The Top 15 Best 3D Scanners (For ALL Price Ranges) 2018

3d scanner

The 3D scanner is a wonderful device. Based on technologies such as laser triangulation or structured light, these scanners can create whole 3D models based on physical objects in just seconds!

Therefore, we researched the best 3D scanners on the market to create our list of the Top 15 Best 3D Scanners of 2018. 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.

Cheap 3D Scanner: Under $1000

Most newcomers to 3D scanning aren’t looking for $50,000 industrial 3D scanners, but more affordable options. Therefore, we ranked the best cheap 3D scanners under $1,000 for our first category.

We also ranked the Top 5 Best DIY 3D scanners for those who are more DIY-inclined.

1. Microsoft Kinect V1

  • Price: $99.99 (No longer sold however, though the Kinect V2 is still sold with Xbox One).
  • Company Based: USA.

This first one might confuse you, as you may be used to thinking of the Kinect as an accessory for the Xbox 360 rather than as a working 3D scanner. However, with a few modifications, this nifty gadget does a decent job for your 3D scanning needs.

Equipped with an infrared sensor and 480p quality and 640 resolutions RGB camera, the Kinect isn’t going to provide you with movie-level quality; but for less than $100 it’s a pretty good option. You can hold your Kinect 3D scanner if using it in Handheld Mode to scan the area around you, and even place it on a tripod and have the object you want to scan on a rotating device to create a makeshift laser triangulation device.

Here’s a quick and easy tutorial on using a Kinect as a 3D scanner:

Though the Kinect V2 has since released with the Xbox One, the original is well-known in the 3D scanning and printing community to be the overall superior option. Firstly, there’s a number of great third party software such as Skanect (owned by Occupital who make the Structure Sensor that also appears in this ranking), and ReconstructMe. Moreover, you don’t need to pay extortionate amounts for the adapter that lets you connect your Kinect V2 to a PC.

Since being received well in the 3D scanning community, Microsoft listened. They developed a dedicated ‘3D Scan’ app to use with the Kinect 3D scanner and speciffy the dimensions you want to scan. This then scans and exports the results into their ‘3D Builder’ program. Then you can choose the file format such as .STL or .OBJ and export your scans. However, most prefer Skanect, Scanify, or ReconstructMe to Microsoft’s programs.

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Microsoft Kinect, from Xbox accessory to low-cost 3D scanner.

2. XYZprinting 3D Scanner 1.0 A

  • Price: $170
  • Company based: Taiwan.
  • Resolution: 1.0 – 2.5 mm.

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.

The XYZprinting 3D scanner 1.0 A retails at around $170 and features four different scanning modes: object (up to 60 x 60 x 50 cm), head (80 x 50 x 50 cm), full body (100 x 100 x 200 cm), and mask (the size of a human face). This cheap 3D scanner uses structured light technologies to achieve this and scan its surroundings.

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

Featuring a scan resolution of 1.0 to 2.5 mm, you get what you pay for in price. However, other factors such as it’s light weight (238 grams), and compact size, make it a great handheld 3D scanner. It has a color image size of 1920 x 1080p and image depth of 640 x 480p, both at 30 frames per second. 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.

However, there has been some backlash at the XYZprinting 3D scanner 1.0 A due to alleged functionality issues. Some report that this scanner struggles to complete a successful scan, with others brand it unreliable. Perhaps it seems too good to be true at this price level. Nonetheless, if you can get it working, the XYZprinting 3D scanner has great potential as a good, cheap 3D scanner.

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The XYZscan by XYZprinting is a good, cheap 3D scanner for your scanning needs.

3. Makerbot Digitizer

  • Price: $799 (though looks to have been discontinued)
  • Company based: USA.
  • Resolution: 0.5 mm.
  • Scan volume: 203 x 203 mm.
  • 3D scanning technology: Laser triangulation.

Makerbot are an American 3D printer manufacturer who produce a number of very popular fused deposition modeling 3D printers. These include their well-reputed Replicator 3D printers. They also produce 3D scanners, including their laser triangulation scanner, the Makerbot Digitizer.

Since exploding onto the scene in 2019 with their first DIY 3D printer kit, Makerbot have gone from strength to strength. Many of their 3D printers have appeared in various ‘best of’ lists, including our best 3D printer guide 2018, best FDM 3D printer guide, and more. Does their first 3D scanner live up to expectations however?

