How to get started with 3d Scanning to scan objects and 3D print them

3D scanning is easy

When I got started with 3D printing, yes I said 3D printing and not 3D scanning (Because I started 3D printing way before using 3D scanner), You have these online hub website where people could download objects made by someone else (Really a community type of website) and share it there ( That was cool at the beginning but what if I wanted to go a bit further. What were my options

Looking a bit further and talking with others in the community, I discovered that you could use a 3D modeling software to draw your objects (precisely what those people did and then shared it on the community hub website). But we'll talk about 3D modeling in another article and also through some tutorial. Here is a video on it:

3D scanners


Or we could use a 3D scanner. Back in the day, it the was really the opening of the open-source model for 3D printing, so the environment around it was not quite developed. I meant by that, things were not cheap. So I want and have to buy a portable 3D scanner. It costed me around $350. Serious money there you say for tinkering. lol

From there, I had to install a software that came with it in the box and I could more or less scan all type of small and medium object.

3D scanning app

There was also 3D scanning app (on smartphone usually by big tech names. You need to take a bunch of pictures all around the object (about 30 or more) and put some markers ( Newspaper or magazines around) so the algorithm can calculate depending of the side of the image. A bit of a story by itself. lol

Microsoft Kinect


Yes yes, the Kinect from Microsoft were used and is still used to scan object. It's because it has a Infrared and depth sensor inside allowing you digitize a object being at the front of the camera. You had to download a software to be able to rendering the final result. I Personally did not find it the result very high in quality.

But it's been a couple of years now, things have changed even with the smartphone applications. Sometimes not for the better since you don't have that many choices with the apps, specially about the numbers available on the market, their quality and the fact that they are free or not. Let's talk about it.

3 steps to get started with 3D scanning

Things have changed a lot on how things have been done to 3D scan an object. And we'll see the main difference from the previous app.

You need to know that there are a lot of them applications on the app store and for some of them you need to pay. I will help you choose one that is free that you can test at home and even show your kids how to use them since a part of this website is also dedicated to them. Not the best, but it can do the job if you have a bit a patience ( It's free, come on!!! ;-)))

Some of them have specialized such as for medical, some need a subscription, some offer a 3D printing service with it where you can easily have a 3d model deliver at home. They can be use to create model for Augmented Reality (A.R) and the list is long.

  • To get started, go to your app store whether you have an Android phone or a Apple devices with iOS (One last thing, you can use them on smartphones and tablets). Look for the following app (3DSCANN) and install it.

  • When done take a couple of pictures all around the object you want to modelize. As much as possible to have a better rendering.

  • Then click on "Make" to process the rendering and have the 3D model

Here is a quick YouTube video of the process.

Watch it on your computer

If you want to watch on your computer by downloading the file on it. You can used a software called Meshlab to see the rendering. You may have diverse extension depending of the method you used (ply, stl, obj, etc).

Go to "'' then download to software. It allows you to see the nice rendering. But I will make an article specially for this software in the future. ;-)

What to avoid?

  • Be careful of the light when using those 3D scanners. Some of them use Infra-red sensor (if using a portable 3D scanner.

  • Make sure to take a lot of picture to have the more precise 3d rendering possible on all possible angles ( When using a system working with pictures).

  • Make sure you use them in a certain range. If you are too close to the object, you may not see it on your screen when trying to scan. Some scanners really have a distance that needs to be respected for good results. Otherwise you may have weird rendering. Lol

  • Make sure to move at the right speed when moving your scanner or smartphone around the object. If you move too slowly or too fast, the software can lose the synchronization. In that case, you need to restart the the 3D scanning from the beginning. The good plan if to keep an eye on the screen to see what speed works better.

  • Depending of what you are looking, some options for the app are blocked. And you may need to pay for them to access them. It's is up to you of course to use those options or not.

  • Some apps are at their first version and you may have some freezing and bugs in them

Depending of your choice, you may want to choose an 3D scan application that does the job on the cloud or within the smartphone. In the last case, all the image treatment is done on the phone and may affect the battery and the speed.

What to do with the 3D file?

When you have the rendering, you have various choices on what you can do with it:

  • You can 3D print it ( I will make a tutorial on 3D printing with more details on that)

  • You can edit it with a 3D editing software.

  • Use the 3D model in some type of Virtual Reality Game or environment

  • Or just keep the file to visualize your self in 3 dimension


In conclusion, 3D scanning has became accessible for everyone today. Depending of the quality you are looking for as well, you can just use your smartphone, use a portable scanner or even a professional scanner. The rendering are pretty neat but you may have some bugs, it may be really slow.

Depending of your goal, you may buy a app or use a professional 3D scanner ( portable or not) with prices starting round $200-300 and reach 10 of thousand of dollars if not more depending of the field.

If you ever try it, please share it in the comments at the bottom of the page with the rest of the community and let us know your thoughts about the article or if I missed anything.

Free STEM online classes

If you have any questions on this topic, send me an email at the following :

Classes will be available for free on Saturdays at that same time to introduce your children to STEM on coding and video game creation at the moment. More to come with the coming months (robotics, 3d modeling, coding, crafting, python coding, and more). So your children can enjoy the STEM activities like they were playing at home with their toys

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