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  • 1.  3D Object Scanning

    Posted 11-02-2020 08:05 PM
    We are exploring 3D scanning of objects in our collection to turn into online digital objects users can turn for 360 views. Has anyone done this before and have recommendations? It seems like you can purchase 3D cameras but we are wondering whether we might use a service as well. Thanks!

    Kirsten Tashev
    VP Collections & Exhibitions
    Computer History Museum
    Mountain View CA

  • 2.  RE: 3D Object Scanning

    Posted 11-03-2020 07:08 AM
    Interesting for "normal" objects.  Our cast collection recently was the subject of such a project.  Not sure they do anything other than sculpture, but you can contact

    Here's their website where you will see some from our collection:

    Vivian F. Zoë, Director
    Slater Memorial Museum
    108 Crescent Street, Norwich CT 06360
    860-425-5560 vox
    860-885-0379 fax

    "Inspiration is for amateurs - the rest of us just show up and get to work," Chuck Close, 2003

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  • 3.  RE: 3D Object Scanning

    Posted 11-03-2020 02:23 PM

    Hello, Kirsten -

    3D imaging can be done in a few different ways.  Structured light scanning is generally quicker and easier, although there can be significant investment in equipment and training.  (The Artec Space Spider is an excellent scanner choice, and it costs about $25,000.)  Photogrammetry can yield very good 3D models, but is generally more time consuming to accomplish, as the object must first be photographed from multiple perspectives (often requiring dozens of photos for a good reconstruction).  Photogrammetry software can be somewhat costly, but this method is generally considered to be the less expensive way to get 3D reconstructions.  If you are interested in considering contracting out for this service, I know of a very capable provider on the west coast whom I've worked with many times, and I would be happy to make an introduction. 



    Michael Holland
    Michael Holland Productions

    Redmond, WA USA

  • 4.  RE: 3D Object Scanning

    Posted 11-04-2020 10:29 AM
    We recently received a local grant to purchase a 3D scanner for our Education department to use in our new virtual programming initiatives and more. We went with the Einscan-SP Desktop scanner (a structured light scanner), which retails at about $2,600.

    So far we have found it very simple to set up and use (I have no prior background in 3D scanning) and reasonably quick (~30-60 minutes per object with prep, set up, rendering, exporting, etc.). At this point, we have mostly scanned small objects that fit on the automatic turntable, but it has the capability of scanning larger objects in segments. The software automatically aligns individual scans and I have found the to work really well 95% of the time. The quality of the models is sufficient for our purposes and I believe will increase as we learn. 

    If you would like to look at what we have scanned so far, you can find the 3D models here:

    Let me know if you have any other questions about this particular scanner and our experiences with it.

    Casey McCabe
    Education Content Specialist
    Bishop Museum of Science and Nature
    Bradenton FL

  • 5.  RE: 3D Object Scanning

    Posted 11-04-2020 11:05 AM
    One of the best ways for museums to begin this type of work (which is incredibly helpful to make collections more accessible in so many ways, including low vision learners, and even more critical during the pandemic with fewer in person engagements) is to work with a university in your community.  They have the expensive equipment, know how to use it and under the watchful eye of your collections managers, can be an excellent partner to work with.  (In my experience, university professors in this subject are also thrilled to have something interesting to 3D scan.) As you're in CA, you should be able to find willing collaborators.
    Best wishes, 

    Laura Hansen
    National Outreach Manager
    Smithsonian Affiliations
    Washington DC

  • 6.  RE: 3D Object Scanning

    Posted 11-05-2020 09:24 AM
    Lots of considerations here. You will want to think about if the scans you are doing will be primarily for visitors and interpretation. Depending upon the hardware and software you choose you will have a great spectrum of of outcomes from incredibly detailed and useful for documentation, conservation and preservation purposes to just relatively accurate models that capture an object, but do not offer great detail and will not be useful for archive and conservation. This digital documentation can provide a permanent archive and opportunities for modeling, digital restoration, and conservation applications to be developed. Additionally, fragile pieces or architectural details can be replicated or displayed in a variety of ways utilizing these methods. 