The Makerbot Digitizer is more accurate than some cheap 3D scanner options, with resolutions of up to 0.5 mm. It weighs more however, at round 4kg, but can scan a fairly large area, at a maximum volume of 203 x 203 mm. It competes with 3D Systems’ Sense scanner, as Makerbot is owned by industrial 3D printer manufacturer Stratasys, a major rival.

One of the first consumer 3D scanners ever released, the Makerbot Digitizer scans objects placed onto its rotating platform and scanned through 360 degrees. This means however that only stationary objects can be scanned, and you cannot scan your face or anything that moves. The Makerbot Digitizer also struggles with objects that are dark, transparent, or reflective. This is true of most scanners however.

Equipped with a 1.3 megapixel CMOS sensor, the Digitizer 3D scanner does a good job for the price tag, and offers 500 micron precision. This should be enough for any hobbyist who doesn’t need to produce professional scans. Each scan takes approximately 10-12 minutes to complete. This is because the laser triangulation technology it uses involves projecting a laser beam onto the object inside the center of the rotating plate. The plate then rotates, taking more scans at each position, to form the completed 3D scan.

3d scanner
Not content being at the forefront of desktop 3D printing, Makerbot have also released their own 3D scanner.

4. BQ Ciclop

  • Price: Dependent on buying/making: $150-400.
  • Company based: Spain.
  • Resolution: 0.5 mm.
  • Maximum scan volume: 200 x 200 x 205 mm.
  • 3D scanning technology: Laser Triangulation.

Unlike most of the other 3D scanners, this DIY 3D scanner is open source, with all the files hosted on Thingiverse for you to download and print. The scanner has proved popular, with over 28,000 downloads on Thingiverse alone. The Ciclop is made by Spanish manufacturer BQ, who 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 like the Makerbot Digitizer, and can scan objects in under 8 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 software 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.

3d scanner
Spanish tech company BQ have released this open-source 3D scanner which you can put together inexpensively.

5. CowTech Ciclop

  • Price: $119 – $159
  • Company based: USA.
  • Resolution: 0.5 mm.
  • Maximum scan volume: 200 x 200 x 205 mm.

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 was born out of a generous $183,000 funding investment.

Here’s CowTech’s video on how you assemble their 3D scanner:

As with the BQ Ciclop, the CowTech Ciclop uses Horus, the 3D software program which makes scanning a breeze. However, this new Ciclop 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.

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

6. Matter and Form MFS1V1

  •  Price: $480
  • Company based: Canada.
  • Resolution: 0.43 mm.

The MFS1V1 is a desktop 3D scanner made by Canadian tech startup Matter and Form. This low-cost 3D scanner uses 2 lasers and a HD-CMOS sensor to produce high-resolution 3D scans in full-color.

The MFS1V1 3D scanner has an accuracy of up to around 0.43mm, and is easily connectable to your computer through USB to transfer over your scans. 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 all major OS’, such as Windows 7+ and iOS10.7+.

3d scanner
Matter and Form’s 3D scanner is a good, low priced 3D scanner.

7. 3D Systems Cubify Sense

  • Price: $550
  • Company based: USA.

3D Systems have a lot of prestige in the 3D printing market as they were the first company to every commercialize additive manufacturing. With their stereolithography process in the late 1980s, 3D Systems eventually became a giant in the 3D printing market today. Now, they have released a cheap 3D scanner called the Cubify Sense.

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 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 scanner
3D printing giant 3D Systems also produce a 3D scanner, such as this Cubify Sense.

8. Occupital Structure Sensor

  • Price: $379
  • Company based: USA.

The Occupital Structure Sensor 3D scanner is a very versatile handheld 3D scanner. Originally designed for use with Apple products like the iPhone and iPad, you can also mod it for use with Windows products.

The Occupital 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 software, and is easy to transport as this cheap 3D scanner weighs just 95 grams!

You can easily transport your 3D scans over 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.

3d scanner
As it attaches easily onto an iPad, the Occupital 3D scanner is a perfect portable scanning device.

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

9. NextEngine 3D scanner

  • Price: $2,995
  • Company based: USA.

First on our list of medium-priced 3D scanners is the NextEngine 3D scanner, offering HD scanning whilst still being light and easy to carry around. Using laser triangulation with a new way of scanning, the NextEngine 3D scanner can scan unlimited sizes.

