3D scanning with a smartphone is a great alternative to high priced scanning equipment. With a little bit of clean up, you can recreate some of your favorite physical objects.
But before getting started, it’s important to keep the following in mind when using smartphone apps for 3D scanning:
This list is made up of apps that only use the smartphone for scanning, with no extra hardware required. While extra hardware will result in better scans, the accessibility of 3D scanner apps is very useful.
The following five apps are graded on a scale from 1 to 10, based on quality, reliability, and ease of use.
Trnio is a dream to use… You simply tap the camera button at the center of the screen and walk around the object. The screen adds a blue augmented reality (AR) dot every time it takes a picture. Once you have enough photos, you just tap and hold the middle of the screen, and it will start stitching them together. As long as you’re steady, and the object you are scanning has a lot of texture on it, scans normally turn out well.
Trnio also scans a lot of other things around the object. This means you will have more cleaning up to do. Reliability can also be a small issue as some scans turn out better than others.
Trnio also incorporates a social platform of sorts. You can follow other users, view other scans and add friends. It’s interesting to view the featured scans and see how other people’s scans have turned out. And thanks to the app’s “export to Sketchfab” feature, you can download scans from Sketchfab’s website.
This app, created by Steven Roach, was a definite underdog. At first glance, it looks like some kind of knock-off 3D scanner app that wasn’t put together very well. But you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Using the app, it’s easy to see that this is a great way to start 3D scanning.
The ease of use is amazing. All you have to do is push the red button in the bottom of the screen and move around the object. Once you feel satisfied with what you have, press “View”. Doing this will bring up an AR re-creation of what you scanned. It renders very fast, and you can export the file to Google Drive once you’re done.
At first glance, Qlone, from EyeCue Vision Technologies LTD, seems amazing. Built-in AR viewing, easy export to Sketchfab and even an AR guide to help you scan.
Before you start scanning, you’ll have to print out the Qlone mat. Scanning itself is simple, you simply press the plus button and then move your phone or the object around until the AR dome is clear. Once the software has rendered the model, and you can color and export it.
Another feature of Qlone is that you can take scans in more than one position, and it will merge them for a better scan. Although this feature does help sometimes, scans usually come out with deformed features, especially a distorted top.
One of the downfalls of Qlone is how poor some of the scans are. Although some are recognizable, some smaller models are not as good. The more your object fills up the AR dome, the better the scan will be. The other thing we don’t like about the app is the monetization of the exports. While exporting GIFs, videos, images and to Sketchfab and social media is free, exporting to CGTrader and Shapeways costs $0.99. Even exporting an OBJ or STL file isn’t free. Instead, you must either pay a dollar for each export or purchase credits to “unlock” the model.
Overall, Scann3D, from SmartMobileVison, is a definite forerunner. With easy to see tracking points, the ability to import images, and exporting to Sketchfab, Scann3D looks good. The app is very clean, easy to use and overall makes for a good experience. It features “guided scanning” to help make sure that your photos are good, and it really helps.
Something that can be frustrating at times is that the app does take a long time to render the model. On top of that, during testing the app crashed while it was rendering photos. This was angering, in that it happened after stitching, which itself took a long time. Another point of frustration is that you can’t export models without subscribing to their features.
This 3D scanner app was truly thought out, and it is easy to see why Scann3D would want to monetize their technology. Yet, as with Qlone, there could be a better way to monetize.
Cappy, by Scandy, is more of a social network of scanned creations than anything else. With no way to export, it doesn’t really have a purpose other than being fun. Inside the app you can view other peoples’ scans in AR, wherever you want.
If you have an iPhone 10, you can use the front-facing camera to scan objects. The app is very easy to use and is also aesthetically pleasing. Everything is completely free, so you can scan all you want.
One of the downsides is that you can only scan for ten seconds, but since the app has no other purpose than to look at and share models, this is more than enough time. All and all, if you want good exportable scans, this is not the 3D scanner app for you. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for a fun way to scan with your friends, give it a shot!
3D scanner apps are getting better and better. They’ve not only become easier to use but also better in quality and reliability. Ease of use in all of the apps has also improved tremendously.
With the 3D printing industry on the rise, scanning will no doubt be soon to follow. Because of applications that replicate and improve objects, 3D scanning is also very useful.
These apps will keep getting better, and that’s the main take away from the ones in this list. They may have their faults, like poor quality and some monetization problems, but they’re only a glimpse into the future. A future of scanning with ease and extreme quality at the tips of our fingers.
License: The text of "5 Best 3D Scanner Apps (Android & iOS)" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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