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Video Fuel 3-D Claims to be a High-Res, Point and Shoot 3-D Scanner (Video) 25

The Fuel 3-D website has a blurb that says, "The world’s first handheld point-and-shoot, full color 3D scanner. Our planned list price is $1500 but by placing your advanced order now you pay only $1,250. Fire up your creativity!" We've thought about getting a 3-D scanner ever since we first messed with a 3-D printer, but we've thought more about something in the sub-$300 price range than in $1000+ territory. But that's just us. There is no doubt a healthy market for 3-D scanners to use in commercial applications where $1250 (or even $1500) is hardly worth noticing. Ah, well. Maybe we need to look at the The DAVID website which describes their device as an "Incredibly Low-Cost 3D Scanner for Everyone!" Their 3-D starter kit is only $529 from a randomly-selected U.S. reseller, which isn't too bad compared to the alternatives. But waiting for prices in this market niche to come down is another possibility, and it's one a whole lot of individuals -- including us -- and smaller companies will probably choose. (Alternate Video Link)

Tim: So Stuart, what are we looking at here?

Stuart Mead: So here we are looking at your image that we’ve just taken, we’ve got a 3D image of your face we took it just like a photograph. We use cameras to take the image and so you see that the data and the size _____00:46 off and it is probably split at the end.

Tim: You can’t make my eyes the same shape, can you?

Stuart Mead: We can get some software to do that probably, but not here. Now this is sifting around the data, you see, now you can look at the sides, so you can see the data gets stretched because we can’t see around the corners, so we’ve just taken out that stretched data.

Tim: You’re selling both the software and hardware?

Stuart Mead: Yes, the software comes with the hardware. You need both together to make it work.

Tim: How does this differ from, for instance, other forms of 3D scanning? From Kinect and other things?

Stuart Mead: Yeah. So we are a completely different technology with a completely different application. So we are photometric and stereometric combined and we focus on an image about this big and we use a very high resolution, we end up with a very high resolution. Other systems that you are talking about look at macro-environments which is not what we do. And they don’t do what we do. So it’s a completely different technology application.

Tim: What are the uses that you see for this?

Stuart Mead: Well, it’s being used at the moment from everything from medical to front end 3D printing to gaming, animation, arts and crafts—all sort of applications.

Tim: Can you quantify the resolution over here?

Stuart Mead: So, what we are we looking at here, you can probably see it, but I’ll show it on the screen, so you can actually zoom in here, here’s the mesh, so you can see the mesh we’ve reduced, we’ve got three points per millimeter, so you can see we’ve reduced it to a very, very clean mesh very neat. We’ve filled in all the holes and we’ve told the algorithms that there are no holes that fills in the nostrils directly into printing. So we can look at that resolution in different angles, so you remember that we took three images with three different flashes, so we can actually look at the different ways that the lighting illuminates the face. If we go to the actual geometry, you can see how the shadows cast on the face give us the detail and this is how we end up with such a high-resolution image by using photometry.

Tim: I think I look a lot better in alabaster.

Stuart Mead: Yeah, well. I don’t know. It looks a little bit like a death mask, doesn’t it? I’ll bring it back to color here. And of course, if you wanted a larger area, you take a number of photographs and you stitch them together.

Tim: What is the file that you’re actually outputting, what’s the format, is it an SDL file?

Stuart Mead: Yes, we use SDL, OBJ and PLY.

Tim: What do medical versus some other applications tend to use, do they like to use _3:37__.

Stuart Mead: Well, if they want the texture file they will take an OBJ and if they want just the underlying geometry, they will use an SDL file, because an SDL file is great for going to 3D printing.

Tim: How long this has been in development?

Stuart Mead: Well, the company originally sold the product for a medical device for wound care back three years ago, but this is the first—the new cameras which will launch next week for using in a more consumer environment.

Tim: And for consumers price is important.

Stuart Mead: Sure.

Tim: How much will this cost?

Stuart Mead: So, the U.S. price is $1500 and there are some specials on today on the $1500. That is the hardware and the software, so it’s a really, really _____4:15 price.

