Why budget 3D scanners are not suitable for professional tasks

    How to correctly choose and buy a 3D scanner to solve professional problems? Why can budget devices be a costly mistake?

    Every year, sites such as Pinshape and 3Dprint.com publish guidelines for choosing the best budget 3D scanners available on the market, many of which are for amateur use. But what about high-quality 3D scanners for industrial and professional tasks?

    Creaform HandySCAN 3D is one of the most advanced solutions in the market of hand-held professional 3D scanners.

    Can insufficient lighting in such manuals of 3D scanners of the metrological classlead to the fact that engineers and designers will use budget 3D scanners to solve their professional problems? This article is intended to supplement such guidelines and explain why the use of budget 3D-scanners in professional activities can lead to costly consequences in the further technological chain.

    Engineers and designers who need professional 3D scanning features but who believe they can get the same results using a cheap scanner will be disappointed.

    Factors that determine the price of an industrial 3D scanner

    1. Engineers and designers need a high-precision 3D scanner to ensure that the result matches the project exactly. A deviation of just 0.01 mm can result in rejection of the product.
    2. They also need high resolution to ensure accurate positioning. If the data is not correctly positioned, aligned, or integrated, the result is similar to scanning under unstable conditions.
    3. In addition to accuracy and resolution, industrial 3D scanners also have other features: speed can reduce the time of digitizing an object and increase the speed of data collection and transmission.
    4. Due to the versatility of the device, you can scan various products regardless of their material, shape, color or size.
    5. Finally, ease of use determines the quality of work and the results obtained.

    Using 3D scanners that do not have these characteristics, engineers and designers risk getting poor scan results and false data, which, in turn, can jeopardize the projects they are working on and their own career.

    The difference between industrial and budget 3D scanners

    Metrological class 3D scanners are designed so that engineers and designers can solve their professional tasks, while budget devices are more suitable for use in the non-industrial field, especially if accuracy is not critical.

    Inexpensive 3D scanners are ideal for amateurs, for everyday use, while high-tech scanners are aimed at professionals and allow them to obtain effective and accurate results.


    industrial application Industrial application

    Professional 3D-scanner Creaform Go! SCAN 50 performed setting the scanning and subsequent processing for 5 minutes and 42 seconds, whereas in an inexpensive device, this process took 35 minutes and 20 seconds.

    Practical comparison of two 3D scanners

    Below are the results of comparative tests of two portable devices for scanning objects up to 50 cm - an inexpensive scanner based on white light technology and a Goa SCAN 50 3D scanner from Creaform. At first glance, many of the parameters of these scanners seem comparable.

    Moving parts

    1. The design of an inexpensive 3D scanner includes a flash lamp as a light source, the device must be cooled with a fan. In addition to making the scanner quite noisy, moving parts are an important source of potential malfunction and will need to be replaced as a result.
    2. Go! SCAN 3D scanners, just like other technologies made by Creaform, are solid state, which means that they do not use moving parts. This minimizes the risk of malfunction and guarantees the longest possible period of reliable use.


    1. The viewing device of a budget scanner quickly overflows, which makes it confusing and difficult to use. Only the last 50 last frames read are also displayed.
    2. Go! SCAN 50 offers superior real-time visualization.


    1. An unprofessional scanner manufacturer claims that recalibrating their scanners does not require special equipment and recommends that users recalibrate the scanner by using the wall as a flat surface. However, the wall can in no way be considered a reference plane.
    2. The Go! SCAN 50 comes with an exceptionally stable and reliable instrument that guarantees maximum performance by performing a simple recalibration procedure.


    1. Inexpensive scanners are known for losing tracking during 3D scanning , which makes the process extremely complicated and tedious. If tracking is lost, the user can only start a new session or start over.
    2. IN VXelements by Creaform have very powerful tracking capabilities. This makes it almost impossible to lose tracking when scanning a part using Go! SCAN.

    Adding Additional Data

    1. If discontinuity occurs, the user of the budget scanner should quickly look through the source data, identify the failure frame, split the sequence in this section, and then switch to the manual alignment mode of the two sequences. This process should be performed every time a discontinuity occurs.
    2. Go! SCAN 50 offers to continue the scanning function (instead of manual alignment), which makes it possible to continue scanning from the point selected by the user, the last mounted 3D frame, known texture features or any known mounted target applied to the part.

    The result obtained on a professional 3D scanner

    The result obtained on a budget 3D scanner


    1. The ability to use target positioning can be offset by the lack of part geometry. A cheap scanner will have to use a workaround and simulate the geometry using external objects or simulate the texture with colored stickers.
    2. Go! SCAN 50 can use texture information for positioning (for example, virtual positioning of a target) in a more reliable way, which at the same time makes it more accurate and easy to use.

    Workflow Comparison

    1. The automated workflow offered by Vxelements saves a lot of user time and energy.
    2. Since a conventional scanner does not align data and generates combined results in real time, the user must go through several steps to create a mesh model. Calculations at some of these stages take a very long time (20-30 minutes or more), and the user will have to go through this process to find out if it is necessary to collect more data for scanning.

    Comparison of the workflow for a typical scan

    Both devices were used to 3D scan the sculpture (800 mm) at a resolution of 2 mm. Go! SCAN 50 performed tuning, scanning, and subsequent processing in 5 minutes 42 seconds, while its “opponent” took 35 minutes 20 seconds. Thus, it takes 30 minutes more to complete and export a scan using an unprofessional scanner, while using Go! SCAN 50 takes about 7 times less time.


    Scanning a 900 mm ball tip with 38 mm spheres and a 1000 mm ball tip with 50 mm spheres revealed that Go! SCAN 50 is 2-3 times more accurate than an inexpensive scanner. The Go! SCAN 3D scanner showed clearly higher reliability: the standard deviation is 4-5 times lower.

    Conclusions: The Right 3D Scanner for Professionals

    As expected, the Go! SCAN 50 3D scanner outperforms the layman in all respects. It is faster, more accurate, easier to use and provides higher quality data.

    Thus, 3D scanning professionals need better quality solutions than amateurs and semi-professionals. The reason is simple: you have to pay for quality. One cannot expect that a professional 3D scanner will cost as amateur equipment and at the same time offer metrological class characteristics.

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