I’m looking at what appears to be a very interesting handheld 3D scanning option: the Calibry.
The device is made by Thor3D, who are a Moscow-based startup focused on 3D scanning. According to their website, they now have around 50 “engineering and mathematicians” on the job.
Structured Light 3D Scanning
The Calibry uses the structured light approach, where an object is repeatedly illuminated with a matrix-like pattern of light. This light is reflected off the object and onboard cameras & software interpret the twisted pattern into a 3D model. You need only swing the scanner around the object to capture all of its geometry.
The Calibry is interesting because of some unique features that I would love to have had on other handheld 3D scanners I’ve used.
3D Scanner Screen
The main feature I see is that on the scanner itself there is a screen showing the status of the current scan operation. While you might think this is an obvious feature, many other handheld 3D scanners do not have a screen on the scanner.
Why is this important? It’s because when you don’t have a screen you have to look at the attached PC (almost all handheld 3D scanners must be attached to a PC running specialized software during scanning operations) to see where you are pointed.
Yes, you can guess where you are pointed, but in order to ensure you capture all of the geometry you have to look at a screen. The screen will show you what geometry has previously been captured, and you can determine what needs to be done next.
It’s incredibly awkward to try to crane your neck around to look at a screen in the opposite direction while trying to hold a 3D scanner steady. The presence of the onboard screen will immensely ease the process of handheld 3D scanning.
Difficult 3D Scanning Subjects
Another feature the Calibry is apparently capable of is the ability to capture surfaces difficult to capture with other devices. They say:
“Sharp edges, black & shiny objects, and fur & hair are no longer a problem.”
Those are indeed terrible problems with every 3D scanner I’ve used. Hair in particular is problematic because it’s just too small. Shiny surfaces confuse 3D scanners because the light is reflected weirdly and that messes up the structured light analysis. And of course, black is bad because by definition black doesn’t reflect much light, limiting the source data for the 3D scanner.
You can see how to operate the Calibry 3D scanner in their short video:
The Calibry 3D scanner has the ability to capture 30 frames per second, and each frame will contain some 3M points. This corresponds to how rapidly you can move the 3D scanner in 3D space during scanning.
Calibry Scanning Modes
Another very interesting feature is the scanner’s ability to use three different modes for capture:
Geometry, where the in-progress scanned geometry is used to “register” the current location in 3D space of the scanner
Texture, where the background colors and contrasty edges are used to locate the 3D scanner’s position
Markers, where reflective “dots” are pasted on and around the subject to help orient the 3D scanner
This is extremely useful because many 3D scanners require the use of a specific method only and aren’t very flexible to adapt to different 3D scanning scenarios.
3D Scanning Daytime
The 900g Calibry 3D scanner is designed to capture objects of medium to large size, from around 10cm to 10m in size. In one of their videos I saw them attempting to 3D scan an automobile, which would fit into that envelope. However, they were doing so in the dark.
The reason for this is that in daytime sunlight would overwhelm the relatively dim structured light presentation and thus the Calibry would not get much input data. Best to use this device indoors in controlled light conditions.
Calibry 3D Scanner Price
Finally, there’s the price. The Calibry 3D scanner is priced at only €4,990 (US$5,575), which is a great deal less than many competing professional handheld 3D scanners. It even comes bundled with software to prepare and process the captured 3D model.
If you’re seeking an inexpensive professional handheld 3D scanner, you might want to look at the Calibry 3D scanner.