3DMakerpro has just released a new 3D scanner, the Mole.
While there are plenty of smartphone apps that can act as 3D scanners, these tend to be less geometrically accurate, in spite of their convenience.
For those requiring more precision 3D scans, dedicated hardware is required, and that’s exactly what the Mole is designed to do.
It’s a rather small device, unlike some of the more bulky (and expensive) handheld 3D scanning systems, and can easily be operated on a tabletop.
How precise is the Mole? The specifications say the device can capture geometries with a resolution between 0.05 and 0.10 mm — that is incredibly small, and pretty much the same resolution as the best 3D printers on the market. This precision is quite a bit better than most of the competing 3D scanners on the market.
Unlike some dedicated 3D scanners that use optical lasers to sense geometries, the Mole uses near-infrared light that is far safer. As such, there is no need to wear protective gear when operating the Mole.
One of the key features of the Mole is versatility in different environments and subject conditions. Typical 3D scanners have much trouble capturing the geometry of very dark, transparent or reflective objects, mainly because their optical light is scattered or absorbed. However, the Mole’s use of NIR light offers far better results, and 3DMakerpro said the Mole can even operate in both full sunshine and dark environments.
Some professional 3D scanners require reflective markers to be temporarily applied to the subject. These aid in 3D tracking, but are, frankly, a bit of a pain to place on the subject. The good news here is that the Mole does not require markers as its 3D tracking is sufficient to handle most situations.
Color textures can also be captured by the Mole with an optional add on, and during processing they can be applied to the surface of the generated 3D model. The color textures can make captures extremely realistic.
The Mole operates in two modes: turntable and handheld.
In turntable mode, the Mole is mounted on a small tripod (included with the Mole), and directed at a small rotating turntable (also included with the Mole.) Small objects can be placed on the turntable and scanned as they rotate. This is particularly convenient if a number of small objects are to be scanned.
It’s possible to scan the same subject more than once in different orientations to ensure all sides are captured. Later, the JMStudio software can be used to join these scans together to prepare a complete 3D model of the subject.
In handheld mode, the Mole comes off the tripod and must be carefully aimed by the operator along all the surfaces of the subject. This requires a bit of practice, but can produce excellent results. Handheld mode also allows easy scanning of larger items that would not fit on the turntable, although you must keep aware of the length of the cable connecting the Mole to the PC running the software.
However, I’ve learned that 3DMakerpro intends on releasing an accessory, “3DMakerpro Connect” alongside the retail version of the Mole. This will provide automatic stabilization with a handheld gimbal. This is unique feature among handheld 3D scanners, as far as I know. The accessory also apparently allows 3D scanning to take place without a connection to the PC, making the device far more useful.
The Mole comes with a software tool to drive the hardware and process scanned results. I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again now: the software is often the most important component of any 3D scanning system.
I’ve frequently found 3D scanning software to be pretty complex to learn and use. However, in this case, 3DMakerpro has taken steps to make the user interface a bit more friendly. That could be quite important for those new to 3D scanning, which is sometimes a challenge to get started with most software.
The Mole will be available at 3DMakerpro, and while the pricing is still not yet known, it is sure to be one of the lowest cost 3D scanning options on the market.
What is 3DMakerpro? They are a Shenzhen-based company, founded in 2015, specializing in 3D scanning equipment, and their goal is to provide consumer-friendly systems. The Mole seems to fit that goal.
The Mole has some intriguing specifications and capabilities, and we are currently performing a hands on test of the device. We will have a review of the Mole posted on Fabbaloo soon.
If you’re looking for a very capable desktop and handheld 3D scanner, you should check out the Mole.