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.
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.