3D scanners aren’t anything new in the world of makers, but Scan Dimension seeks to make scanning an object as quick any painless as possible with the SOL. While the $600 price tag can be a little painful, the SOL is a quick and easily solution that can get you up and scanning in no time. Check out the video below.
Scan Dimension has set out to make this a simple and user-friendly 3D Scanner. In the box, you’ll find the folding tent for the scanner, a USB-A to USB mini cable for the turntable, USB to USB-C cable for the camera and some documentation including a quick start guide.
Sol Scanner: Out of the box
With only four pieces that attach with thumb screws, getting the SOL Scanner setup is a breeze. The rod that connects the turntable can only be installed one way which makes alignment simple, and the 3D scanning head simple mounts with a thumbscrew. There is only one way to mount the head as well – so no need to worry about mis-alignment. Two USB cables connect the scanner and turntable to a computer. This makes the SOL Scanner pretty easy to tear down and take to another location. In fact, they also offer a hard shell case for $45.
Currently, the SOL software is only available for Windows. On Scan Dimension’s website it states the OS X version will be coming soon.
It’s a shame that you have to cover up the scanner because it does have a nice design. But, the scanner must be placed in the included black tent and covered with the included cloth for the camera and laser to capture the object correctly.
Scan Dimension includes a rubber ducky in the box, so of course this is what we’ll scan first. The process to scan one position took about 25 minutes for me. Once every angle is scanned, the SOL software needs to reconstruct the model in a point cloud. It will also ask if a scan from another orientation is required. If so, simply place the object in another stable position and the SOL will run the same scanning process again. Once completed, the software will align the scans and the assembled model opens up in a new viewing window.
SOL Scanner: Video
Completing a scan can take a bit of time – especially with multiple orientations – so SMS notifications can be enabled to let you know when the SOL has completed a task – but it’ll cost you. The scanner comes with 25 notifications but once those run out you can purchase more in packs of 100 for $5. Or, if you’re within earshot of the scanner, you can simply turn on sound notifications. These will play through whatever audio output you have enabled and are quite audible.
Two different scanning modes allow you to adjust the SOL based on the size of object being scanned. In the near-mode, objects up to 100mm (3.9-inches) in diameter and height can be scanned. When pulled back into the far-mode position that size increases to 170mm (6.69-inches).
Not everything scans perfectly. As noted on the support page of their website, dark objects have a hard time reflecting the laser beam and can therefor render an inaccurate model. I noticed this when trying to scan a Canon lens. Scan Dimension offers a couple of remedies to try in the support document.
SOL Scanner: Laser beam me up
From the assembled viewing window, the SOL software can save files to many common formats for 3D including OBJ, STL, PLY, XYE, and DAE. I was able to import the file into Blender 2.8 without any issue including a material ready to go. It’s a pretty dense model when opened up in a 3D software, but it has a lot of detail baked into it.
Importing into the 3D slicer Cura – dimensions on the model were pretty close to what I measured with a digital caliper. There was about 1mm of variance from my not-so-scientific measuring.
The file is pretty much ready to print right out of the program. If you’re looking to get started in 3D printing, check out this round up of some of the best printers for beginners.
Overall, the Scan Dimension SOL is a very easy way to to get high quality 3D scans. To get started, assemble the four pieces, download the software and place your object on the scanner. I was amazed at how easy it is to get up and running. Within about 30 minutes from opening the box you can have your first scan. At $599, it’s pricey for a hobbyist, but if you’re a maker who finds yourself in need of high-quality scans often or just want all of the tools available to you, the SOL is a great option. They often run promos and even will take some money of when trading in an old 3D Scanner.