Cubify announced the "Sense 3D Scanner" in a surprise announcement. The 3D printer manufacturer has thus far produced only 3D printers, making the Sense a completely new product line.
It's a handheld 3D scanner capable of rapidly capturing 3D shapes. We examined the specifications for the device and noted the following:
- The scan volume ranges from 20cm to 300cm-sided cubic volumes. It seems that the resolution is dependent on the volume selected; in other words, there's a fixed number of "pixels" that are spread over the scan volume, up to 400,000 triangles
- The scan unit itself is made by Primesense, the same folks who produce the scanner inside Microsoft's Kinect device. It's laser-based, but don't worry - it's classified as "eye-safe"
- File output is either STL or PLY (which contains color textures, meaning you can capture color scans with the Sense). These are universal formats, meaning you are free to use them with non-Cubify 3D printers or other software packages
- The scanner is matched to proprietary software that comes with the Sense. It's keyed, so that you must "activate" your scanner to have it work with the software
- The software converts the raw scan data into a 3D model, fills the inevitable scan holes and performs basic editing, making it capable of producing a printable 3D model
The Sense is priced at USD$399 and is available now. Note that this price is fantastically less than MakerBot's Digitizer, which is priced at USD$1550. We'll have to wait for samples to see the difference in scan quality.
However, the Sense is handheld and you can use it to scan objects much larger than you could place on MakerBot's turntable device.
We haven't yet seen the Sense in action, but it is likely sufficient for most users. If it uses the same hardware as the Kinect, the scans are probably insufficient for professional use. But the Sense will solve a major problem for Cubify and other 3D printer manufacturers: how to find great 3D models for printing. With the Sense you just make them yourself; no need for 3D modeling software.