Artec 3D’s Experimental 3D Scan Automation System

By on December 17th, 2016 in research

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 Artec 3D's experimental robotic 3D scanning system
Artec 3D’s experimental robotic 3D scanning system

Handheld 3D scanner operators might find this interesting: an experimental robotic 3D scanning system. 

Artec 3D is a well-known maker of professional handheld 3D scanners. But there is a couple of issues with using handheld 3D scanners.

First, there is a human involved! Humans make mistakes. They move the 3D scanner too fast and detail might be lost. They might miss certain hidden areas on the scanned object. They may get tired of holding the 3D scanner in awkward positions for length periods. 

Secondly, humans cost money! There is a cost to having a human operator – even when they are not always providing optimum results as above. 

Finally, repeated 3D scanning operations is actually not a particularly exciting job to do. Sure, it’s fun the first time to capture an object, but imagine doing that all day long. Not Fun. 

Thus the act of 3D capture is a candidate for automation. And that’s what Artec 3D recently did with an experimental robotic system, as shown above. 

The idea is that the robot can accurately – and tirelessly – hold and move the 3D scanner to the best positions to scan objects repeatedly. All Day Long. 

The robot can even pick up an object and turn it over to capture details hidden on the bottom, or from a different angle. 

 Artec 3D's experimental robotic 3D scanning system
Artec 3D’s experimental robotic 3D scanning system

It’s an interesting approach, particularly for a handheld 3D scanner company: early 3D scanners were fixed devices and handheld operations was an innovation at one point. This development takes things back to a fixed station, but with more productivity and flexibility. 

There are a couple of challenges with this approach. 

First, there is the matter of programming the robot to scan particular objects. It’s possible to make a generic routine to capture a wider variety of objects, but how do you program the bot to, say, carefully turn over items it hasn’t seen before? 

Second, there is the cost of the robot itself. Robots are expensive and it seems to me that such a system would have to be applied to a long-term, repeated program of 3D scanning to be financially feasible. 

But if that’s the case, and if you already have a handheld 3D scanner on site, you might have a good option here. 

Via Artec 3D

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!