The cost of 3D scanning is affected by many factors. This guide will talk about these influencing factors so that you can decide whether to start a scanner for your own use or seek professional scanning services.
The way of 3D capture
buy a scanner, rent a scanner, or buy a scanning service
Scan object size, quantity, complexity, application scenarios, etc.
US$250 (small parts)-US$2000 (large parts)
Many professionals often consider the cost of 3D scanning when facing scanning projects. This issue is also quite complex: like other technical equipment, there are many factors to consider when scanning.
Next, let’s analyze the common factors one by one.
Key factors affecting the cost of 3D scanning
1. Scanning object or part size
When formulating a scan budget, one of the basic factors that must be considered first is the size of the scanned object or part. Compared with small objects, large objects are usually more time-consuming and require more scans to get a complete model. Therefore, the cost of scanning large objects will be correspondingly higher.
Use a handheld 3D scanner to scan the precise details of large industrial products
However, in some cases, this is not the case. Scanning small objects with complex geometry may be more expensive than scanning large objects with simple geometry. We will make specific introductions in the following subsections.
If you plan to buy a scanner, please make sure that the product you choose is suitable for the size of the scanned object. Sometimes, large objects with complex geometry require multiple scanners to work together. One scanner captures the overall outline of the object, and the other captures small areas that are difficult to reach to complete all acquisitions.
2. The complexity of scanning objects or parts
The second key factor to consider is the geometric complexity of the object. Scanning an object without complex details is easier than scanning complex features such as holes, thin lines, sharp edges, superimposed parts, and threads. Such complex features require more time to complete the collection of details and complete an accurate and complete model, while objects without features are very simple.
It is faster and simpler to scan objects without a lot of detail. It is more troublesome to scan surfaces with holes, thin lines, sharp edges, superimposed parts, threads and other complex features.
To illustrate this point, we have prepared the following two models. The first model is a wrench, which is a small object with simple geometry (2.5 cm x 16.3 cm). The scanning specialist only took 3 minutes to scan, and Artec Studio software processed the data for 10 minutes.
3D models of small objects with simple geometry3D models of medium-sized objects with complex geometry
The second model is a dual-clutch gearbox, which is a medium-sized object (40 cm x 44 cm x 52 cm) with a lot of tiny details. The scanning time is 22 minutes, and the processing time is doubled.
3. The number of scanned objects or parts in the project
After considering the above two factors, it is natural to consider this: the more objects or parts that need to be captured, the more resources will be consumed for scanning and processing, whether you plan to do it yourself or find someone to do it for you. Each part of the object, or multiple physical objects, needs to be scanned independently, and may require different scanning and data processing workflows.
The more objects or parts that need to be collected, the more resources are consumed for scanning and processing.
For example, when reverse engineering requires a complete scan, it is often necessary to disassemble the object so that each component can be scanned separately. This requires the allocation of scanning and processing time. However, in some cases, for example, if the shape of the component is relatively basic, disassembly is not necessary.
The same is true in the area of quality assurance. In most cases, the parts to be inspected must be compared with the corresponding CAD/mesh model without disassembly.
4. Accuracy and resolution of the model
Another key factor that needs to be considered when evaluating scanning costs is the accuracy and resolution of the final 3D model. Different scanners have different technical specifications. The resolution and accuracy are determined by the technology used by the device. The more advanced the hardware and software, the higher the quality of the equipment, the processing speed and accuracy, and the higher the stability of the final effect. Therefore, the higher the accuracy and quality requirements of the model, the greater the investment in 3D capture, whether you plan to do it yourself or find someone to do it for you.
The higher the accuracy and quality requirements of the model, the greater the investment in 3D capture, whether you plan to do it yourself or find someone to do it for you.
There are many 3D scanners and scanning equipment on the market: white and blue structured light 3D scanners, laser scanners, photogrammetry solutions and so on. If you seek professional scanning services, the other party will choose which scanner is most suitable for you. However, if you plan to buy a 3D scanner for your own use, please understand the equipment specifications first, arrange an offline or online product demonstration, scan at least one object you want to scan, and feel the effect.
Another factor that affects scanning costs is color. Some application scenarios require color scanning to pursue realistic effects. In some cases, for example, when you need to measure an object, you don't need color.
3D model of electric drill scanned with Artec Space Spider (textured and untextured)
If the project requires high-quality textures, it is necessary to use professional lighting equipment and specific software, such as photogrammetry software, to project the exterior texture lens onto the grid. Therefore, the investment in time and money is large. Are not the same.
If the model needs to be displayed online or used in a video game, AR or VR application, it may take more time for the 3D artist to perform texture post-processing and retouching. But in some cases, the scanning and processing for color and textureless capture of objects may be almost the same. Everything depends on the application scenario, which will be expanded in the next section.
6. Application scenarios
3D scanning is often only part of a huge workflow. Just like scanning an article in a magazine with an ordinary scanner, conducting research, or shooting someone’s interview video to make a documentary, a 3D scanner can be used to 3D copy an object and use it for some specific projects.
Using Artec Space Spider to make a 3D model of the compressor and continue to use it for reverse engineering
Whether it is scanning broken car parts to be repaired, chairs in online stores, or foot scanning for custom orthotics, each application scenario has different requirements. The data captured by the scanner needs further processing before it can be suitable for project use.
If you want the original 3D data, there will be no extra cost if you buy a scanner or look for professional services. Most 3D scanning solutions support various common 3D formats such as STL, OBJ, PLY and WRL.
