While 3D printers are gradually becoming more popular, their possibilities are limited if you lack the skills to create custom 3D models. This has led to a surge in the development of user-friendly 3D software, as well as affordable 3D scanners that can digitize real world objects. Matterform's Photon 3D scanner is the latest and most affordable example to be launched via a successful crowdfunding campaign.
The Photon 3D scanner – which scans objects using a high definition camera and dual laser lines – is relatively small, so it can only handle objects up to 190 x 190 x 250 mm (7.5-inch diameter x 9.75-inch height). Matterform says that the scanner is user-friendly (requiring minimal set-up) and can scan objects in as little as three minutes. The scanned object data can then be output in the usual file formats (.STL, .OBJ, and point cloud .PLY), which can be imported for use on 3D printers or 3D modeling software.
Unfortunately the company didn't respond to queries requesting additional photos of scanning results, but as you can see in the limited gallery, the scan data doesn't appear to be quite as faithful as that generated by its competitors. Unlike the CADScan3D scanner, the Photon does not generate color data and only scans along the horizontal plane (which can result in incomplete data where the object occludes itself – note that they purposely didn't rotate the hat model because of its brim).
However, these compromises may be easier to swallow given that the Photon 3D scanner retails for US$440 – less than half the cost of the CADScan3D scanner. And, though no price has been announced for the Makerbot Digitizer, we're guessing the Photon will undercut it as well. After more than doubling the goal on crowdfunding site indiegogo in the first ten days, early adopters should get the first batch of Photons in July.
Meet the Photon 3D scanner's creators and see it in action in the video below.