NextEngine 3D Scanner HD
The NextEngine 3D Scanner HD is not necessarily new to the 3D scanning market, which obviously plays in the favor of the company. Since its release a few years ago, the product has been the focus of several upgrades and continuous improvements. The consensus stays the same, however; this is a quality scanner that accomplishes its tasks with incredible accuracy and reliability. Along with its pledge to quality and its continuous improvements, NextEngine’s 100% money back guarantee has certainly helped sales and proven their level of commitment. But the scanner does sell itself, even beyond the company’s commitment. There is good reason for it being the number one selling 3D scanner on the market.
The NextEngine 3D Scanner HD offers a high fidelity scan that rivals printers in a much higher price range. It is touted by the manufacturer as, “not a cheaper 3D Scanner,” but “…a better scanner that costs less.” This scanner offers clean surface data that is generally void of pops and other inaccuracies, which eliminates hours of editing and perfecting scanned images. This allows for the use of scans in products almost automatically, cutting out the in-between steps that are needed with other scanners. All of this is possible due to NextEngine’s development of an all-new electro-optical architecture system that uses sophisticated new algorithms and an array of lasers to scan in parallel. This results in higher point throughput and much better data fidelity. Accuracy is measured at 0.005 inch with a maximum of 400 sample points per inch for macro mode. For wide mode, there is 0.015 inch accuracy with 150 sample points per inch.
NextEngine captures details at each of those points that many high-end scanners don’t. Rich, full-color photo data is gathered at each surface point. This data is optically synchronous, which means that each point holds data for geometry and color. Since there is no disconnect between color data and geometry data, there’s no skew between the two fields. Color capture is enhanced with built-in studio lighting, which offers an array of spatially diverse, diffuse illuminators. This lighting provides for shadow-free imaging, and are specially designed to provide a wide color range, improving the device’s color rendering.
This 3D scanner also offers flexibility in scan size. Eliminating the scan box and turntable eliminates any preset size limit, and with the unit’s excellent ability to compile scans into a single file, your scanning abilities are pretty much endless. Optically-locked surface color makes assembling models a snap, and with NextEngine ScanStudio software, you can place “virtual beads” on your scans, which aids in instantly aligning different views into a solitary model. After some quick software editing and alignment, your complete object will be formed after combining shots of each facet that were captured from different viewpoints, and allows you no real limits in what size of objects you scan. The depth of field is 5”-9” for close (macro) range and 15”-22” for wide (far) range. Each capture takes about 2 minutes. A complete model of your object will take approximately 12 shots total, depending on shape and size.
Further, this scanner’s high resolution capture cameras allow for the scans of even conventionally hard-to-capture surface materials and finishes. Even surfaces that are generally a challenge for this scanner can be easily overcome with NextEngine’s prep markers, PowderPens, and other surface treatments. While these are products that you can easily get on your own, we applaud NextEngine’s desire to make sure their customers are happy.
Ease of use is another major feature that the iReviews team enjoys about the 3D Scanner HD. First, this scanner doesn’t need to be calibrated before it is ready to scan. Just connect the scanner to your computer via USB and open the easy-to-use dashboard, and in no time, you are ready to rock and roll. This scanner fits into any environment with ease, with a footprint no larger than a standard business envelope. Although it is small, there is a lot to like packed into this tight space, and, it looks great while doing it. This precision instrument is beautifully detailed, and built from high quality materials. A bead-blasted anodized aluminum alloy shell is accented with crystal clear polycarbonate. Although it is not the “conversation starter” or “sculpture” that the company’s website says it is, it is still an attractive piece of technology. Its tabletop abilities make it a versatile, easy to manipulate unit. Being able to place this scanner anywhere and carry it with you with ease allows for a greater number of applications. For stationary projects, however, NextEngine offers the AutoDrive stand, which moves the scanner, as needed, to capture an even broader array of images. But, we have found that this stand does not work well for particularly large objects. Accuracy is only fairly important here since scans can, and will have to, be aligned later, using the included software.
We found the software that is included to be truly impressive. We combined shots easily by placing beads on the same spot in two views. The software matched them together in only seconds with amazing accuracy. Also, algorithms in the software help filter out clunky background images and adjust lighting for optimal scanning ability. The software makes it convenient to export in a variety of mesh formats, including STL, OBJ, VRML, and U3D. The software also allows you full customization of file sizes with intelligent polygon reduction. NextEngine’s ScanStudio Software provides everything you need to control your scanner from the settings panel. With just a few clicks, your system will automatically sequence multiple scans using simple but powerful built-in tools to align and merge multiple views into a single model. The software requires a minimum 2.5 GHz dual-core processor with 3GB RAM to run.
Further ease-of-use is on display with the software’s live high-resolution live viewfinder. On the dashboard, an image showing you exactly what you’re scanning is present. Simply use your mouse to select the area you want to scan, and then click Start. Other software is available from NextEngine, and the suite complements the other portions of the software well. ScanStudio CAD Tools allows you to take your network of points and apply them for export, comparison, autosurfacing, and other CAD-related applications. RapidWorks, another piece of the suite, uses state-of-the-art RapidForm XOR technology to transform 3D scans into parametric solid models with SolidWorks Feature Tree output.
Overall, NextEngine’s 3D Scanner HD is an excellent tool. It offers a great deal of features and extremely competent accuracy for the price, as compared to other printers with much higher price tags. NextEngine’s customer service also helps to make this device one of our favorites along with a really cool design, and we are proud to include this scanner on our list of iReviews 2015 Best 3D Scanners under $10,000.
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