Best 3D scanner for use with Rhino

I do a lot of sculpture in the EPS foam world and am constantly being asked to scan sculptures or shapes of one sort or another to machine usually in a much larger format. Frequently these pieces are sliced to fit on the router or hotwire for processing.

What is a good option in terms of 3D scanning in the $600-$2500 range that will work well with Rhino? Seems like everyone is coming out with a product but none are really getting picked up as the go to tool…

Any comments/experience would be great!


in this price range you’re rather limited if the results must be really accurate. Depending on the required results you may look for David SLS (static device) and Einscan (can be used static or handheld). Both can scan color too.

If the budget is almost zero, i´ve seen people getting usable results using a medium quality DSLR camera and open source or very cheap photogrammetry software. At higher budgets you may look for an Artec EVA or Spider, both are often available for renting.

btw. i do not think that any scanner is “compatible” with Rhino. Almost any scanner comes with its own software to produce 3d pointclouds or mesh geometry which can be imported into Rhino and other packages.


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Try PhotoScan software. Almost any digital camera will work, even a smartphone with a decent camera, but a better quality camera and lens is preferred. Most important are photos in focus with sufficient overlap. PhotoScan Standard Edition is $179 and a 30 day free trial is available. PhotoScan will output a .obj mesh file which imports directly into Rhino. It also can also export point clouds which import directly into Rhino. There is a bit of a learning curve to PhotoScan.

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Thanks @davidcockey and @clement !
I’m willing to spend some money in this case but at the low end of my range it seemed like quality was terrible and at the high end it required more processing power, software etc. maybe there is a happy medium somewhere? I’ll look into your suggestions.

Dense point photogrammetry such as used in PhotoScan requires the object have sufficient “visual” texture. I’ve had excellent results with stone and bare wood, and very good results with weathered paint. Results with paint in good condition have been mixed but generally usable. Smooth, glossy surfaces don’t work.

Download the PhotoScan software and try it on one of your carved foam sculptures.

I’m reading reviews now., the premium software is really expensive but the standard version might get me where I need to go. I’ll give it a try!

Any ideas in other arenas where shiny surface wouldn’t be a problem? Fortunately 99% of the time I have a dull object or I can just paint it a matte grey or otherwise.


for glossy objects, all kind of scanning methods (structured light, red or blue light laser and photogrammetry) can cause deviations. You can handle that by coating the part with some chalc spray, maybe mixed up with soap to prevent a fur like coating. To see differences in the results you might take a look here.

The chalk spray can be removed later using water and some q-tips in hard to reach areas.

Photogrammetry software is a larger topic, you might check out 123D Catch, 3DF Zephyr, Agisoft Photoscan, SfM & BigSFM, ContextCapture (expensive), Insight3D, OpenMVS, Pix4D, Reality Capture, ScannerKiller (not available anymore), VisualSFM… some of these are free.

Most important, you’ll need a powerful computer with lots of RAM.


@FOAMMAKER You don’t need the Professional Edition of PhotoScan. It has features needed for mapping and similar from aerial photos. I use the Standard Edition for modeling boats, monuments, houses and similar.

Thanx for the good info above.

I was wondering if anybody knows what to use to scan shiny, reflective, smooth objects that are between 1’ and 15’ large?

Thanx … Chris

I think, that my Artec Eva is very good option for creating models for Rhino.

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Can you get me a legit copy of David from just before HP monopolized it?

I’ve always wanted to try it to see how good it is to use.

Thanx … Chris


What tolerance do you get using the Eva?

Thanx … Chris

@cadman777, you might ask for that in the david community.