3D Scanning and Lighting

By on November 11th, 2013 in Ideas

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MakerBot recently issued some tips and instructions on how to best use their new Digitizer 3D scanner, with a focus on lighting. We’ve been fiddling with 3D scanners in the lab and have to agree: lighting is critical. 
Regardless of the scanner used, be it MakerBot’s, a cheap Kinect or a USD$50K scanner, lighting is perhaps more important than the choice of scanner. 
One problem we’ve encountered many times is the need for consistent lighting in all directions. When capturing color information (say while using 123D Catch), your camera’s exposure  may vary as you move about the subject. Similarly, lighting effects may affect your turntable scan as surfaces are exposed to different lighting. 
It is difficult to arrange the perfect lighting setup, short of effectively building a photo studio. However, there’s one way to get decent lighting that’s pretty easy: 
Go outside on a cloudy day. The light will be bright but diffuse and from all directions. 
Just make sure it’s not raining. 
Or nighttime. 

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!