How do you accurately measure a 3D object and put it into a design package like Solidworks? You might want to do this when restoring or rebuilding an obscure motorcycle or trying to create replacement parts or even designing something brand new. Perhaps you hand carved a piece that will fit but it still needs to get into the computer so you can transfer the data for machining. Up until this point, the process required expensive scanners not everyone had available or at the very least they were out of reach for most small shops.
NextEngine, of Santa Monica, California, working with SolidWorks, has created a desktop scanner that is nothing short of amazing. It plugs into your computer via the USB port, sits on your desk with a footprint of only 3.6 X 8.8 inches and will scan a 3D object you place on the auto positioner. There are two scan modes, macro and wide depending on the size of the object you are scanning. Macro is 5.1" X 3.8" while Wide is 13.5" X 10.1" or as they say, Coke can or shoebox size. Dimensional accuracy is +/- .005" in Macro mode and +/- .015" in Wide. It preserves the full color surface detail like a normal scan, showing anything you would see with your naked eye, it takes in the surface texture of the object with about a quarter million data points for small models after oversampling and optimization plus it immediately pulls the scan into SolidWorks where you can transform or modify the piece as desired.
If the scan modes aren't large enough, you can use composite mode to scan much larger objects because there is no box the objects have to fit inside. It works in normal room lighting, too, no special darkroom or other special background is required.
The price for all of this desktop wizardry? $2495. Do you see smiles all around? Initial shipments are already sold out, no surprise there, I would imagine this scanner will be found almost everywhere engineers and designers work in 3D.
There's a video of the scanner's introduction at SolidWorks World plus a demo on the website that gives a quick run through of the process. Absolutely amazing! I cannot imagine this being anything but a huge hit. 3D engineering and design from concept to finished parts for almost everyone just got a lot closer.
Big Thanks to Todd for the tip!