon: 2500mAh
- Battery Voltage < 3.5V
- Laser Power: 5mW
- Wavelength: 520nm
- SoC: NRF52832
- Life Cycle: 2500 hours
- RF Operating frequency: 2.4GHz–2.4835GHz
- Modulation Method: GFSK
- Rated RF Power: 20dBm
- Operating Temperature: -10°C – 45°C
- Operating Voltage: Max 4.2V, STD 3.7V, Min 3.3V
- Charge Current: Max 1750mA, STD 500mA
How to Use the Phiz Scanner – Walkthrough
Unboxing the Phiz Scanner
- Unbox the Phiz Beacon, Turntable & charging cable.
Download the Phiz App (3DScan Link)
- Download the Phiz (3DScanLink) app from the App Store
- Register an account on the app and verify your email address
Charge & Turn on Phiz Beacon & Turntable
- Charge up the Phiz Beacon & Turntable
- Turn on the Phiz Beacon & Turntable by holding the power button
Connect Your Phone With the Phiz Equipment
- Sign in to your account on the Phiz app and click “Connect to Phiz” – make sure your phone’s Bluetooth is on.
- The Phiz app will take you through instructions to calibrate the Phiz Beacon & Phiz Turntable.
Set Up the Phiz Equipment
- Press the right-side button on the Phiz Beacon to raise it up then press it again to lower it down.
- This is how you set your phone in place, ensuring that the phone is almost in line with the right side so the camera side sticks out
- You want to use the turn wheel on the Phiz Beacon to make the green laser as thin as it goes – instructions are shown in the app.
- Once your phone is in place, set the Phiz Turntable in view of the camera so the whole “Magic Mark” is completely visible.
Start the Scanning Process Through the Phiz App
- Now you can select “Calibration Start” for the calibration, which if done correctly should activate the Phiz Turntable to rotate.
- Place your object in the middle of the “Magic Mark”
- This is where we do a second calibration with the EV (the exposure levels) & TH (threshold for light in the scan).
- For lighter objects, the EV should be fairly low, while for darker objects, the EV should be higher.
- You want the green light to be the most visible on the object when you adjust the EV.
- For the TH or threshold, you adjust this based on the “Preview” results of the white scan line.
- The scan line should be a decent thickness and visible all the way up and down the object.
- Once the preview results look okay, you can choose your ideal quality in the settings, then start the scan.
You can see the screenshot from directly within the app which shows the EV and TH levels. When you raise the EV, it makes the picture darker, making the laser more prominent in the scan.
This is how it looks after hitting “Preview” which shows how your scan actually captures the object. It should be a good size line that’s not too thick or thin.
Below is the scan with the same EV level, but a higher TH (threshold) level which results in the scanner being less prominent.
This results in a much thinner line which doesn’t result in the best scan according to my results.
Your background is important since it can be included in the scan. The best thing to do is to either have a dark background which doesn’t scan so easily, or scan your object closer so the laser is more direct on the object, then adjust TH levels.
- After the scan finishes, you can scale the object if the height (V – Vertical) or width (H – Horizontal) dimensions are off.
Create Your 3D Mesh
- Choose the scan from the Library within the app that you want and select “Mesh”
- This will bring up a screen with advanced settings on how to process the Mesh – default setting should be fine
The scan below is an OBJ file imported directly into Cura. The details aren’t the clearest on the Einstein due to the complexity of the model and the level of accuracy of the scanner.
It couldn’t accurate get the depth levels in the noise, eyes or ears, so models with less defining features are better for scans with the Phiz Scanner.
Here’s the mesh of a 3D printed Batman model I scanned. This was done in a quick, low definition scan so you can definitely improve on the scanned features.
Here is a higher quality mesh using the same batman model which took around 20 minutes.
I did some basic smoothing in Meshmixer for the STL file, though you can take some more time to sculpt and smooth the model for printing.
You can check out this video by Kiri Innovation themselves who created the Phiz Scanner for tips on how to get optimal scanning results for your objects.
I’d recommend scanning more basic-shaped items that don’t have as much smaller details to the 0.2mm level. You can also see some extra mesh at the top of the model.
You’ll want to download a CAD software that can edit the Mesh such as Blender or Meshmixer to fix this. Below is a really basic example of an attempt to fix the mesh.
I simply used the “Select” function and dragged the mouse to select the mesh, and hit the delete button. Then I tried using a “Smooth” function under “Deform” as well as a sculpt to try and make the top look a little better.
You could definitely spend more time making it look better, but there’s a quick example.
Check out the video below for a nice illustration of the process on how to fix a mesh within Meshmixer.
Benefits of the Phiz 3D Scanner
- Wide compatibility with devices such as iPhone 6 and up or Androids after 2017
- Can scan objects as large as 400 x 400 x 400mm since you can easily adjust the distances between devices
- Has a good lighting system to illuminate scanned objects
- Great battery life in both devices
- Easy to use and operate
- Wireless system between the Phiz Beacon, the Phiz Scanner & your phone
- Relatively low cost compared to other 3D scanners
Downsides of the Phiz 3D Scanner
- May have trouble scanning miniatures since it has 0.2mm scanning accuracy
- Doesn’t scan complex objects that have internal designs – mainly gets the exterior shell & mesh
- High quality scans can take up to 30 minutes with some devices
- You get lower quality scans depending on how good your phone is
Customer Reviews on the Phiz 3D Scanner
There haven’t been many reviews done on the Phiz 3D Scanner so far, but from what is out there, things do look decent. Simpler objects can be scanned, but detailed objects don’t scan too well.
This video by Anet did a great job showing the workflow and capabilities of the Phiz Scanner alongside their Anet ET4 Pro machine.
Verdict – Worth Buying or Not?
The Phiz Scanner does have some upsides and downsides in terms of its capabilities and application for 3D printing. You won’t be able to get the most detailed or accurate models with this laser scanning feature, but for simpler shapes, it can work well.
It has a fairly seamless experience between the Phiz devices and your smartphone, though there needs to be a more in-depth tutorial when it comes to learning how to scan objects accurately with the laser.
Once you get past the initial learning curve on how to use the laser scanner, the Phiz Scanner seems like a worthy purchase to get started in the 3D scanning space. I’d definitely recommend also learning the mesh editing workflow to clean up models nicely.
You can purchase the Phiz 3D Scanner directly on their website.