October 23, 2020
best 3d scanner the complete buyer's guide 2020 cover

The Top 15 Best 3D Scanners 2020 (For ALL Price Ranges!)

3D scanners are changing how we make, design, and see the world. Based on 3D scanning technologies such as laser triangulation or structured light scanning, these scanners create entire 3D models based on physical objects in just seconds! With a bit of DIY skill you can cheaply build your own DIY 3D scanner — though most would rather buy a high quality 3D scanner that works out the box.

We used criteria such as scan quality and price-performance ratio as well as any personal feedback the team had on the scanners. We grouped the scanners by price range: cheap 3D scanners under $1,000; medium priced 3D scanners under $10,000; and industrial 3D scanners over $10,000.

A Short Introduction to 3D Scanning

3D scanning includes several different technologies, such as Structured Light scanning and Laser Triangulation, as well as varying across types of scanner such as stationary and handheld 3D scanners.

3D scanners create point clouds based on images taken of a solid surface or object — basically huge numbers of data points that denote where an object is — to create a 3D model of the scanned part. Millions of individual data points are taken during the 3D laser scanning process, which can then be imported into 3D CAD software and edited or refined.

Other forms of 3D scanning include photogrammetry, which even fairly basic smartphones can now do to a certain level. This involves taking a large number of individual photos of a stationary object, each at slightly different angles, and then collating them all together to create an accurate 3D model.

The Best 3D Scanners for All Prices Ranges in 2020

3D Scanner Brand & NameType of 3D ScannerPriceWhere to buy and where has the best price
SOL 3D scanner by Scan DimensionDesktop 3D Scanner$699Amazon here
XYZPrinting Handheld Scanner 2.0Handheld 3D Scanner$229Amazon here
BQ CiclopLaser Triangulation (DIY)Around $200 (check links depending on if pre-assembled or DIY)Amazon here
CowTech CiclopLaser Triangulation (DIY)Around $110-120Amazon here
Matter & Form V2Desktop 3D Scanner$689Amazon here
3D Systems Sense 2Handheld 3D Scanner$500Amazon here
Occipital Structure SensoriPad 3D Scanner$400Amazon here
Shining 3D EinScan SEDesktop 3D Scanner$1,399Amazon here
HP SLS Pro 3SLS 3D Scanner$1,799Amazon here
Shining 3D EinScan SPDesktop 3D Scanner$2,500Amazon here
Shining 3D EinScan Pro 2X PlusHandheld 3D Scanner$7,000Amazon here
ScanTech iReal2EHandheld 3D ScannerContact for priceScanTech Site
ScanTech KSCANHandheld 3D ScannerContact for priceScanTech site
Artec EVAIndustrial 3D Scanner$19,800

1. SOL 3D Scanner by Scan Dimension

SOL is a desktop laser scanner designed for scanning small yet detailed items, with good accuracy for the price. The actual scanner itself weighs just 7 pounds, and can scan objects that weigh up to 2kg.

It has two different modes depending on what you’re scanning:

  • Near mode: for scanning objects of up to 100 mm in diameter and 100 mm in height.
  • Far mode: for scanning objects up to 170 mm in diameter and 170 mm in height.
sol by scan dimension using laser triangulation

The SOL boasts an accuracy of around 0.1 mm, extremely good for the price range. You scan objects with their included SOL 3D software, and can then easily export your scans as OBJ or STL files and import them into a 3D slicer for 3D printing.

The Danish company promote this impressive 3D visualizer as not only a 3D scanner for makers or hobbyists, but for entrepreneurs too. They sell the SOL scanner as a way for entrepreneurs to show their products off with a 360 degree view, with easy ways to share these scans on Facebook. Additionally, Scan Dimension say the scanner is also perfectly suited for education, for teaching students STEM education through scanning and editing structures.

2. XYZprinting Full Color Handheld 3D Scanner 2.0 Pro

XYZprinting came out of nowhere a few years ago to dominate the cheap 3D printer market. Since then, they’ve moved into the SLS 3D printer market, as well as manufacturing a cheap 3D pen.

This new and improved version of the original XYZprinting handheld 3D scanner features better quality scans than the 1.0A version, as well as a faster scan speed so you can scan more objects in a shorter timeframe. It is capable of full color 3D scanning, using structured light technologies to scan your chosen object or person.

Here’s a video XYZprinting made about how to use their handheld 3D scanner:

Depending on what you’re scanning, this low cost scanner has 4 different modes with different scan settings: Mask Mode for faces, Head Mode for full heads, Object mode for static objects, and Body Mode for 3D scanning bodies.

