Trimensional 3d Scanner App Review for iPad and iPhone

Recent articles here have taken a look at the popularity of 3D printing. To do 3D printing one first needs a model, which can be difficult to create for novice users or enthusiasts. Many modeling softwares take years to master and even professionals struggle at times to keep up to date with the most cutting edge technologies, so how is a casual users expected to be able to utilize a 3D printer.

Enter 3D Scanning.

Scanning allows for a camera and software to be used in the creation of 3D surfaces. There are many methods and technologies for scanning but most work on a simple principle. If you are able to take multiple images of the same object from various perspectives it is possible to combine the images in a 3D space. Additionally images from the same persepective independently defined lighting can also be used to create a 3D texture map or model of an object. Often this requires an elaborate setup (some of which will soon be reviewed here) but an enterprising research from the University of Georgia has found a way to achieve a decent 3D scan using just an iPhone. Trimensional App blog.

I purchased the app in the app store to try it out. Typically a software package that does something so complex would cost much more but this one is available for $0.99. Great job Apple on convincing developers that this low rate will increase sales. In my case it certainly worked as less than $1 meant it was cheap enough at least to try out for fun, exporting in a 3D format however costs an additional $4.99 with available options of OBJ, STL, and PLY.

All you need to do is step in a dark room and let the phone do the work. The app is designed for an iPhone but on an iPad  the 2X function allows for lighting from a larger area and even though it is not the complete edges of the device the result still is reasonable. Below are some of my scans.

For $0.99 the app is useless but fun. The additional $4.99 can provide a decent output to be manipulated in post but do not expect to be building amazing lifelike 3D renderings from the results. Surface structures have a number of issues and inaccuracies and the edges of the models do not have the right geometry (the face result is much flatter than in real life). All in all the function of the application is limited. The time, skill, and effort it would take to clean up the scan make it prohibitely difficult for major commercial uses but certainly some DIYers will find it acceptable for hobby grade projects especially considering the ease of use and overall investment ($5.98).

More elaborate setups for hobbisyts include such items as the DAVID Laserscanner while those looking for an off the shelf commerical grade scanner should look into Konica Minolta, NextEngine, or ZCorp.

New Industries Created By 3D Printing

Last week an interesting research paper, published in Nature and covered at the UPenn website, hit the mainstream media with hundreds of mentions of 3d printing. The research itself is fascinating, but the implications that is has for the 3d printing industry are even more compelling. Additive fabrication machines, 3d printers, are just tools and the real growth they are capable of creating for the industry will come mostly from all the new devices, components, and products they can create. Printing presses were an amazing advancement, but the greatest part about them was how they made it so easy to distribute ideas and thoughts without having to painstakingly rewrite each word. By making it easy to fabricate a design, 3d printers allow semi skilled laborers to easily create precision components that would have traditionally taken many hours of machining on expensive equipment with costly materials.

8 Movies for Product Development Engineers

It is not just Sci-Fi movies that revolve around the world of tech toys and engineering. There are a number of great films, from documentaries to mainstream blockbusters, that have engineers as central plot characters or touch on some topic that is a part of every engineers world. Here are just a few of the ones that I have seen either without prompting or at the suggestion of other engineers who say it is a must watch...

Sunglass CAD in the Cloud and User Rights

Recently in the news there have been a number of mentions for a product called "". At the core it is a 3D viewer that runs on a browser. Although there is some good functionality to Sunglass as a viewer the founders and PR people are going crazy with hyperbole, referencing it as "Google Docs for 3D objects". Docs offer a way to add, create, and fully edit documents as well as serving as a storage location for non-native file types. Sunglass can read and render a massive variety of CAD file types, a truly useful task, but it lacks the ability to edit or create models from scratch. It is NOT a modeling software which many publications either have overlooked or just misquoted in coverage, but that does not make it a functionless piece of software.

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