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The Best “Affordable” 3D Scanners [Featured]

As 3D printing and vision technology starts to move into consumer space and become common in smaller institutions and even at home, 3D scanning is still struggling to catch up. There are some “low cost” scanning options out there for people who need 3D models, but most truly affordable scanners are still in early development. Read on to find out about the best affordable 3D scanners that currently do exist, and find out a bit about what is still to come.

PhotoModeler Scanner

PhotoModeler uses photograph based 3D imaging technology to create a 3D model from pictures you provide with a standard digital camera. PhotoModeler is a software based 3D scanning solution that can make a high quality 3D image from multiple 2D sources. PhotoModeler creates a high resolution 3D point cloud that can be exported as a mesh with a variety of easy to work with formats, and offers a dense surface modeling option for images that use an extremely high number of 3D points to model with accuracy. The high level of accuracy makes PhotoModeler a great choice for fields like archeology and medicine.

PhotoModeler’s 3D scanning software sells for $2595. More information about the what PhotoModeler is capable of can be found at the PhotoModeler 3D scanner site.

FastScan Cobra

The FastScan Cobra is a hand held 3D scanner that offers the versatility to handle just about any 3D use out there, from modeling people in motion to getting a complete 3D map for large or small objects. The FastScan Cobra is one of the only portable 3D scanners out there that can provide real time modeling of objects either at rest or in motion. It exports point clouds to a wide variety of professional formats and delivers an absolute level of accuracy necessary for many professional applications.

Unfortunately, FastScan’s 3D scanner doesn’t have a published list price, though it is widely touted as the most affordable professional level real time 3D modeling option out there. Find out more about the FastScan Cobra at FastScan’s website.

ZScanner 600

The ZScanner 600 is a portable laser scanner that can refine your scan as you go to create a highly detailed image with multiple resolutions to choose from. The Zscanner claims to refine each scan as it works, which helps the user avoid dealing with point cloud issues and mid scan recalibration. The Zscanner outputs to just about all professional formats and has an image quality that can be adjusted for use in applications across multiple professions.

The ZScanner advertises itself as the world’s most affordable portable laser scanner, costing $28,900. For the price, the ZScanner is easily one of the best truly portable 3D scanning options out there. Find out more at the ZScanner 600’s information page.

NextEngine 3D Scanner

NextEngine currently has the best relatively low cost 3D scanner available for purchase right now. NextEngine’s 3D scanner manages to deliver a high point input 3D model for about one tenth the cost of most older 3D manufacturing scanners. NextEngine’s scanner exports to just about every major 3D format software supports, plugs in and runs with a simple USB connection, and stays portable enough to be plugged into a laptop and used just about anywhere without any major setup requirement.

The NextEngine 3D scanner currently sells for 2,995. You can find out more about what it can do and how to get it by going to Next Engine’s website.

Real-View 360? 3D Scanner

The Real-View 3D scanner is presented as the first consumer level low cost 3D scanning option to hit the market. While this product is still in the all promise and no delivery stage, it offers a simple desktop setup that will export a 3D scan of objects that fit on the scanning surface for an unprecedented low price. This scanner doesn’t export to professional formats, leaving it firmly in the home user space.

Real-View is still vaporware, but you can find out more about what the scanner claims to be able to do here.

Today’s guest blog post has been written by James Adams who is a writer and an editor on, providing Samsung toner and other printing supplies to Great Britain.


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