New Sense Scanner Brings Mainstream 3D Printing Potential

3D Systems’ Sense scanner is one step closer to bringing 3D printing to the consumer’s desktop. The $400 scanner is a small, handheld device that users wave around the desired object for printing. The printing process itself is still time-consuming and costly, making the mainstream possibilities for the technology limited for now. But the new product is a significant advance for the industry and captures good detail with greater ease than ever before.

“‘Game changer’ isn’t a term that ought be thrown around loosely,” Engadget writes about the 3D scanner. But the site was highly impressed with 3D Systems’ newest product. The scanner allows consumers to scan objects up to 10×10 feet, and though it’s not portable (it requires a plug), it can be plugged into a Windows device.

“Mainstream adoption feels like a bit of stretch, however,” suggests Engadget, noting that $400, though relatively affordable for such an advanced product, is “still a lot to pay for a technology without a proven consumer track record.” A lack of mainstream desktop 3D printers means the cost of printing is pretty high, and not something consumers will likely use regularly for that reason.

One way the scanner has been used to document important life moments is by one of the company’s reps, who used the technology to scan his expectant wife. A promotional video on the 3D Systems site shows a couple about to get married who 3D print models of each other for a personalized bride and groom atop their wedding cake.

“Sense comes with an intuitive user interface with easy and automated zoom, track, focus, crop, enhance and share tools,” explains the press release. “Sense printables can be sent to your Cube and CubeX 3D printers, or directly uploaded to Cubify.com for cloud printing in a range of materials, including Ceramix, Aluminix and Clear.”

One interesting feature is the software’s on-screen visualization of the object you’re scanning as its being scanned. According to Engadget, it even detects when you’re too close or too far from the object you’re scanning, and it can distinguish the object from the background.

While it might have a ways to go before becoming truly portable and affordable, Engadget notes, “it’s hard not to be excited by the tremendous potential future for mainstream 3D scanning and printing that the Sense represents.”

The Engadget post includes a 7-minute video demo of the Sense scanner.