Are you looking for the best 3D scanner? This article contains a list of the seven best options to consider when purchasing a 3D scanner. 

3D printing, also referred to as additive manufacturing, entails creating 3-dimensional physical objects (by adding material layer by layer) from digital models using a 3D scanner. 3D printing technology works in different industries, such as manufacturing, architecture, and custom art and design.

You can use it to design and make jewelry, motor vehicle parts, sculpture, and human body parts like the skull, nose, and ear. Ideally, 3D printing technology lets you create anything you can think.

However, there are different types of 3D scanners out there that it can be almost overwhelming to choose one that aligns with your needs. You’ll need to take the time to scour the internet to find the best one for you. Luckily, we’ve done the heavy lifting for you. Here is a detailed list of the best 3D scanners to consider.

Comparison Table

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Best 3D Scanner Choices FAQs

3d printer

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Below are some common questions about 3D scanners.

1

What is a 3D scanner?

​A 3D scanner is an innovative machine that can make copies of any real object in 3 dimensions. Ideally, the device collects data (shape, and appearance) from the real object to construct digital 3D versions of the object. The digital 3D objects can make other real 3D objects for various uses, such as medical, manufacturing, geographic discovery, artifacts, and archiving arts.

​2

What is a 3D scanner used for?

  • ​Pharmaceutical preparations: Some surgical procedures are so complicated that they need initial planning to succeed. 3D scanning can aid in surgical planning. How? The organ or part going through operation goes through 3D printing and scanning. The surgeon uses the real 3D printed image to familiarize with that part or organ to ensure a successful surgery.
  • ​Part restoration: Sometimes a model part may be required but it’s unavailable, or the company manufacturing it is no longer in operation. The section goes through 3D scanning and printing, and a real clone produced to restore the required part.
  • ​Quality control: People want to know that the pieces they buy are in line with the specified tolerances. A 3D scanner can help. If the specifications are in line with the real part, then it’s of the right quality. A 3D scanner can produce a 3D version of a person.
​3

Is there any difference between a 2D scanner and a 3D scanner?

Yes, there are differences between a 2D scanner and a 3D scanner. 2D scanners can create digital copies of pictures or documents. However, they can also create physical objects to make digital 2D images. 3D scanners scan physical 3D objects to create digital 3D models.

The other difference is that 2D scanners use light to scan pictures, documents or artifacts, while 3D scanners use reflected laser to scan 3D objects.

​4

Should you buy a new or used 3D scanner?

3D scanners are expensive. It takes about 9 to 12 months to manufacture a new 3D scanner. That means they can be out of reach for those with shoestring budgets. If you need a 3D scanner and you have a limited budget, you can go for a used 3D printer.

The downside to buying used 3D printers is that they don’t come with a warranty, which means when they experience a technical glitch, you can’t contact the manufacturer to repair or exchange it for a new one. Regardless of whether you buy a new 3D scanner or a new one, do your due diligence to avoid cons.

Overall Price Range of 3D Scanners

The price of a new 3D scanner ranges from $$ to $$$$

The 7 Best 3D Scanner Choices

3d scanner

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Here is a rundown of the best 3D scanners for creating physical models quickly

EinScan SP Desktop 3D Scanner with Professional 3D CAD Software

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he Next Engine 3D Scanner ULTRA HD is a top-of-the-range 3D scanner manufactured by Next Engine, a company based in the U.S. that deals with the production of Desktop 3D Scanners. This 3D scanner utilizes laser triangulation technology to scan real 3D objects to create digital 3D images for various purposes.

If you’re searching for a 3D scanner that can work with or without a turntable, this is a perfect choice. The 3D scanner projects rays of laser beams on to the physical rotating object to scan it and create a digital 3D image of it in a matter of seconds.

Features​​​​

  • ​Next Engine 3D Scanner ULTRA HD is a unique software with powerful algorithm to help you adjust the lighting and filter out background images for excellent scanning capabilities.
  • ​Ability to export images in different formats, such as OBJ, VRML, U3D, and STComes with intelligent polygon reduction capability to customize different file sizes 
  • ​Comes with intelligent polygon reduction capability to customize different file sizes
  • ​Has a rotating turntable for 360 degrees scans
  • ​Laser scanning technology to give you high definition scans
  • ​Comes with an electro-optical architecture system that utilizes algorithms and lasers for parallel scanning
  • ​The Scanner operates in 2 speeds; standard speed (90seconds per single scan), HD speed (slowest speed)

Pros

  • ​Easy to use because it easily adapts to any environment
  • ​Scan size flexibility, which means it allows you to scan just about anything without any limitations
  • ​You can do three types of scans a single scan, a bracket scan, and a 30-degree scan.
  • ​Color scanning capability
  • ​Scan accuracy of 0.005

Cons

  • ​It’s quite expensive 
  • ​It can’t scan small objects, such as miniatures and jewelry

Where to Buy 

You can buy EINscan 3D Scanner ULTRA HD from Amazon or eBay. 