Tim: And you’re not limited to faces of course, you can also do anything of the same general size?

Stuart Mead: Yes, absolutely. We are doing faces here because it’s very interesting to see what’s up with 3D faces, but you can see here, I can show you images of – this is a book cover for instance, we’ve got corks, this is an example of what you can do with the corks, the bark of a tree, so it pretty much likes anything that’s kind of rounded with lots of good texture, color or geometry.

Tim: And the improvements here are huge in the last few years in scanning as well as printing 3D?

Stuart Mead: Correct.

Tim: What’s the next step?

Stuart Mead: I think – well, I think printing needs to get – 3D printing needs to get quicker. And scanning I think needs to get a lower price and that’s what we’ve hopefully done, I mean scanning has traditionally been very expensive.

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Fuel 3-D Claims to be a High-Res, Point and Shoot 3-D Scanner (Video)

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm pretty sure that $529 scanner is useless without the $2,800 software...

  • by smart_ass ( 322852 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @04:32PM (#47167199)

    we are not aware of any of these handheld systems that collect color data in addition to 3D geometry. [] [] []

    I am sure there are others.
    Having used all three of the above linked devices, the key is in the software. The hardware is but a small piece of the puzzle.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Another, this time shameless plug: Antera 3D [] using the same method as Fuel 3D.
      Instant 3D visualization (several images per second), resolution 5 times better than Fuel 3d, on the market for 4 years.

    • by Alef ( 605149 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @04:50PM (#47167335)

      Also, calling their accuracy, by which they mean noise level on a perfectly flat surface, of 0,3 mm on a 35 cm (diagonal) field of view "extremely high resolution" is quite a stretch. High compared to other cheap scanners, possibly, but at least an order of magnitude worse than industrial scanners of similar format.

      I think it is an interesting concept to combine photometric measurements with geometric stereo in a single handheld unit, trying to get the best of both worlds, so to speak. But it certainly feels like they are overselling it.

    • by Alef ( 605149 )
      After having read some on their website, I get the sense that the primary novelty of Fuel3D is not the technology, but who they are marketing it towards. There are plenty of scanners, like the ones you mention, that have equal or better performance characteristics, but they pretty much always seem to be marketed towards either medical applications or manufacturing industries. Fuel3D, on the other hand, have the slogan "Fire up your creativity", visit Maker Faire, and so on. I imagine they hope to break into
  • So I can play around with a part in [] without caring about the measured tolerances.

  • by mspohr ( 589790 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @06:00PM (#47167743)

    OK. I know nothing about 3D scanners but the subject of TFA and the others mentioned here all seem to be just stereo image capture. These might be useful for something but certainly not for duplicating the object in a 3D printer.
    To me, real 3D captures an object from all sides... a 360 degree sphere. These 3D cameras just capture one side view and try to calculate depth of that side from stereopsis.
    So... beyond making slides for my View-Master, what good it this? []

    • by Alef ( 605149 )

      They use stereopsis for coarse scale depth and photometric stereo [] (three directions from the looks of it) for finer scale structures. And they seem to be using some tracking target to compensate for motion between these captures. Not a bad idea per se, but I don't think their numbers are particularly remarkable.

      I'm not aware of any 3D capturing technique that captures an object "from all sides", unless it's comprised of multiple individual scanners who's data you then stitch into a single model, or a moving

  • Begin-Stupid-Rant
    I really hate it when a person writes about themselves in the first person plural. For some reason, it just irritates me. How many of you [the poster] are there? If only one, please write like it. It feels like you rubbed my fur the wrong way when you wrote that.

  • I'm an Industrial Designer and Manufacturing Engineer with a 3D printing startup. I've used just about every 3D scanner on the market right now at various points in my career (I'm also a beta developer for the Kinect for Windows V2); including the Creaform, Artec, and Vorum.

    There are two key differentiators here I need to point out for y'all:

    1) Scanning speed, and ability to sweep: this is a pro and con about the Fuel. Unlike other scanners like those I just mentioned, it cannot do a sweeping scan, your s

I've noticed several design suggestions in your code.