By Anthony J. Lockwood
Dear Desktop Engineering Reader:
I had my first exposure to the NextEngine 3D Scanner at SolidWorks World a couple of years back. This thing blew me away. It’s the perfect device for scanning in most of the stuff you really scan in, like parts. What’s really amazing is that you can get highly accurate, fully color, photo-quality scans. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
NextEngine is a portable scanner, just not in the traditional sense. You don’t need, for example, a moving crane to haul the 800-pound trunk that stows its arm and paraphernalia like you do with most portable scanners. You can put the NextEngine and its positioning device in a backpack and your laptop with a USB connection under your arm. And it has no articulated arm. Doesn’t need it. NextEngine uses an optical architecture, clever algorithms, and an array of lasers that scan in parallel.
Technically, you could use the NextEngine to scan in an airplane or the fat head of some professional Hollywood debutante. It has no pre-set size limits, and you can use NextEngine’s software to stitch together composites of large items. But where NextEngine really shines is scanning in normal sized stuff that drives you crazy scanning in with a typical scanner: an intricate medallion or the parts from a vintage car engine, for example. NextEngine gets these things scanned without you contorting yourself, in color, and with 0.005-inch accuracy.
Notice I said “intricate medallion.” Textures can drive scanners nuts. Not NextEngine. It comes with diffuse illuminators that give you shadow-free, full-color scans of photo quality. This also means that your scans, even of organic odd shapes, are clean. There are no annoying pops and spikes that take hours to edit out, making clean up and repair work minimal. And it’s fast too — 50,00 points per second.
The kicker is that NextEngine is $2495, compared with $20-$30K or more for typical portable scanning systems. That makes it fully rational to go to the next level and invest a similar amount in RapidWorks, which, to make a long story short, turns a scan into a SolidWorks file.
Which all sounds amazing, which is why today’s Pick of the Week write-up is a bit different than usual. It’s a brief example of how some smart guys used NextEngine to reverse engineer the water pump from a 1922 Bugatti. Lots of pictures for you. You’ll also find links to NextEngine, where you can access some demos, get more information on the NextEngine 3D scanner, and the like.
If you have anything to do with scanning, you really owe it to yourself to check out the NextEngine 3D scanner. It’s really quite impressive, even if you don’t need a derrick to move it around.
Thanks, Pal – Lockwood
Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering Magazine