3D body scanning

Body scanning is the process of capturing in 3D the shape of a person’s full body using a 3D scanner.

UPDATE: we have released our list of the best 3D scanners with meta-rating calculated using ratings from reliable sources. Find out which are the 10 top rated 3D scanners currently on the market!

What is 3D body scanning?

3D body scanning (full body scanning) is the process of capturing a person’s body shape in 3D. The result is a 3D file on a computer (also called 3D model). This 3D file can be modified, saved or printed on a 3D printer.

Applications of 3D body scanning range from medical to fashion and many more.

Scanning technologies used for 3D body scanning are based on images reconstruction (photogrammetry) or deformation of light (structured light).

Types of 3D body scanners

3D scanning booths

A 3D scanning booth is a cabin equipped with 3D sensors, quite similar to a photo booth.

The person enters the 3D scanning booth and is scanned in a few seconds, from all sides.

The VITUSbodyscan, a 3D scanning booth by Vitronic.

The VITUS bodyscan, a 3D scanning booth by Vitronic.

Handheld 3D scanners

A handheld 3D scanner is a portable device, manually operated by a person. This operator rotates around the subject to capture the full body scan.

Such portable 3D scanners are flexible and often used to scan body parts, rather than full body scanning.

The Artec Eva handheld 3D scanner.

The Artec Eva handheld 3D scanner.

Applications of 3D body scanning

New medical tools

3D printing prosthetics

3D body scanning can be used in the medical sector to design artificial limbs for impaired people.

Body scanning is the first step in the process of producing 3D printed prosthetics. Artificial limbs are then designed and customized from the 3D file resulting of the 3D scan, in order to fit perfectly to the patient’s body.

A prosthetic arm concept by the University of Nottingham.

A prosthetic arm. Concept made by the University of Nottingham. Image credit: Science Museum.

Doctor using a Creaform portable 3D scanner to capture a baby's body shape.

Doctor using a Creaform portable 3D scanner to capture a baby’s body shape.

Collecting specific metrics

Full body scanning allows physicians to capture in 3D the precise shape and body features of a patient.

This type of data is useful to track and monitor health and fitness, through specific metrics collected with the 3D body scanner. It is possible to then deliver precise diagnosis from the 3D body scan obtained, and to prescribe a customized diet or treatment.

Made-to-measure clothing

Creating virtual fitting rooms

A 3D body scan offers a precise 3D mapping and rendering of a person’s body. It can be used to create virtual fitting rooms where shoppers visualize how clothes would fit them, without actually wearing them.

Some apparel retailers already utilize virtual fitting rooms using 3D body scanning technology. The concept is simple: Once they’ve saved their body profile, customers can try on many items from their home or from the in-store 3D scanning booth, and ensure that what they purchase will fit them.

Australian company mPort created the mPod, a fully automated 3D scanning booth able to map a body in seven seconds only.

Virtual fitting room interface by Fits.me.

Virtual fitting room interface by Fits.me.

Creating custom clothing with a virtual mannequin

Full body scanning allows fashion designers to create custom clothing, perfectly made to fit. It is possible to 3D scan a person’s body to produce a virtual mannequin, and then use a 3D design software to create a piece of clothing made-to-measure for that mannequin.

3D printed figurines

3D body scanning is also used to create 3D figurines or 3D portraits. A 3D portrait is similar to a picture, but in three dimensions.

The first step to obtain a figurine is to enter a 3D scanning booth and gets a 3D model of the face or the body. The 3D file is then 3D printed on a 3D printer. The result is a miniature figurine of the person.

Much like a framed photography, 3D figurines can make a memorable gift for any special event. Nowadays, many companies, such as Shapify, offer this type of services, from full body scanning to printing and shipping the figurine.

For a deep dive article about 3D figurines here are listed the best multi color 3D printers.