Dear Desktop Engineering Reader:
Regular readers of the Pick of the Week know that I have this thing for scanners. Exact Metrology recently added Artec3D hand-held scanners to its line-up of metrology products. I think I'm in lust.
The Artec3D line has many attractions. Start with the way you use it: You simply grab it and move around your object of interest, scanning it at various angles. No mounts or markers. The Artec3D's software combines the scanned images into one image automatically.
I should mention here that the Artec3D comes in a couple of versions, each with variations for different work. The heaviest model is about 5 pounds; the lightest 3. One model looks like an audio speaker. The other reminds me of those neck pillows you see for sale in those in-flight catalogs inevitably stuffed into the pouch in the seat in front of you along with somebody else's crumpled napkins.
Anyway, the thing about the Artec3D Scanner is that it's almost a 3D camera. Now, I’ve got to admit that when I first got wind of the Artec3D, I was a bit stumped that it uses no markers and by what the company says it can do for about $15,000. It appears to me that they make this process about as simple to execute as possible, but how? So, I started snooping around, figuring the internal software had to be the trick. Half right. It's both hardware and proprietary software algorithms.
The Artec3D uses what the company calls a texture camera and a 3D sensor to capture the surface shape and texture simultaneously. Basically, what it does is project a structured light pattern on your object. Its sensors pick up pattern distortions and its algorithms use the distortion data to calculate the 3D coordinates of points. Points are the foundation of triangulated surfaces and, Bob's your uncle, you’re off to having a scanned image to work with in RapidForm, 3D Studio, or something.
So, what's in an Artec3D Scanner for you? Well, productivity for one. Simply scanning your object methodically with minimal prep work saves a lot of time. Two, the software that runs the Artec3D creates a single mesh of your scanned frames automatically, and the post-acquisition software seems very straightforward, both furthering productivity. Three, since it works like a 3D camera, you can scan moving images. That means opportunities, like medial applications, that you might not have considered previously. Four, by combining many images into one, you can scan in large objects, even complex ones. Finally, it looks like a lot of fun to use.
Take a look at the tutorial videos (silent but captioned and registration-free) linked from today's Pick of the Week write-up to see the Artec3D process and how straightforward it can be. I'll think you'll agree that the Artec3D Scanner is a good one to seriously consider.
Thanks, pal. -- Lockwood
Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering Magazine
Read today's Pick of the Week write-up