    The size of the objects will also dictate the hardware you want to consider. There are very cheap options for objects the size of say a shoe box or a skull. There are also handheld scanners that can be used to capture larger objects, As stated in this stream you have choices between photogrammetry and Lidar laser scanning (most accurate). I agree with Laura that reaching out to a local university is your best bet. Universities are exploring 3D scanning and immersive technologies and always are interested in experimentation and iteration. My first work with 3D scanning was done this way where we were able to get initial scanning and models done pro-bono as the university was very interested in documenting art objects and cultural heritage sites.

    Some basic definitions:

    3D laser Scanning: 3D scanning is the process of capturing digital information about the shape of an object with equipment that uses a laser or light to measure the distance between the scanner and the object. ... 3D scanning can capture data of very small objects all the way up to full size aircraft and buildings. 

    Photogrammetry: Photogrammetry refers to the practice of deriving 3D measurements from photographs. 

    • Landscape and Wide Area Modeling: Multiple overlapping photos of the ground are taken as the aircraft flies along a flight path. Production of Mapping products such as Digital Elevation Models, Digital Terrain Models, Surface Models and other cartographic products such as contour and slope maps, can be created. These aerial mapping data can be merged with ground based mapping and laser scanning and produce wide area 3D models of landscape and architectural sites 
    • Close-range Photogrammetry the camera is close to the subject and is typically hand-held or on a tripod (but can be on a vehicle too). Usually this type of photogrammetry is for drawings, 3D models, measurements and point clouds.  

    Mark Osterman, Ed.D.
    Digital Experience Manager and Head of Education
    Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami
    Coal Gables, FL

  • 7.  RE: 3D Object Scanning

    Posted 11-10-2020 08:35 PM
    Hi Kristen,

    I actually did a project really similar to the one you're looking to complete for my undergraduate thesis project.  For mine, I 3D scanned an object at a local history museum using an iPad attachment scanner, and then worked with the digital model to create a 3D print that could be handled by visitors.  Besides just doing the actual scanning, I also did a lot of research on 3D scanning/printing technologies, and how museums have successfully used it in the past.

    First, I would definitely recommend reaching out to local universities like other people in the thread suggested.  I luckily had my college's resources at my disposal for my project, but I'm sure there's students or programs who would be more than excited to gain hands-on experience through a collaboration.  I specifically worked with Industrial Design students who had knowledge of CAD modeling, and faculty who had experience in 3D scanning for prosthetic creation, but I'm sure there are other programs that have the knowledge and tools to help you out.  Collaborations are also a really great way to get assistance on more technical projects and allow students to have hands-on practice; my college had a lot of collaborative opportunities with local museums and businesses and the people in my program got a lot of benefit and experience from them.

    As for the scanner I used, I borrowed one from the departments that I mentioned above.  It was called a Structure Sensor, and it's an attachment that you fit onto an iPad.  Looking at their website, it seems like they retail for under $550, but are contingent on having an iPad at your disposal.  The sensor was also great for capturing the general shape of an object with little or no fine details, but depending on what you're looking to scan it may not capture enough detail to be worthwhile.  Another thing to consider with the quality of the scanner or scanning method is how much post-work you'll have to do to create a satisfactory 3D model.  I had to tweak mine a bunch since the scanner struggled to capture some parts of the object, and teaching myself the CAD software was definitely a huge time investment.  This might be where students would be useful again; if you were able to enlist the help of students who are practiced in this software it wouldn't be too difficult to create a good model even if the scanning itself doesn't yield perfect results.

    Finally, I think the scanner and resources you'll need will depend a lot on what you're looking to digitize.  Objects that are made of reflective materials (glass, metal, etc.) scan really poorly, since it's hard for the scanner to capture its surface easily.  Objects with small or moving parts are also tough to get down right.  I did a lot of research for my thesis on different scanning methods and considerations to have and I have those resources still if you'd like me to pass them along!  Someone else mentioned Photogrammetry which is definitely a viable option, but it does require a lot of post-work to get a good model from it.

    If you want to look at any of my research more in-depth, the link to my thesis is here: .  Otherwise, if you want to reach out, my email address is; I'd be more than happy to pass along my resources or help out in any way I can! 

    Elizabeth Carr
    Rochester Institute of Technology, Museum Studies & Digital Humanities and Social Sciences
    Rochester NY