How to Build Your Own 3D Scanner

Written by palmer owyoung
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How to Build Your Own 3D Scanner
You can use a laser pointer to build a 3-D scanner. (laser keyholder image by timur1970 from

A number of industries, such as film, architecture, model-making and photography, use 3-D scanning. Most people don't have access to professional 3-D scanners due to the costs involved. However, with the right tools and a bit of time, you can build your own 3-D scanner for a fraction of the cost.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Cardboard box larger than size A4
  • Laser pointer
  • 1 piece of A4-size bond paper
  • Printer
  • Box cutter
  • Webcam
  • Glue or tape
  • Object with a 90-degree angle

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  1. 1

    Download the free version of David-Laserscanner (see Resources). Install the program on your computer.

  2. 2

    Click on the desktop icon and open the program. Click "Start > David laserscanner > Print" to print the calibration document. This file comes as a PDF. It is used to measure the size of the object that you are scanning.

  3. 3

    Cut the document along the markers (these are guides for where to make the cuts).

  4. 4

    Fold the cardboard so it creates a 90-degree angle.

  5. 5

    Glue or tape the printed marker onto the centre of the cardboard.

  6. 6

    Position your webcam directly at the markers. A short distance is required so that all markers are visible.

  7. 7

    Click "Next" on the software and choose your webcam model. The next screen will show you how to calibrate the markers. Make the necessary adjustments so that the markers coincide with the red cross markers displayed on your computer software. Press "Calibrate Camera" to complete the process.

  8. 8

    Place the object you want to scan in the centre of the markers. Run the laser line pointer up and down across the object repeatedly. As you do this, the software will scan the areas the laser hits. This may take several minutes to complete. The software will produce a preview of the output to indicate progress.

  9. 9

    Click "Save" on the David scanner software once the scan is complete, to save your work.

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