SelfCAD is an online CAD and 3D design software

It uses latest JavaScript features. Please pick a newer browser. Examples are listen below.

The Ultimate Guide to 3D Scanning for 3D Printing

 |  Leon Collier

 The Ultimate Guide to 3D Scanning in 3D Printing

Technology has advanced and developed immensely during the last couple of years. Even though 3D printing was earlier seen as something far-fetched at the beginning, the industry is now blooming. There are many types of 3D printers, different materials and types of plastics to be used, and many more. A 3D printer helps you create some objects or tools that otherwise would be too expensive to buy. 

And the most amazing thing is that 3D printers are not used and built only as a hobby. There is an entire industry that is focusing on 3D printing and these printers are used in the medical industry too. In fact, they are indispensable tools because they are now used in the printing of tissues and prostheses. The aerospatial industry is another area that is benefiting from 3D printing, and there are many other industries as well that rely on this. 

It seems like 3D printing is spectacular and is becoming more and more popular around the world. A few years ago 3D printing was available only to those who are financially capable to own a 3D printer, but now it is widely available to the general public. This means that anyone who loves his domain or is interested in starting a business has access to 3D printers. 

In fact, they are now more affordable than before. 3D printing is not only about using raw plastics and materials to print some tools. The process is a complex one and it involves 3D scanning too. So, if you are looking for a guide to 3D scanning for 3D printing, you have come to the right place. In this article, we will dwell more on this subject and answer all your questions. Read on to learn more. 

What is 3D Printing? 

3D scanning for 3D printing

Post 3D printing activity being performed on a design. Image source: Unsplash

3D printing is the process of creating new objects or adding extra layers of materials. As opposed to drilling, 3D printing does not extract or minimize the object, but instead, develops it even more. 3D printing is a technology that was first developed and made available to the public in 1980. However, it became widely available to the general public after 2009. 

The 3D printing companies that were founded back in the 1990s are still present on the market. This is a good sign because it means that there is an increasing demand for 3D printed products. Nowadays, having a 3D printer is not as expensive as it once was and many people can afford one. 

How Does It Work?

If you have wondered how 3D printing works, you should know that there is a very basic process. The process becomes a lot easier when you already know what tools or objects you want to print. Your 3D printer will start building your object by adding layer after layer until you have what you wanted to create. 

You can create the product you want to print by yourself using a 3D modeling software like SelfCAD. This is usually a thorough process because the measurements need to be perfect. It may seem complicated the first time you try it out, but as you go on using it, you will be able to create some amazing products. During the 3D modeling process stage, you need to put in mind the design for additive manufacturing so that your designs can be printable without any issue.

What is 3D Scanning?

3D scanning for 3D printing

3D scanning demonstration. Image source: Unsplash

3D printing is the process of actually printing and creating an object using plastics, wood, and other types of materials. 3D scanning, on the other hand, as you may guess, is a different process. 3D scanning is about the data you collect from the object in order to recreate its image in three-dimensional space. 3D scanning is very important and it can help you design some impressive designs. But it is about more than this. 

3D scanning enables mechanics, hobbyists, and others to examine the object digitally. By doing so, they can change some features or measurements, and attain the next level in their career. If you have the object scanned digitally, you can recreate it by 3D printing it, or you can even make changes to it. Either way, 3D scanning is something that boosts your work and precision, which is awesome and makes things safer. 

It does not matter what 3D scanner or printer you have, because each of them has the same goal: to create a 3D version of an object. And they do this by using sensors, light, and laser to detect the curves and shape of the object. How accurate the scanner will virtually build the 3D version of the object depends on your machine. 

Some are well adapted to scanning large objects, which means that they take up some space. On the other hand, there are 3D scanners that are more compact and smaller, thus more suited for scanning small objects. The scanning process is based on triangulation, which is the process of determining the location of a point by forming triangles. 

Light 3D Scanning

Depending on how functional your 3D scanner is, you have a few options to consider. Each of them comes with both advantages and disadvantages, so it is important to be aware of how each of them functions. 

For example, light 3D scanning eliminates the need to touch the object or have any kind of physical contact with the object. This is a nice thing to have, especially because it improves your efficiency and productivity. There are other machines, such as coordinate measuring machines (CMMs) that are less accurate and are as fast as a light 3D scanner. However, you need to be aware that light 3D scanning is still developing and, in some cases, it might not yield the result you desire. 

If you want to choose a light 3D scanner, you should be aware of certain things and specs. For example, there are two types of light 3D scanners you can buy and use, and each of them has its advantages and disadvantages. How the scanner is built will have an impact on the quality of your scan, so it is very important to be aware of these differences. The comparison is between white light and blue light scanners. 

Even though to a beginner it may seem that the color of the light does not matter so much, in fact, it does. It has a big impact on the quality of the scan. So if you are aiming for high-quality, you should choose a blue light 3D scanner. This is because blue light has a narrow wavelength, which makes it easier to resist ambient light. The result? An accurate and high-quality 3D scan of the object. 

Photogrammetry 3D scanning 

3D scanning for 3D printing

Photogrammetry 3D scanning. Image source:

Light and sensor 3D scanners represent just two of the 3D scanners types. As technology advances even more, newer 3D scanning methods and technologies are being developed. Technology also develops the 3D scanning and printing domain, and being aware of this evolution enables you to make the best choices. 

Photogrammetry 3D scanning is a new technique that is different from laser or light 3D scanning. In this technique, a camera takes photos of your object from different angles. Until this, everything seems simple and logical. But for your 3D printer to bundle the photos together and create the 3D version of your object, it needs to use specific software. 

Your scanner should be able to recognize the parts, points, or features that are common to each image so that it will build an accurate, precise, and smooth version of the object. The photogrammetry process can be automatic or manual, so depending on your financial possibilities, you can choose the right option for you. 


3D printing is one of the marvels of technology. Since 2009, 3D printing and scanning technologies have been widely available to the general public. They can change every industry by making it more affordable and easier than ever to print objects. 3D printing and scanning are some of the main hobbies of people today, maybe because this technology is now more affordable than ever. 

And as technology develops and improves even more, more methods and tools will be developed. How 3D printing works, how you can 3D scan some objects, what materials to use to print them or what software you need to adjust the measurements of the object are some of the things you need to know before 3D printing. 

3D scanning and printing could turn into a nice hobby, in which you discover more not only about yourself but about technology too. You can choose from many types of 3D scanners and printers and each type comes with advantages and disadvantages. It is up to you to choose the one that is right for you, your goals, and your plans. 

Enjoy powerful modelling, rendering, and 3D printing tools without the steep learning curve.

Try SelfCAD

Need to learn 3D Modeling? Get started with . interactive tutorials

About the author

Bio lines: Leon Collier is a blogger and academic writer from the UK who has vast experience working with Essayontime. He loves to take on every challenge thrown at him and has the ability to deliver outstanding work regularly. When he’s not busy writing, he loves reading books and playing tabletop games with his friends. Follow him on Twitter @LeonCollier12.

Was this blog post interesting or helpful?