3D Laser scanning has been around since the 60’s which raises the question as to why the mainstream markets have not really seen an emergence of the technology until recent years. True, there have been companies which have used the technology for manufacturing purposes, but the 3D scanner has remained somewhat dormant until recently. In a report posted on MarketWatch, it was that the 3D Scanner Market is due to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.8% between 2017 and 2023. October 14, 2016, Airbus added $15 billion to the 3D printing industry. Clearly, there has been growth, but why?
Availability has shifted the market to growth
Perhaps the growth in the market has something to do with the abundance of desktop 3D Scanners currently available. MakerBot, CADScan, Daemon3D print, and EinScan-S are just a few of the brands which offer an affordable 3D scanner. It is due to the availability and affordability of these scanners that the market has grown.
Additionally, the size and the improved functionality of the desktop 3D Scanner has played an important role in the market growth. While, in the past, the market has been dominated by the larger models, smaller 3D Printers, that can also serve as a 3D Scanner (such as the Da Vinci all-in-one), have emerged. Not only can the independent artist print his or her models, but that individual has the means of importing data into the computer for a wide range of purposes. Additionally, software, such as Zbrush has maximized the 3D artists potential to scan in and then manipulate data as they see fit. The combination of 3D scanning as well as the software has made the limitations of 3D artistry virtually limitless.
High levels of details
While the Commercial 3D Scanner has been used in manufacturing in order to capture detailed information, the independent and freelance artists, engineers, and game developers are finding that the level of detail which is available from even a hand-held 3D Scanner more than meets their need. Thisn be proven when looking at the free software of smoothie-3D. While the software amazingly allows you to make 3D Designs out of 2D photos, the results are rudimentary at best.
When using the method of photogrammetry, the computer is using 2D information to try to make a 3D product. However, when a 3D scanner is used, the data uses LIDAR or Laser Imaging Detection and Ranging. Due to this, detailed 3D information can be captured on existing models (physical) and that information can be transferred digitally. Software developments have improved on the import and data reading functionalities, as well as increased the polygon counts which they can effectively manage. This, in turn, has allowed for ultra-high polygon models to be captured and 3D CAD designs from those captures to be produced.
Personal Control and Creations
When coupled with a 3D Printer, affordable 3D Scanners have opened the doors for a whole new sub revolution of hobbyist and tinkerers to personally tweak, print, and then re-tweak a part until they are fully satisfied. For example, when a person wishes to make a functional robot, the parts and the movement is essential to the overall output. By having the capabilities to print the individual parts, test those parts against the assembly, and then if needed to scan in the part and tweak it, that person has more control of their original vision.
Those who are not oriented to manufacturing have found the 3D scanner to be an asset to their development, be it gaming or otherwise. Taking a figurine and scanning the model into a 3D program, eliminates the need for hours of 3D development, allowing for the developer to tweak the model, rig it, and implement the model into the game.
Such is the ease of use that the market has increased. As game development, entrepreneurship, and innovation from the individual business grows, so will the need for 3D scanners, printers, and such technology.
Professional Remodeling options
In the 60s and 70s 3D scanning was a new thing. And while the technology has advanced, it has not been affordable for the local business man or woman to have such a device. Yet, in recent years, High quality 3D Scanners are well within range for the sole proprietary and small businesses. Capabilities of these business are opening areas where previously the expense was too great. For example, a classic car restorer can take an intake valve which is no longer produced, scan it with their 3D Scanner and using a metal 3D printer, replicate the part. While before they would need to search around to find the replacement, now the company can manufacture the part in-house saving the customer time (searching for this part) and money (the cost of the original part).
What can we expect from 3D Scanners?
3D laser scanners, when used independently, have a low impact in the 3D world. They are a means of capturing and relating data. Yet, when the scanner is combined with a 3D printer (Desktop or Commercial) and software, the creative process is expedited and costs for re-engineering the products is reduced. Those who are watching the market should expect to find more 3D printers and scanner combinations. The market, which is driven by the detail a scanner can capture, will surly see a rise in the resolution of their 3D Scanners, be it desktop or commercial. Hopefully this is coupled with a drop-in cost to make 3D Scanning accessible to even more people. It is a growing market that will continue to grow, especially in this age of digital media and technology.