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Shining 3D EinScan-Pro is a portable 3D scanner manufactured by Shinning 3D, a leading high-tech company based in China. It’s the newest version of the EinScan-Pro and comes with much-improved features and benefits.

Features

  • ​Uses structured lighting technology for high-quality 3D scans
  • Comes with two accessories; a camera that takes pictures or turntable that provides automated 3D scanning
  • ​The scanning unit features two cameras and a projector
  • ​Compatible with Windows 7, 8 and 10 operating systems

Pros

  • ​Portable (weights about 1.76 ‬lbs.)
  • ​Different output formats (OBJ, STL, PLY and ASC)
  • ​Comes with upgraded software, which translates to enhanced user experience, single-click data upload, and ease of sharing scanned data via the internet
  • ​Ability to scan different object sizes with different physical characteristics
  • ​Color scanning capability
  • ​Scanning accuracy of 0.05mm

Cons

  • ​Not recommend for outdoor use because the sun can affect the structured light
  • ​Expensive

Where to Buy 

You can buy this 3D scanner on Amazon or eBay. 

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DAVID Structured Light Scanner SLS-2 is a structured light 3D scanner that allows you to capture objects in 3 dimensions. The 3D scanner company based in Germany is famous for its quality scanners. The 3D scanner works with Windows 7, 8 XP, and Vista

Features

​The 3D scanner comes along with a camera with a top-quality lens; an LED video projector (with a unique lens for large focal range scans), tripod, sliding rail (for quick setup), calibration board (for multiple scan volume) and turntable. The USB drive comes with DAVID Pro 4 software.

Pros

  • ​Utilizes the structured light scanning technology to generated quality colored scans in a matter of seconds
  • ​Different output formats, such as STL, OBJ and PLY
  • ​High speed and high precision 3D scanning
  • ​Allows you to scan any object size
  • ​It’s pretty fast and accurate
  • ​It’s easy to use

Cons

  • ​Reports of software crashes
  • ​It’s expensive

Where to Buy 

You can by DAVID Structured Light Scanner SLS-2 on Amazon or Bay.

3D Systems SENSE2 3D SCANNER

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Artec Eva is one of the fastest 3D scanners out there. It’s by Artec 3D, a company with a record of accomplishment for the production of high-quality 3D scanners. It’s ideal for professionals and those who are in 3D printing to make money. It’s the bestselling handheld 3D scanner out there.

Features

  • ​Its battery powered, which means you can use it on the go. Even in places where there is no electricity
  • ​Comes with lithium-ion batteries
  • ​Compatible with Windows 7, 8, 10 and Vista
  • ​Features USB cable port
  • ​Three buttons; start recording, stop recording and pause buttons.

Pros

  • ​It’s fast, light and highly versatile
  • ​You don’t need any accessories to use this 3D scanner
  • ​Portable, which means you can go with it anywhere you want
  • ​You don’t need any targets or calibrations when using this 3D scanner
  • ​It can scan objects up to one meter away
  • ​Able to scan physical objects with shiny and black surfaces
  • ​It comes with a 2-year warranty, offering value for money
  • ​Ability to capture up to 16 frames per second
  • ​Different export formats, such as PLY, STL and OBJ

Cons

  • ​It’s expensive ($19,800)
  • ​It's costly to upgrade the texture capture

Occipital’s Structure Sensor

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When we talk about portable 3D scanners that can scan people and objects, Occipital’s Structure Sensor perfectly fits the profile. Occipital, a software startup based in the U.S., manufactures this 3D printer. It works for iPads, and it can capture an entire room and even lets you play with some enlarged reality games.

Occipital’s Structure Sensor is not like most 3D scanners that are contained units with moving cameras and spinning platforms. It attaches to your iPad and accesses a 3D scanner.

