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Scanning small objects can actually be much more difficult than scanning large objects. Though there might be less set-up and legwork involved in the 3D scanning of anything from tiny computer parts to jewelry to dental items and just about anything else you can hold in your hand, manufacturers are often seeking a higher-quality scan with more detail. That need for detail will ultimately help manufacturers decide what type and make of 3D scanner is right for their needs.

What to look for in a 3D scanner for small manufacturing

Unless you’re an expert in 3D technology, it’s difficult to figure out what scanner amongst the dozens and dozens on the market might be the best for your needs. What qualities and features should your scanner possess?

  • User-friendliness – Ideally, the scanner you choose will only require a minimum amount of training to operate. You should be able to set it up quickly and it can likely be pretty compact as well, depending on the size of the items to be scanned. The idea is to be able to do this on your own or to train a member of your staff to do the scanning. That saves both time and money!
  • Cutting-edge quality – For small objects with lots of detail, you want a scanner that uses cutting-edge technology to produce the best digital copy of each object. That might include features such as two cameras or a dual axis rotation system. Compare and contrast features as you shop for a 3D scanner for your small objects. Remember, while it’s always tempting to go for the cheapest option, that isn’t always best for the unique needs associated with small object 3D scanning.
  • Excellent software – A 3D scanner is only as good as the software that accompanies it. When you are shopping for a scanner for your small objects, look for one for which both scanning and exporting is simple. The less user input necessary, the quicker you can scan, and you won’t have to offer an abundance of time-consuming training to those who will be doing the scanning.

Applications for small object scanning

There are a number of reasons why you may need to use a 3D scanner in your business.

  • Reverse engineering – Maybe you need to modify or redesign a small part. Perhaps you lack a blueprint for a part you have to reproduce. No problem! 3D scanning can help you accomplish either. Also, very precise 3D measurements will allow you to take new parts you’re creating and fit them together with “legacy” parts, forming a seamless coupling thanks to the preciseness of 3D scanners. And, in addition, the ability to do this yourself will likely save weeks of work and perhaps thousands of dollars as well.
  • Quality control – No doubt you want your product quality levels to be consistently high. That’s how you keep current customers and obtain new ones! A scan done by a cutting-edge 3D scanner ensures accuracy at levels most wouldn’t be able to see with their eyes. It doesn’t get much better than that!

What kind of 3D scanner should I consider?

For 3D scanning of small objects, many companies opt for a handheld scanner. They’re versatile, easy to use, and the price is generally attractive to business owners. Which you choose will depend on a variety of different factors, primarily how much detail and definition you need in your scans. With a handheld scanner, the object you’re scanning remains still and the scanner is moved as needed.

You might also opt for a desktop or stationary scanner. This is generally mounted to an arm or tripod and is fixed to a particular location. Instead of picking up and moving the device as you would with a handheld scanner, you’ll need to pick up the object and adjust it for various views as you scan. Some software will merge the various scans as you go but, in some cases, you may have to do that on your own. However, you will likely get better resolution and accuracy with a stationary scanner.


At 3DRE, we are well-versed in a variety of 3D scanning options for small manufacturing and can help you determine which is right for your business. We also offer 3D scanning and printing services for your convenience and are experienced in working with a variety of industries. For more information, call us at 604-910-0165 or complete the contact form on this website.