Complete off the shelf 3D system

In just a short time, 3D modeling has entered every aspect of industrial and business life. Today’s 3D technology is used for a wide variety of applications including medical modeling, reverse engineering, quality inspection, gaming and animation. 3D scanning systems are often expensive high-end industrial systems that are limited to specific objects they scan.

3D3 Solutions’ HDI 3D Scanner and FlexScan3D Software

Responding to the market’s need for an affordable and scalable 3D scanning solution, 3D3 Solutions has developed the High Definition Imaging (HDI) 3D Scanner using a combination of white light technology, FLIR cameras, and consumer-grade projectors. The system comes with their proprietary 3D scanner software, FlexScan3D, which produces a digital 3D scan from physical objects in less than two seconds. Also, the FlexScan3D Software can be purchased separately for users and/or OEMs as a base for developing custom 3D scanning systems.

White Light Scanning 

White light scanning, also known as structured light scanning, is a form of non-contact scanning that measures the three-dimensional shape of an object using projected light patterns and a camera system. White light scanners are usually tripod-mounted and a fringe pattern is generated by the scanner's projector over the scan object. Within the scanning time, the fringe pattern is modified in width and phase and the 3D scanner extracts the 3D coordinates by calculating the returned patterns.  The camera(s) and the projector are connected by a micro-controller which controls the exact timing between projection and image acquisition.

Due to the repeatability of the readings, the accuracy of a white light scanner can be higher than laser scanners.  3D3 Solutions utilizes advanced cameras, throughput electronics, and faster processors to capture a scan with over a million points in less than two seconds. Due to their speed, white light scanning is especially useful in face and body scanning applications where people have difficulties staying still.

System Overview: Hardware and Software

The HDI 3D Scanner includes a capturing unit and FlexScan3D Software. The capturing unit includes a tripod mounting system for portability and is built around a projector and dual FLIR cameras. Depending on the scanner model, the built-in cameras are either dual 1.3 MP Flea2s running at 30 FPS or dual 2.0 MP Grasshoppers running at 30 FPS.  The HDI 3D Scanner has an adjustable field of view from 20 cm to 1.5 meters diagonal using interchangeable lenses.  Users are able to scan objects of different shapes and sizes ranging from the size of a coin to a car. The scanner produces a 3D model of a physical object by taking several scans from different angles.  FlexScan3D Software acquires the 3D data and performs mesh processing capabilities to create the 3D model. 

For users creating custom 3D scanners, the FlexScan3D Software interfaces directly with FLIR cameras (USB 3.1, GigE, FireWire or USB 2.0) and consumer-grade projectors. Users choose their preferred hardware depending on the required combination of speed, accuracy, and performance of their project.

For more advanced users such as engineering and development companies, FlexScan3D Software can be purchased separately to create custom 3D scanners for OEM applications. FlexScan3D interfaces directly with FLIR cameras (FLIR USB 3.1, GigE, FireWire or USB 2.0 cameras) and consumer-grade projectors to create a low-cost and flexible solution to white light 3D scanning. Users choose their preferred hardware depending on their required combination of speed, accuracy, and performance according to their project requirements.

Choosing the Right Camera and Vendor

3D3 Solutions had the interesting challenge to choose the right cameras for their own capturing device as well as a vendor to recommend to their customers who want to build custom 3D scanners.  The criteria included:

  • A range of high frame rate, high resolution cameras for capturing over 1 million data points in seconds
  • A range of global shutter cameras of standard sizes for easy interchange
  • Excellent customer service with fast turnaround times on orders
  • Cameras with flexible field of view for scanning different sized objects
  • Cameras with reliable hardware triggers for synchronization

A vendor supporting a range of interfaces was also important.  While FireWire is used with the HDI 3D Scanner, their customers who purchase FlexScan3D Software may need the cable length of GigE. As many applications connect directly to a laptop, the ubiquitous nature of USB 2.0 and USB 3.1 had to be supported.  With so many interfaces and cameras to support, a vendor with a standard SDK is critically important for reducing development time and easier maintenance.

“We went through a long process choosing cameras and FLIR came out on top because they offered excellent pricing for the level of performance required for high accuracy scanning,” explains President of 3D3 Solutions, Thomas Tong.  “Our recently released version of FlexScan3D includes support of FLIR’s USB 3.1 and GigE cameras.  We’ve experienced their outstanding customer support first-hand and know we can trust our customers to their care,”   adds Mr. Tong.

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