The 3D printing revolution has come, and it’s time for 3D scanning to follow. The CowTech Ciclop is a RepRap 3D scanner with a large scan volume, simple, yet elegant design, and a disruptive price point that blows any other laser scanner out of the water. The user prints the plastic parts on their own printer in any color and resolution they choose, and can assemble the scanner in less than 30 minutes. Then, simply take any object you want to replicate, set it on the 200mm laser cut acrylic turntable, and start scanning. We wanted to make sure our product was usable for anyone who owns a 3D printer, so we meticulously designed our parts for a print bed volume of only 115mm x 110mm x 65mm (4.5 x 4.3 x 2.6in) so they can be produced on even the smallest of printers.
How It Works
Laser scanners are a very common type of 3D scanner that use a pair of line lasers thatlash in succession in combination with a camera and a rotating turntable. As the lines flash on the object, they trace the outline of the object in red light. The camera then picks up the location of the laser lines in 3D space, converting those lines into hundreds of thousands of points, and as the turntable rotates, every side of the object is scanned into a cloud of points, which can then be stitched together to form a mesh that replicates the surface of the object with up to 0.5mm precision.
3D printed model lion, 0.2mm resolution, PLA, Prusa i3
The term 3D scanner is a bit of a misnomer. Technically, most 3D scanners are actually point cloud generators. The scanner itself is a tool to make a .PLY file, or a point cloud, made up of hundreds of thousands of points that represent the geometry of the object. The typical user will want to convert this point cloud to an .STL file, which can easily be printed on a 3D printer.
Once you have a digital 3D file of the part, the possibilities are endless. The CowTech Ciclop uses Horus, software developed by BQ for their version of the scanner. Unfortunately, Horus doesn't support direct .STL exports at this time, but this feature may be developed in later versions of the program. Fortunately, there are many options for post processing programs that can stitch the point clouds together into a printable file. These include Meshlab, Cloudcompare, Netfabb, Blender, and more. We recommend Meshlab and Cloudcompare, and provide detailed documentation with the scanner on how to use these programs.
The CT Ciclop scanner is a fully open source Rep Rap project, and part files and details on how to build your own can be found in the downloads section of our website.
All laser scanners can struggle with objects that are very black, very shiny, or furry, as the laser doesn't register properly with the camera. The CowTech Ciclop, is designed for experienced users who can familiarize themselves with different software programs in order to use the scanner and get high quality outputs from it.
We like to think of a 3D scanner like a video camera. A nice camera gives you the tools to take great pictures and videos, but without post production work in a video editing or photo editing program, you will likely be disappointed in the end result.