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CSIRO develops low-cost 3D scanner

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article image CSIRO's 3D scanner gives the complete picture.

CSIRO has developed technology to obtain three-dimensional scans of small objects. The digital image file created provides extra information about the object’s surface shape and texture and does not require special glasses or other equipment to view.

Existing 3D scanners are large and expensive, requiring technical lighting and camera set-ups and are used in specialised industrial applications to record

shapes for computer animation or model the exteriors of vehicles. CSIRO claims 3D scanning can be easily incorporated into designs of new mass market flatbed scanners, fax machines or photocopiers, making it accessible to the home and office user.

“You could fit one of these on your desk,” says Anna McDonald, a commercial analyst at CSIRO. “They would also be relatively inexpensive – [slightly more than a conventional scanner] rather than the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars you’d pay for existing 3D scanners.”

The technology generates 3-D scans of small objects, up to around 10 cm high, and could be useful to display jewellery, for example, over the Internet. Changming Sun, a research scientist at CSIRO sees interesting possibilities for his 3D scanner in the production sector, specifically in QC and testing. “It could be used to accurately determine, for example, the height of the mounted components,” he says.

It’s taken Sun six months to develop the technology Although he’s had the idea “for some time”.

Setting up a new production line calls for significant investment, however CSIRO believes its technology can be quite easily designed into currently-available mass market imaging products. The organization is approaching manufacturers of imaging and office equipment to discuss licensing and sale of the technology and hopes to create a new industry segment for low cost 3D scanners of small objects.

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