The fixture 3D mesh model made by Artec Micro: the fixture CAD feature model made according to the 3D mesh model, the mesh is composed of thousands of polygons
For example, if you want to obtain a CAD parametric model instead of a mesh model, the price of the scanning service will be more expensive (it may also be that you or your CAD specialist spend several hours on processing). In this case, the modeling and CAD parts must be included in the budget. Reverse engineering costs US$100-250 per hour. The more complex the object, the longer it takes to reverse engineering.
7. Complex materials and scanning conditions
Some reflective or shiny surfaces are difficult to capture directly. It takes extra time to prepare objects, such as spraying washable or self-shedding sprays, and cleaning up after scanning.
Some reflective or shiny surfaces are difficult to capture directly. It takes extra time to prepare objects and arrange a suitable scanning environment.
In addition, some scanners require special devices and the cooperation of other materials to capture smoothly, such as marking points. These marking points are also an extra expense, and they are troublesome, and it takes a long time to post them. At the same time, it is necessary to ensure that the number is sufficient and that there are enough markers for each frame. After scanning, it takes time to remove the markers and clean the scanned object.
In some cases, if an object is large and located far away, or it is difficult to scan all surfaces by yourself, then you may need some additional equipment (ladders, cranes, etc.), or Some helpers scan together.
3D scanning price example
Here are a few different project examples to illustrate the cost issue.
Please note: These prices are estimated by the ARTEC 3D US scanning service team, and may differ slightly from the prices of other scanning service providers. For example, some merchants use different scanning technologies and software, or are located in different countries.
Case 1: Automobile wheel hub
The first estimation project is car wheels: This is a very common scanning object. Many car manufacturers, after-sales maintenance and modification shops require 3D scanners for reverse production to measure the size of various car parts. Including car wheels.
The geometry of the car wheel is very small, but there are also many detailed elements that need to be captured
Compared with the object in the case below, the geometry of this hub is not particularly complicated, but there are still some precise details, such as the center plate, center hole, spokes, and center cap, which are more difficult to capture. Due to the lack of features, we need to randomly place some marks around the hub to ensure the scanner's tracking stability.
To scan this hub, our scanning specialist chose the ARTEC structured light scanner Eva with HD mode to capture the small elements inside the hub and produce clean and clear 3D data. The scanning time is about 5 minutes, and the position is adjusted in 1 minute. The HD reconstruction time is approximately 7.5 minutes, and the total processing time is 25 minutes. The entire project took about 40 minutes.
scans such medium-sized objects and handles fewer items. The basic price is US$800. If the customer requires more detail and needs to use a higher-precision HD scanner Space Spider, the price may be as high as US$1,200. .
Case 2: Dual-clutch gearbox
Dual-clutch gearbox is a typical object with complex geometry
We decided to use a more complex and large object in the second case, so we chose this dual-clutch gearbox. As you can see, there are many tiny details on this gearbox. This is the typical object with complex geometry mentioned at the beginning of this article.
The scanning specialist used the Eva scanner in HD mode to complete the scan in 20 minutes, and then it took 50 minutes to rebuild. Artec Studio software processing took 110 minutes in total. The entire process took 2.5 hours and cost 1,200 US dollars.
Case 3: Cooling grille
In the last case, let’s take a look at another car part, which is not only geometrically complex, but also has a black reflective surface (which is difficult for many 3D scanners), which is the heat dissipation grille.
With appropriate software and hardware, black reflective surfaces can also be captured smoothly
In order to make the workflow faster and simpler, our scanning specialists first carried out some preparatory work, spraying the reflective part of the grid with scanning spray, and then scanning with the Leo scanner in HD mode. Of course, after the scan is completed, it takes another time to erase the spray.
scan time 7 minutes, 13 minutes for HD reconstruction. The Artec Studio software processes for 35 minutes to make a finished mesh model.
Scanning such objects that need to be sprayed costs about US$800. The price of a can of spray is 10-50 US dollars. Of course, it takes time and patience to properly treat the grille as in this example.
buy a scanner by yourself vs. seek professional services
So the question is, is it buying, renting a 3D scanner, or looking for a third-party service?
If you need to scan the above objects regularly, for example, several times a week or a month, it may be more cost-effective to buy one or more 3D scanners. If you scan an average of $1,000 per scan, you only need to scan 2-3 parts per month and scan for a year, and the cost of an Etech scanner will come back.
Artec Leo scanning training
If you only scan occasionally and you are not sure whether you want to buy a scanner for this, it is best to rent it for a week or a month to see if the scanner usage process meets your needs. Many companies that sell 3D scanners also provide rental services and can provide you with technical advice. It is also a good choice to try it out before buying a new or used 3D scanner. The rental price varies from company to company. Here is a reference. The rental fee for Eva or Space Spider is about US$250-375 per day, and the rental fee for Leo is about US$475 per day.
If you scan an average of $1,000 per scan, you only need to scan 2-3 parts per month and scan for one year, and the cost of an ARTEC scanner will come back
If it is a one-time scan, it is much cheaper to use a professional scanning service. In this way, you do not need to purchase professional equipment, you can let the 3D experts do the work for you. It’s also much faster than buying a scanner, and it’s more cost-effective
No matter what the project, I hope you now have a clearer understanding of the cost of 3D scanning. After reading this article, you plan to buy a 3D scanner suitable for you, and would like to know more information about Etech 3D scanner, please click here to contact us, we are happy to answer any questions you have.