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Why Using Low-Cost 3D Scanners in Professional Applications Can Be a Costly Mistake

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Why Using Low-Cost 3D Scanners in Professional Applications Can Be a Costly Mistake

Every year, communities like Pinshape and publish buying guides of TOP affordable 3D scanners on the market, many of them for consumer applications. However, what about high-end 3D scanners for industrial and professional applications ?

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Could it be that the small presence of metrology-grade 3D scanners in these buying guides influence engineers and product designers to opt for low-cost 3D scanners to accomplish their professional responsibilities? This blog aims to complement these guides and explains why resorting to a low-cost 3D scanning option in professional applications can turn out to be a costly mistake down the line.

Engineers and designers who need industrial features for their scanning process but believe they can achieve the same results and benefits from a cheap scanner risk being disappointed.

Options between low-cost and high-end 3D scanners
Comparison between two categories of portable 3D scanners


Five reasons behind the price of industrial portable 3D scanners


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To perform their work, engineers and designers require a 3D scanner which features significant accuracy to guarantee exact results. The gap between approved or discarded parts can be as little as 0.01 mm. They also need a significant resolution to maintain good positioning. Indeed, if data is incorrectly positioned, aligned, or integrated, it is the equivalent of taking a picture in an unstable environment.

In addition to accuracy and resolution, other parameters characterize industrial 3D  scanners: Speed is highly expected in order to reduce measurement time and accelerate capture rates, acquisition rates, and transfer rates.

Versatility is also necessary to be able to scan a variety of parts, regardless of their material, shape, color, or size. Finally, ease of use is important because it influences people’s work quality and the results they get.

Without these parameter values, engineers and designers could generate bad scans and collect wrong data, which could put the projects they are working on —and their own job— in jeopardy.

3D data result
high-end scanner result
3D data result
low-end-scanner result



Metrology-grade 3D scanners are designed so engineers and designers can accomplish their professional responsibilities while low-cost 3D scanners are more suitable for non-industrial applications, especially when accuracy is not a critical issue.

Affordable 3D scanners are perfect for ludic experience in day-to-day life, while high-end 3D scanners provide professionals with quality performances and accurate results.

The history tree is saved in CAD software. If a feature is modified (e.g., increase or decrease of a hole dimensions), then all related features will be updated without having to redo anything.
Compared to other software, CAD software is limited to mesh edition—cleaning mesh, removing noise, and filling holes—as well as with the alignment. Some CAD software does not even enable designers to edit the mesh and only enables to use it as a visual reference.
applications for portable 3D scannersnon-industrial application
applications for portable 3D scannersindustrial application

Low-cost 3D scanners are often packaged with only hardware in a box, while industrial 3D scanners are not limited to that. They come with software to enable data acquisition and a calibration procedure to ensure measurement accuracy. Moreover, manufacturers of high-end 3D scanners continue to improve their software performances even after the sale closed.


Therefore, 3D scanning professionals should demand better than consumer (or prosumer) quality. The reason is simple: You get what you pay for. You cannot purchase a metrology-grade 3D scanner for the price of Do It Yourself (DIY) 3D scanners and expect the same efficiency.

In the white paper, Five reasons behind the price of industrial portable 3D scanners, we push our analysis further and make a comparison between the two types of scanners—low-cost 3D scanners and high-end 3D scanners—in order to demystify which applications are more suitable for one type of sensor rather than the other one. We also question the significant price difference between the two scanner grades and why the specifications seem to be comparable. Find the answers and much more by downloading the white paper here.

Five reasons behind the price of industrial portable 3D scanners


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Article written by Creaform


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