It has a color image size of 1920 x 1080p and image depth of 640 x 480p, at 40fps and 30fps respectively. This low cost 3D scanner is ideal at an operating range of between 30 and 50 cm from the target, during which it has a 30 to 100 cm viewing area.

This simple-to-use 3D scanner allows you to easily export .STL and .OBJ files for 3D printing, and you just need to hold the scanner between 10 and 70cm away from the object to scan it. Then, simply connect the XYZprinting handheld 3D scanner to your computer via USB and transfer the scan over. You can then import the scan into a slicer, and then you’re ready to print!

This is probably the cheapest way to 3D scan bodies, so if you are looking for a body 3D scanner — for example to create mini models for a model train set or other project — this may be the perfect solution for you.

xyzprinting handheld full color 3d scanner 2.0

3. BQ Ciclop

Unlike many scanners, this DIY 3D scanner is open source, with all the files hosted on Thingiverse for you to download and print. The Ciclop has proven popular, with over 28,000 downloads on Thingiverse alone. The Ciclop, made by Spanish manufacturer BQ, provide all of the information, software, and electronics for this 3D scanner kit which you can modify for yourself, on their website.

The BQ Ciclop 3D scanner is based on laser triangulation technology, and can scan objects in a few minutes. Moreover, the instructions that BQ provide with the kit allow anyone — even a beginner! — to assemble the DIY 3D scanner in less than an hour. BQ host downloads for all the drivers for the camera and firmware that you need, and developed a specialized 3D scanner app called Horus for scanning on your Ciclop.

Here’s how you assemble your own BQ Ciclop:

It’s simple but effective. Composed of 10 3D printed parts (download .STL files from Thingiverse), a threaded rod, a Logitech C270 webcam, two line lasers, and a turntable platform with a stepper motor, though you can edit and modify it as you wish. It’s simplicity has led to Cowtech making their own model in 2015 which raised $183,000 on Kickstarter.

The BQ Ciclop scans a volume of 250 x 205 mm and has a resolution of up to 0.3mm. It can be connected via USB or Bluetooth, and is therefore a versatile and affordable low-cost 3D scanner for beginners to 3D scanning.

bq ciclop diy laser triangulation scanner
Spanish tech company BQ have released this open-source 3D scanner which you can put together inexpensively.

4. CowTech Ciclop

CowTech took the wonderful idea behind the BQ Ciclop and upgraded it in 2015, putting a new spin on the classic DIY 3D scanner kit along with the open source ethos. With these improvements, CowTech setup a Kickstarter campaign to raise $10,000 to create these cheap 3D scanners. The community rallied behind them, and the CowTech Ciclop raised an astonishing $183,000.

Here’s CowTech’s video on how you assemble their Ciclop:

As with the BQ Ciclop, the CowTech Ciclop uses Horus, the 3D software program which makes scanning a breeze. However, this version features a slightly different design as it is made from 3D printed parts designed to be able to be printed on any 3D printer on the market. As a result, any 3D printer with a print volume of 115mm x 110mm x 65mm or more can print the necessary parts.

The CowTech Ciclop also features adjustable laser holders and uses laser-cut acrylic instead of the BQ Ciclops’ threaded rods. Overall, the CowTech Ciclop makes a number of key improvements on the original model without making any drastic changes that distance it from its predecessor. You can buy a ready-to-scan Ciclop from their website for just $159, making this a fantastic cheap 3D scanner for laser triangulation.

cowtech ciclop
The CowTech Ciclop is an improvement on BQ’s DIY 3D scanner.

5. Matter and Form V2 3D Scanner MFS1V2

The Matter and Form V2 is an updated version of the original desktop 3D scanner made by the Canadian tech startup. This low-cost 3D scanner uses 2 lasers and a HD-CMOS sensor to produce high-resolution, full-color 3D scans.

The scanner has an accuracy of up to around 0.1mm, and is easily connectable to your computer through USB to transfer over your scans. For editing scans, the Matter and Form scanner comes with specialized Mfstudio and Quickscan 3D software to make sure your scans look perfect. You can then export the .STL files and print them with your 3D printer.

The 3D scanner can scan objects in size up to 25 cm tall and 18 cm in diameter. It is compatible with every major OS, such as Windows 7+ and iOS10.7+. What we like most however is that it folds up, making it extremely portable for scanning on the move.

matter and form v2 3d scanner
The new Matter and Form scanner can generate a full 3D scan in 65 seconds.

6. 3D Systems Sense 2 Handheld 3D Scanner

3D Systems have a lot of prestige in the 3D printing market, being the first company to commercialize additive manufacturing. With their stereolithography technology in the late 1980s, 3D Systems have pioneered 3D printing for over 30 years. Now, they have released an inexpensive 3D scanner, the Sense 2.