Features

  • ​It comes with a user manual to get you started on it
  • ​A lighting connector to attach the scanner to your iPad
  • ​Structure sensor bracket to connect the laser scanner to our iPad
  • ​A power cable to charge the 3D scanner
  • ​Calibrator to calibrate the sensors

Pros

  • ​It’s affordable compared to other 3D scanners
  • ​It offers excellent resolution at close range
  • ​Designed for Apple mobile devices, such as iPad, iPad Air, iPad Pro, and iPad Mini
  • ​It can scan virtually every size of the object
  • ​It’s a handheld 3D scanner, which means you can move with it anywhere you want to.

Cons

  • ​It’s not ideal for engineering and architecture
  • ​The further you are from the object, the lesser the resolution
  • ​It doesn’t have as many features as other portable 3D scanners
  • ​Not as easy to use as other 3D scanners

Where to Buy 

Grab this portable 3D scanner on Amazon. 

​The RangeVision Smart

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​RangeVision Smart is a top of the range 3D scanner manufactured by RangeVision, a Russian company that specializes in the production of structured-light 3D scanners. They are ideal for scanning objects at a distance of 4cm to 1 meter.

Features

  • ​Comes fitted with a projector and works with structured light
  • ​Equipped with two cameras for top quality pictures
  • ​It’s able to capture the texture and geometry of the objects
  • ​It comes with a scanner precision of 100 microns which is pretty awesome
  • ​It comes fully assembled with an LED projector, 2 USB cameras, a mounting structure to mount the camera and LED projector, USB cables and video cable, a tripod, USB flash drive with software, protective case, and an electronic key.
  • ​Designed for Windows 7, 8, and 10

Pros

  • ​The structured light technology offers accurate and detailed 3D scans
  • ​Ability to scan any object larger than 120 microns
  • ​Takes less time (12 seconds) to scan an object
  • ​It’s portable (Weights about 700 grams)
  • ​The fact that it comes assembled makes it easy to use
  • ​Offers different output formats, such as PLY, OBJ, and STL

Cons

  • Can’t scan glossy, black and mirror-like objects without initial preparations
  • ​New users will face challenges when using the software
  • ​The setup process is daunting 
  • ​The price is on the higher side

The scanning process might take long since the 3D scanner doesn’t come with a turntable. That means you’ll have to rotate the object manually after every scan.

Where to Buy 

You can buy RangeVision Smart 3D scanner from their site ‘’rangevision.com.’’ You’ll only need to enter your name, email address, country and type a small message and they’ll direct you on how to buy it.

MakerBot Digitizer Desktop 3D Scanner 

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People love this Digitizer by MakerBot because it’s pocket-friendly. The exciting part about Digitizer by MakerBot is that it comes already assembled to alleviate the hassle of having to set it up from scratch. Ideally, you can have this 3D scanner working in minutes.

Features

  • ​Comes with MakeWare software, which is simple to allow you to create high-quality 3D objects easily and fast
  • ​Has a large scan volume, allowing you to create physical objects of up to eight inches in diameter, and eight inches in height, as well as up to 3 kg in weight.
  • ​Multiscan technology lets users scan 3D objects from different angles to capture just about every part of the object.
  • ​Supports various operating systems, including Windows 7+, Linux, Mac OSX

Pros

  • ​Its ease of use and simple design makes it a favorite for those starting in 3D printing
  • ​It’s affordable ($799), which is why it’s one of the best-selling 3D printers out there. 
  • ​It comes already assembled, so you’ll only need minutes to set it up
  • ​It doesn’t require heavy appliance to function, saving you the cost of buying a heavy hardware
  • ​Allows you to make numerous scans in different angles
  • ​Features 1.3 megapixel CMOS camera for top quality images
  • ​Comes with a guide that walks you through how to use the 3D scanner
  • ​Has a power cable to charge the 3D scanner

Cons

  • ​It doesn’t come with the best scanning resolution
  • ​You need a desktop to run it
  • ​It’s a daunting task to design a pleasant  working environment

Where to Buy 

You can buy MakerBot Digitizer Desktop 3D Scanner from their official website ‘’makerbot.com. Alternatively, you can buy it from Amazon.

Verdict

If you’re looking for a 3D scanner that is affordable and offers the same capabilities as the high-end ones, then it’s a good idea to go with The Occipital’s Structure Sensor, which we feel is the best 3D scanner available today. However, if you’re looking to start a 3D printing business, then you’ll need a robust 3D scanner. It’s a good idea to go with the Artec Eva 3D scanner here.

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