What is a 3d Scanner & How does it work – 2024 Guide

In the past, only engineers and scientists were used to transfer the form and shape of an object in a digital format. The 3d scanners were not available for ordinary people since they were large and expensive.

However, all that has changed with the growth in popularity of the 3d scanners and printing devices. With that, more people became interested in this type of technology which led manufacturers to make these devices available and more affordable for everyone.

If 3d scanning interests you, there are a couple of things you should know before the purchase. In this article, we’ll explain the 3d scanner and the mechanism of action of such a device. Keep reading, and learn all the techniques and possible implementations of these scanners.

3d Scanner Explanation


The method of capturing the exact shape and size of any object of your choice and turning it into a digital format is 3d scanning. This is done with a 3d scanner which is a device consisting of a light or laser emitter, sensors to get the returning signal, and software. There are different scanners and they all have their pros and cons depending on the situation you plan on using them for.

How does 3d Scanning work

Before you consider purchasing a scanner for yourself, you must understand how 3d scanning works.

With the initial scan using triangulation and calculation, the device gets information about the shape of the object and makes an image with multiple dots. This cloudy shape is further connected using meshing to come up with a model. For more precise work they are left to be complex, and for easier models, it is made significantly simpler.

After the meshing and coming up with the initial model, it is time for the device to register the textures of the object. This is done through another scan where the textures are being connected to the mesh where every pixel holding a U and V value is registered and appropriately colored. Because every scanner is working with some form of light, most of them come with a flash to ensure proper lighting.

It takes a couple of scans to come up with a finished model. Every direction of the object needs to be scanned without leaving gaps. After the scans, it is time for everything to be aligned and registered. Everything scanned gets layered and combined into a single model that has all the structural characteristics of the object examined.

Check 3d-scantech.com to find out more about how these scanners work.

Scanning methods

To determine what type of scanner you need, it is best to learn about the various types of scanning methods and techniques. They are working differently, and that is why each is better for different occasions.

Touch-based scanning

The first scanning method is by mounting the examined object using fixators or on a plate. After that, the scanner is softly touching the object and the software is registering where the touch was to determine the shape and size of the item. This is the best scanner for objects that are reflective or transparent since light does not go well with them.

Scanning with lasers

There are two kinds of laser 3d printers. The first type is by using a laser to determine the shape and size using trigonometric equations. It displays laser dots and lines which get registered back using the scanner’s sensors. The models have great resolution and make every object easier to be mapped. However, they are mostly used for environmental scans.

The second type is by using a pulsating laser to calculate the time of the beam returning to the scanner’s sensors. This method does not use trigonometric calculations, but there is a mirror that points the returning laser to the sensor for a complete three-sixty degrees of the model’s shape. This method is great for scanning large objects but is slower than all of the other scanning techniques.

Scans with structuring light

Another scanning technique that uses trigonometric calculations is scanning using structuring lights. The scanner displays a pattern of light structure on top of the object. Using the cameras on the device, the pattern is recorded and coordinate lines are analyzed to determine the shape of the object.

This is one of the quickest devices that offer a great resolution of the models which makes it great for models people. However, it is not suitable for outdoor use since the natural light affects the results of the scans.



This method is the best for capturing great scenery such as fields and forests. Instead of lighting, the model is being done in a series of pictures using special photography. The software of photogrammetry combines the pictures with overlapping to create a smooth model.

In addition, the software is using trigonometry calculations to come up with precise information about the distance, angle, and all the structural characteristics of the examined object. However, when the scans are done during bad weather, the results might have lower quality.

Possible uses

To see how widespread the 3d scanners are in various industries, we prepared a shortlist of fields where you can that device to build a career.

3d scanners are an inseparable factor of the entertainment industry. Since it makes real-life objects quickly transferred into a digital format, you can see how important they are. Instead of losing time in creating a video game item from scratch, they simply scan and adjust it.

In the medical field, 3d scanners are used to scan parts of our bodies so prosthetics can be made. They offer higher precision and can simply replace a part of the extremity we miss. In addition, they are used in echo sonography to create 3d models of our organs for a better visual interpretation. In forensics, they are great to present the crime scene and help in solving cases quicker.

In architecture and engineering, the 3d scans are usually used to analyze large buildings and help in taking better measurements. Doing these scans is surely faster than creating them from scratch in the CAD programs.

With such various applications, 3d scanners are only going to rise in popularity. In addition, we cannot forget about the chances they offer to creative individuals. They are now affordable and practical, so every interested person can manage to try them out.