This compact, low-cost handheld 3D scanner can scan columns up to 2 cubic metres wide, and has a minimum volume of 200 x 200 x 200 mm. The Cubify Sense also has a fairly good accuracy, at 0.9mm. The handheld scanning aspect rather than being fixed in one location makes it ideal for 3D scanning rooms and people — so if you’re looking for a room 3D scanner this could be ideal.

The Cubify Sense uses structured light technology to 3D scan, and comes with 3D Systems’ own ‘Sense’ 3D software. This versatile 3D scanner is reasonably priced, and is compatible with Windows 8+.

3d systems cubify sense 2 scanner
3D printer giant 3D Systems also make a handheld 3D scanner – the Cubify Sense.

7. Occipital Structure Sensor MARK II – Best iPad 3D Scanner!

The Occipital Structure Sensor MARK II 3D scanner is a very versatile handheld 3D scanner. Originally designed to be a 3D scanner for iPhone and iPad, you can also mod it for use with Windows products. This second iteration is much improved, featuring more sensitive and detailed scanning, a smaller frame, and better scanning outdoors.

The Occipital Structure Sensor uses structured light technologies to 3D scan, and has a resolution of around 0.5mm and size of just 119 x 28 x 29mm. It comes with Structure SDK 3D scanning app, and is easy to transport as this cheap 3D scanner weighs less than a kilo.

You can easily transfer your 3D scans to your computer or any other device via its USB connectibility, and is a great way to take low-cost 3D scans, especially for developers. There are a variety of types for different iPads, with compatible scanners for the iPad Mini through to the iPad Pro 11 and 12.9 and Air.

occipital structure sensor mark 2 ipad 3d scanner iphone
Turn your iPad or similar device into a powerful 3D scanner with the Occipital Structure Sensor.

Medium Priced 3D Scanners: $1,000 to $10,000

8. Shining 3D EinScan SE

Shining 3D have made a name for themselves in the medium range 3D scanning sector recently, with cheaper options such as the EinScan-SE as well as more expensive scanners like the EinScan Pro 2X Plus.

The EinScan SE is one of the best 3D scanners in its price range. It can take a scan in around 8 seconds (versus 4 seconds for the EinScan SP) and can complete a whole 360 degree scan in its Automatic Scan mode in around 2 minutes. It can scan objects up to around 200 mm wide and 150 mm tall, with a single shot accuracy of around 0.1 mm (versus 0.05 mm for the EinScan SE).

Overall, it’s accurate, reliable, and makes it easy to quickly scan stationary objects and 3D print them with ease. The EinScan SP — described in more detail further in this guide — is more precise, but costs more. Therefore, it’s a matter of your budget and how important this additional quality is for you personally.

einscan se shining 3d scanning a plastic horse object

9. HP SLS Pro 3 Scanner

American technology giant HP have been heavily involved in both 3D printing and scanning in the last few years. Since announcing their entrance into 3D printing they have pioneered Multi Jet Fusion technologies, and now intend to innovate in the desktop 3D scanner sector.

Their newest scanner, the Structured Light Scanner Pro 3, is a very powerful piece of kit. It features both an industrial-level camera with high quality lens, as well as a video projector equipped with a specialized lens for larger focal ranges. The camera can be moved across the slider based on your needs at the time, and can complete scans in just a few seconds.

As suggested in the name, the HP SLS Pro 3 uses Structured Light scanning technologies, allowing for extremely detailed scans to be captured with up to 0.05 mm accuracy. The HP SLS Pro 3 can scan objects varying from between 60 and 500 mm in size, which should be enough as long as you don’t intend on scanning cars or full bodies — in which case you’ll need a handheld 3D scanner.

hp sls pro 3 structured light scanner

10. ScanTech iReal 2E Color 3D Scanner

  • Scanning area: Up to 850 mm x 800 mm
  • Accuracy: Up to 0.100 mm

iReal 2E is a professional handheld color 3D scanner manufactured by ScanTech. The company specializes in developing, manufacturing and selling intelligent visual inspection equipment and sells an entire range of 3D scanners for various applications and sectors.

scantech ireal2e color handheld 3d scanner

The iReal 2E uses red VCSEL structured light technology to offer you a simple and safe 3D scanning experience, eliminating the issues of dazzling lights and difficulties in hair 3D scanning. Without attaching markers, a quick and accurate texture and geometry scan can be achieved with a wide scanning area of 850 mm x 800 mm, 750 mm depth of field, 1.5 million measurements per second, and at 0.100 mm accuracy. Mixed alignment modes meet various scanning situations.

