Creaform’s Large Scale Photogrammetry Solution

MaxSHOT 3D, a large scale metrology solution from Creaform

Creaform is one of the leaders in 3D scanning solutions, and we took a look at their new large scale solution.

The company is well known for their handheld 3D scanning devices, some of which we’ve used. Most of their devices use “active” processes. 

For example, their HandyScan line employs a pair of lasers to precisely illuminate a target. The rest of the system examines the distortions in the light pattern to develop a 3D model of the target. Similarly their GoScan series also illuminates and interprets light patterns, but instead of a laser it employs a structured light system. 

But Creaform’s new MaxSHOT 3D system doesn’t seem to use either. Instead of an “active” system, it uses what might be called “passive”: photogrammetry. 

The MaxSHOT’s method is to use a series of images taken from various orientations, and then calculate a point cloud based on how the visual elements shift in relation to each other from frame to frame. 

The switch to photogrammetry overcomes a challenge to Creaform’s prior technology: size. 

While it was possible to 3D scan larger items with their handheld equipment (we’ve even heard that someone actually 3D scanned the entire interior of a Boeing 747 with one once), it could take a very long time, as the entire surface would have to be “inspected” by the 3D scanner at relatively slow speeds. 

These devices are really designed to capture 3D models of small objects in very high levels of detail. That’s quite different than, say, wanting to capture a 3D model of a large vehicle at coarse resolution quickly. You could use a laser scanner to 3D capture that target, but it would take a while and provide far too much data to be useful. 

Enter the MaxSHOT 3D. It’s a handheld device specifically designed for 3D capture using photogrammetry. 

The handheld device is at its base a still image camera, but it includes a variety of interesting assists to ensure the photogrammetry is done correctly. 

 Applying temporary magnetic optical targets to a subject of a Creaform MaxSHOT 3D scan
Applying temporary magnetic optical targets to a subject of a Creaform MaxSHOT 3D scan

The system uses fixed optical targets that are magnetically attached to the subject, and these are detected by the MaxSHOT 3D’s on board lasers in much the same way as their previous 3D scanners. However, that’s used only to guide the system and provide basic 3D orientation information. 

 3D scanning with the MaxSHOT 3D. Note green laser target lighting
3D scanning with the MaxSHOT 3D. Note green laser target lighting

The lasers illuminate the target with either red, green or yellow light to indicate to the operator whether it is appropriate to snap an image. I wish other photogrammetry solutions had this feature!

The system combines that information with the optical data through images to develop the 3D models, which are intended to be used for metrology, checking whether the subject is within tolerances. Creaform says the volumetric accuracy is within 0.015mm, which is pretty tight for such a large-scale 3D scanner. 

We’re told the MaxSHOT 3D system is available for between €25-30,000 (USD$30-36,000) and might be a very useful item in a manufacturing shop. 

Via Creaform

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