Creating 3D Models using an EinScan Desktop 3D Scanner and Clay

The use of a desktop 3D scanner alongside a 3D printer provides many additional benefits for schools and opens up a whole new world of 3D modelling possibilities for students. 3D scanners allow you to create exact replica 3D models of anything you can scan.

A major benefit of this technology is providing students with the ability to create sculpted 3D printed models using clay or other modelling materials. In Design and Technology this allows students more design freedom and the ability to create ergonomic sculpted products and parts that are difficult to create using 3D modelling software. It also opens up the technology more for use in Art and Design for creating sculpted pieces of art work in a plastic medium in a variety of colours and artwork that consists of multiple identical shapes/forms. At Primary school level it makes the technology more accessible, particularly to younger pupils who have limited skills with 3D modelling software.

In this blog, we revisit a previous project to take you through the process of creating a 3D model from a clay model using the Einscan SE 3D Scanner.

STEP 1: CREATE A CLAY MODEL OF YOUR DESIGN

In this example, the design brief was to design and make a unique, interesting and functional doorstop.

Using pre-mixed packet clay I fashioned a simple wedge shape, I gave it eyes and a mouth then rolled another piece of clay into a simple shell to make a snail shaped doorstop. After a bit of surface smoothing to get rid of the most obvious lumps, the snail was ready to scan.

STEP 2: PREPARE FOR 3D SCANNING

For this project I used the entry level EinScan-SE desktop scanner with turntable to perform the scanning. When the scanner is first set up in a new location, or if it has been moved at all between uses, it needs to be calibrated prior to use. This is the point at which I was introduced to the EinScan Desktop Software which is available as a free download. The software seamlessly guided me through the calibration process, with simple step-by-step instructions, calibration took less than five minutes and then I was ready to scan.

The video below takes you through this process step-by-step as well as guiding you through the process of scanning an object.

STEP 3: SCAN THE CLAY MODEL

Simon Snail was positioned in the centre of the turntable and by following the prompts in the software, the scan was started. As the scan progressed a 3D image of the model appeared in the software and more details were added to this image as the clay model was rotated on the turntable and more details were captured. Overall the scan took around 3 minutes to complete and I was amazed at the quality and level of detail of the scanned image. If the model is complex and some areas can not be scanned you can re-orientate the model and do another scan to capture any missing details.

Tip: Ensure that the clay model has set before performing the scan, then the shape cannot be altered when handling it between scans.

The scan was so detailed that it showed up every imperfection in my model, but I soon learnt that you can use the software to smooth out some of the imperfections (phew!) and also to make a surface mesh that “waterproofs” the 3D model. This means that the entire surface outline will print, even if there are some deep or awkward crevices that have not been captured on the surface scan.

STEP 4: SLICING AND 3D PRINTING THE 3D MODEL FILE

Save the final watertight 3D model as an STL file, then open this in your slicing software and slice the file. At this stage you can resize the model to make it larger or smaller.

Finally 3D print your scanned model.

In The Classroom

I am really excited about the potential for combining 3D scanning with 3D printing. It provides up a number of applications and educational benefits for students. Immediately it allows students with limited 3D CAD modelling skills to create 3D models that would be very difficult or impossible for them to produce using software only. In particular I can envisage many projects within art and design for creating 3D printed sculptures and within design technology for developing ergonomic products with more of a sculpted form that can be more easily rendered than using traditional 3D CAD modelling.

Example product design projects could include designing ergonomic pens, kitchen implements/tools, handheld technology controllers or designing adaptations of common products to enable people with poor motor skills, grip or missing digits the independence to use them.

Scanning can also be of benefit to schools by providing a way to renew or replace educational resources. For example if part of a set of a physical classroom resources is lost or broken, the part can be scanned and replacement parts can be 3D printed. This will save schools from having to purchase complete new sets.

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