11. Shining 3D EinScan SP

The second Shining 3D medium-range 3D scanner in our ranking, the SP is cheaper than some of their more premium models like the Einscan Pro range, but still very effective. It is more accurate than the EinScan SE, with accuracy up to 0.05 mm rather than 0.1 mm, and scans single shots in half the time (4s vs 8s). Double the price, double the accuracy — and half the scanning time.

The scanner utilizes white light scanning technologies to make very accurate scans of objects as small as 30 x 30 x 30 mm. Full objects are typically scanned in less than a minute, and images in less than four seconds. What’s more, despite its cheaper price, many Amazon buyers have reported that it can compete with scanners costing ten times as much for scan quality! It also comes with a tripod.

shining 3d einscan sp

12. Shining 3D EinScan-Pro 2X Plus

Shining 3D produce a number of different 3D scanners for different price points. The EinScan-Pro 2X Plus can be used as a fixed or handheld 3D scanner to capture objects of varying sizes. The EinScan-Pro 2X Plus uses white light 3D scanning technologies to increase accuracy and scan faster, creating high-quality scans in record time.

This 3D scanner’s price is significantly higher than the other Shining 3D scanners on our ranking, but the 2X Plus comes with a number of key advantages. You can simply hold the scanner and point it towards the object or room you want to 3D scan, and instantly record crisp scans of your surroundings. You may want to 3D scan a car, your friend, or even turn it into a baby 3D scanner for a 3D memory of your child before it grows up!

Chinese company Shining 3D first came onto the scene with a successful Kickstarter campaign, raising over $120,000. Since then they’ve expanded, and now this 3D scanner is accurate up to 0.03mm for objects less than 4m away.

shining3d einscan pro 2x plus industrial 3d scanner

Professional 3D Scanners: $10,000+

13. Polyga H3 Handheld 3D Scanner

  • Professional 3D Scanner Price: $9,990 — More details on Polyga site
  • Scanning Area: 205 x 112 mm to 455 x 252 mm
  • Accuracy: Up to 0.080mm
  • Company Based: Canada

Canadian 3D scanner manufacturer Polyga have developed some of the most advanced handheld and stationary 3D scanners of the last few years, with the H3 no different.

H3 stands for: Handheld, High Accuracy, and Hybrid, with the Polyga H3 capable of ultra-high detail capture, able to be used in handheld or traditional stationary mode, and featuring high-speed cameras operating at up to 700 frames per second.

It is simply an all-round professional handheld 3D scanner leveraging Polyga’s decades of experience in developing stationary 3D scanning systems. The H3 produces some of the highest accuracies possible in a single-shot scan for a handheld system in its class, ensuring you get the best accuracy and detail for your investment.

Scan a variety of objects from artifacts, mechanical parts, faces, and even entire people for work applications in industries including manufacturing, arts, archaeology, medical, computer vision, research, and design. The Polyga H3 gives you the power to accomplish your scanning projects in less time.

14. Artec EVA

  • Industrial 3D scanner price: $19,800

Creating new innovative solutions in 3D technology since 2007, Artec 3D is a global leader in handheld 3D scanners. Their most popular scanner, the Eva, is a handheld, industrial 3D object scanner, and an excellent solution for medium sized objects ranging from motorcycle wheels to car exhaust systems, human busts and facial close-ups.

Light, quick, and versatile, Artec Eva captures precise measurements in high resolution, while structured light scanning technology makes the scanner safe to use in any situation – even difficult to scan surfaces such as black or shiny surfaces are effectively captured by Eva.

artec eva scanning a part

Ideal for use in industries including product design, heritage preservation, healthcare, and reverse engineering, this market leader can accurately scan full-color objects at a range of up to 100cm with color and texture, making it a great solution for fast and accurate 3D models.

artec eva car 3d scanning

15. ScanTech KSCAN-Magic 3D scanner

  • Resolution: 0.010 mm
  • Scanning rate: 1,350,000 measurements/second
  • Scanning area: 1440 x 860 mm

Esteemed 3D scanner company ScanTech have announced the launch of their latest KSCAN 3D scanner, with 5 five different modes for all types of scanning. These include a large area scanning mode, fast scanning mode, photogrammetry, as well as a fine scanning mode. Featuring both infrared lasers and blue laser technologies allows the KSCAN-Magic to accomplish a wide range of scanning functions effectively.

k-scan magic 3d scanner
The KSCAN-Magic 3D scanner can handle large, industrial objects like plane parts, as well as intricate, smaller objects.

It scans accurately, quickly, can handle small and large objects, and is designed to accelerate time-to-market. The 41 equipped laser lines can handle an incredible 1.35 million measurements per second, creating detailed scans in record time.

If you are looking for leading-edge 3D solutions for your business, KSCAN definitely surpasses expectations with its resourcefulness and precision.