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When and why should I use spray powder for 3D scanning?

When and why should I use spray powder for 3D scanning?

At last, a spray powder you don’t need to clean up!

We’re going to let you in on a well-kept secret: regardless of what anybody says, using a coat of spray powder on an object for 3D scanning will always help the process; it’s not always necessary, but it an ideal part of the process. A matte white surface allows for ultimate light detection and leads to optimal, quality 3D scan results. This is especially useful if you are trying to scan clear material, pitch-black objects or shiny metal parts.

Here is an example of a highly challenging object scanned with a peel 2—with and without spray powder:

Part scanned directly, without spraypowder.

Part scanned directly, without spraypowder.

Same part scanned with a coat of spray powder.

Same part scanned with a coat of spray powder.

Actual part for reference

Actual part for reference.

As shown, the difference is staggering and makes a huge difference on how usable the 3D scanning data is.

Convinced? If so, you might now be wondering what options you have.

Vanishing sprays:

These sprays are made of a fine powder that sublimates over time; it stays on for a few hours and progressively disappears to leave the part as clean as it was at the start. This is indeed as neat as it sounds.

We have tested two sprays: Cyclododecane Spray and AESUB Vanishing 3D Scanning Spray

Both options work equally well and create a highly suitable matte white coat over the surface. The Cyclododecane Spray tends to be a lumpier, somewhat like a thicker, slightly bumpier coat of frost on your object. The AESUB Spray was very uniform, easy to apply and therefore our favorite.

You can see the magic in action here.

Semi-permanent options:

Of course, one of the inconveniences of using a vanishing powder is that it will eventually vanish! If you wish to leave it on for a while so you can scan over a few days for example, you should go for a longer lasting option; in any case, you can always wash it off later.

Our favorite option is Magnaflux SKD-S2, easy to apply it spready evenly on the part and leaved a perfectly uniform layer of white powder. Overall this is the best option if you don’t mind cleaning the part up afterwards; it’s also cheaper.

Permanent options:

Another alternative that works very well is simply to use primer; white or grey will work best. Of course, primer is meant to stay on whatever surface you apply it to so there’s no cleaning with option. It should still be a consideration that depends on the situation as it is a mess-free solution and the cheapest option.
Armed with these solutions, you should be able to turn about any challenging material into a true 3D scanning work of art.

The human body: A true work of art

The human body: A true work of art
In 1501, Michelangelo was only 26 years old, but he was already the most famous and best-paid artist in his days. This is when he accepted the challenge of sculpting a large-scale David.

3D scanning the human body down to the finest details

3D scanning the human body down to the finest details

We are now over 7.5 billion people on Earth and, although some individuals are quite similar, no two people are exactly the same. With so many different faces, it’s no surprise that, over the course of evolution, the human brain has become a real Jedi master at recognizing the finest of details that set faces apart. This is likely the reason why we can usually easily distinguish an actual famous actor from a wax reproduction; our brains just figure it out! In order to be convincing, a statue made from a 3D scan needs to be accurate and have a high geometry resolution.

Improving the quality of 3D scans was a goal that incited USIMM to use peel 3d. Specialized in the machining of non-metallic materials, the company constantly deals with artistic projects and wanted to demonstrate the evolution of its CNC capabilities by comparing the results its team obtained from machining the 3D shape of an employee a few years ago to what they obtained today.

Scanning a living person is particularly tricky, according to Ms. Lea Lepage. “The scanners are typically very sensitive to micro movements, including something as subtle as breathing. It is therefore very challenging to scan a person.” To accomplish this feat, the USIMM team required a scanner that could tolerate a certain amount of movement—all while keeping a high level of resolution and accuracy in check. With a resolution of up to 0,5mm and a volumetric accuracy of 0,5mm/m; this is precisely what the peel 3d scanner had to offer.

They took the same employee, put him is a similar pose and proceeded with the scan, the same way they did a few years back. Once the scan completed, USIMM sent the 3D scan data obtained to their 5 axis CNC machine and made a full-size polystyrene reproduction of the employee. The results were incredibly stunning.


Figure 1: Machined 3D scan obtained in 2013 with a Kinect (left) vs 3D scan obtained with a peel 3d scanner (right) 

The scan previously made with a Skanect machine did not compare with the results generated with peel 3d. “There was quite a big difference between the previous and current project,” said Lea. The new statue was much more realistic and more accurately represented reality. This test was very successful and is sure to convince a lot of USIMM’s potential new customers interested in having their own bodies turned into actual statues!