How Do 3D Scanners Work

by Reh Farahm

3D Noncontact Active Laser Scanners

3D noncontact laser scanners use lasers and cameras to scan physical objects onto a computer by detecting millions of points on the objects. A scanner converts these points into data on an XYZ grid so that they form an image on a computer. It records the distance of objects from the scanner so they can be viewed in the same distance on the computer, in theaters and in other settings. Noncontact 3D scanners include triangulation scanners, time-of-flight scanners, conoscopic holography scanners and structured light scanners.

3D Noncontact Passive Scanners

Noncontact passive scanners are much cheaper and easier to use that active scanners. In photometric and silhouette systems, pictures are taken from different angles around an object. The images are then put together on a computer. In stereoscopic systems, two video cameras are used. Each is placed in a different position around the object, and the end result of this scanner can be combined into a 3D film.

3D Contact Scanners

3D contact laser scanners, the coordinate measuring machine for example (see Resources), use probes to transfer physical objects onto a computer. They have three arms (X, Y and Z) that probe an object and record the distance. The distance coordinates are then recorded onto a computer and converted into images. The probes can be light or lasers, but in contact scanners, they're always mechanical.

About the Author

Reh Farahm is a college freshman who has been writing since she joined her middle school newspaper. She currently continues to write monthly pieces for her university newspaper, and Demand Studios. She mainly writes articles on health, photography, and DIY home crafts.

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