This 3D scanner therefore has applications in a variety of situations, such as scanning faces and people, moving items, large items, and more. Moreover, the scanner is accurate to 0.1mm, enabling high-quality 3D scans. It is expensive, though perhaps if you’re looking for a professional 3D scanner that isn’t $50,000, this is the one for you.

3d scanner
NextEngine’s 3D scanner may not be inexpensive, but is of a very high quality.

10. Fuel3D Scanify

  • Price: $1,490
  • Company based: UK.

Originally created by teams at the prestigious University of Oxford in the UK, the Fuel3D Scanify raised over $300,000 in a crowdfunding campaign to release their 3D scanner. The Fuel3D Scanify uses dual lasers and can take a full 3D image in just 0.1 seconds.

This 3D scanner is ideal for capturing a human face, with dimensions of up to 210 x 300 mm, and an accuracy of up to 0.25mm. The Fuel3D Scanify uses photogrammetry to 3D scan, and comes with two 3.5 megapixel cameras.

3d scanner
Fuel3D’s 3D scanner is a very good piece of kit, having gravitated from the Kickstarter platform.

11. David SLS-2 3D scanner

  • Price: $2,500
  • Company based: USA.

The David SLS-2 3D scanner uses structured light technologies to create high-quality 3D scans in a variety of industries. These include sectors like video games and animation, full-face and body scanning, archaeology, and more.

The David SLS-2 includes a rail-slide mechanism allowing the scanner to move after each frame is taken to take the same scan from a different angle. The David SLS-2 then puts all of these different frames together to create a holistic 3D model with all 360° shots included.

This versatile 3D scanner can scan objects from small pins to whole sectors of rooms with this innovative rail-slide system. It has a resolution of up to 60 microns, and can easily export these scans into .STL, .OBJ or .PLY files for 3D printing.

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The David SLS 3D scanner.

12 – Shining 3D EinScan-Pro

  • Price: $3,999
  • Company based: China.

Shining 3D produce a number of different 3D scanners for different price points. The EinScan-Pro can be used as a fixed or handheld 3D scanner to capture objects of varying sizes. The EinScan-Pro is the only scanner on this list so far that uses white light 3D scanning technologies, to increase accuracy and scan faster.

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.

Shining 3D Einscan Pro 3D scanner.jpg
The EinScan Pro 3D scanner has applications such as preserving pieces of history, as shown above.

Professional 3D Scanner: $10,000+

13. Artec EVA

  • Price: $11,500
  • Company based: Luxembourg.

This professional 3D scanner is well-known in the community for it’s excellent quality. It therefore has uses in a variety of important industries such as video games, prosthetics/orthopedics, 3D printing, and more.

Another benefit of this professional 3D scanner is the speed at which it cans nearby objects. The Artec EVA can scan full-color objects with over 2M different points, in just one second. The Artec EVA is accurate up to 100 microns, is useful at ranges between 40-100cm, and exports its 3D scans in a huge variety of file formats. What’s more, it can scan objects ‘up to a boat’s size’, depicting its use in aerospace.

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If you’re looking for a super high-quaity 3D scanner, the Artec EVA is the one for you.

14. Creaform Handyscan 700

  • Price: ~$56,000
  • Company based: Canada.

The Creaform Handyscan 700 is just an impressive piece of kit, no more words needed. Accurate up to 0.03mm and with a resolution of 0.05mm, this professional 3D scanner can produce beautifully crisp 3D scans for all your 3D scanning needs.

The Creaform Handyscan 700 has a maximum scanning area of 275 x 250 mm, and does over 480,000 measurements per second when scanning. Though it is out of the price ranges of all but the most wealthy of consumers, and high-tech professionals, this professional 3D scanner is an incredible gadget.

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The Creaform Handyscan 700 3D scanner.

15. Zeiss T-Scan CS

  • Price: $50,000
  • Company based: Germany.

The Zeiss T-Scan CS professional 3D scanner made by the German company, capable of incredibly detailed 3D scans. Despite its price tag and industrial use cases, the T-Scan is still very portable and usable in many different scenarios such as in the automotive industries.

Using laser triangulation technologies, the Zeiss T-Scan CS professional 3D scanner scans over 210,000 points per second, and has a resolution of up to 0.075mm. Moreover, it’s maximum volume of around 5 cubic meters means it can be used to potentially scan sizable parts of rooms.

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Ever wanted to 3D scan a BMW? Well now you can with the Zeiss T Scan 3D scanner.

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