Disclaimer: the comments and opinions expressed in this review are the results of our own (limited!) experience with the product. As always, we try to provide context to give a fair overview of the product. We strive to remain impartial and unbiased, and we have not received any payment or compensation of any form for writing this article. RangeVision lend us a Smart 3D scanner for free.
This article was updated in January 2018 to reflect the evolutions of the RangeVision software (ScanCenter and MergeCenter) and their influence on the Smart’s capabilities.
Today, we‘re testing the RangeVision Smart, a desktop 3D scanner. This article aims to give a fair evaluation of this affordable 3D scanner through the 3D scanning of standard 3D objects.
RangeVision is a Russian company with products available in more than 20 countries, through a dense network of resellers, the majority of them being in Europe and Asia. RangeVision has been selling professional 3D scanners for more than a decade with their Standard Plus and Advanced lineups.
RangeVision 3D scanners are based on structured light technology. The basic principle: a video projector casts a pattern on a 3D surface. The surfaces modifies the pattern in a specific way which is captured by 2 cameras. This pattern deformation allows the 3D scanner to calculate the 3D surface’s topology and to create a 3D mesh.
RangeVision recently introduced an affordable desktop 3D scanner called the Smart. The Smart is available in 3 colors: grey, red and yellow.
Objects used for tests 3D scans: a wooden hand (usually a drawing reference for art students), a hand, a shoe and a small figurine.
Since our RangeVision Smart test, the manufacturer released several new versions of their software suite. Some significant changes were achieved following our feedback.
The major changes notably include the following upgrades:
- Texture scanning for all models, including out-of-production 3D scanners
- Auto white balance for texture scanning
- Light filters check
- Improved markers algorithm
- Realign function for incorrect aligning with markers
- Improved performance and model visualization for low-end PC
- Improved frame-rate test
- Alarm sound for cameras warming up
- Show/hide scan in ScanCenter
- Clipping planes depending on FOV
- Auto turntable rotation direction set
- Auto display setting correction in OS
- Manuals download
- Auto groups registration
- Auto local registration
- Visualising sphere diameter while deleting markers
- Aligning by points
- Improved alignment and trimming by plane
- Fixed and improved Configuration Wizard
- Export to OBJ type 2
- Camera resolution selection
- Test scanning
- Test texture snap
- Indication of clipping planes
- New texturing
- Improved scanning with markers
- Automatic turntable calibration
- Font scaling
- Sped-up data loading
- Dynamic adjustment of mouse sensitivity
- New local scan registration
- New united model building method
- Trimming unnecessary fragments with part selection
- Trimming of underlying surfaces
- Model scaling
- Automatic calculation of camera frequency
- Automatic software update
- Developer feedback
- Calibration process in the software was improved and speeded up.
- Now the user can specify the ambient temperature to improve the accuracy of the calibration.
- Option to repair the model in the MeshFix added.
- Undo/redo actions added in the ScanMerge.
- New .rv3d format for the ScanMerge added.
- Model export in .ptx format added.
- Program performance and overall user experience were improved.
RangeVision makes it very clear that all updates are available for all Smart users, who will benefit from lifetime upgrades.
Packaging rating: 5/5
Unboxing: a nice packaging, including a transport case
The RangeVision Smart is delivered in a thick cardboard which contains a rigid transport case. The case has a nice aluminum finish and is quite strong. It is not often that such a case is included with an affordable product such as the Smart. Everything inside the box is protected by a thick foam, with the 3D scanner being well surrounded by this soft material.
The Smart instruction manual was sent by RangeVision as a pdf. A paper manual is also included in the case.
The manual is written in english and highlights the main characteristics of the 3D scanner, how to conduct the setup and how to use it. It is easy to read and understand.
All the Smart accessories were included in the rigid transportation box. We had notably access to the RangeVision turntable (Automatic Turn Table – ATT), a $800 option. Next to it were the included tripod, AC adapter, HDMI and USB Cables, USB key for software installation, USB key for licence and calibration panels.
The Smart requires 3 USB slots to be operated, which can be difficult to manage when working on a laptop. If you plan to use the turntable, then 4 USB slots are required.
OVERVIEW AND SETUP
Overview and setup rating:
The RangeVision Smart can be operated under Windows environments only (and the compatibility includes Windows 10). The software can be installed from the USB key provided with the package. Software installation is quite long and includes setting up several software and drivers. We had some issues to obtain the right configuration for the cameras. It is important to note that we weren’t provided with the latest version of the software and we had to download all the suite from scratch. The 441Mb package requires an internet connection and it quite long to download (at least 20 minutes). Make sure you’re using the latest software version before starting your 3D scans!
Several drivers are required for the camera and the rotating table to be installed before starting 3D scanning. There are actually two separate software that come with the RangeVision Smart:
– ScanCenter is used for scanning the desired object and creating individual scans.
– ScanMerge is used for post processing and for creating 3D models.
The full software package is now a lot smaller, weighing only 237 Mb, almost a 50% reduction. The new installation file also includes all the necessary drivers (cameras, automatic turn table, etc.) which allows for a simpler and faster installation.
Hardware – 3.5/5
The RangeVision Smart is a very well manufactured product with a nice overall feel. It is not as good as standardized consumer electronic products, but the plastic casing of the scanner is shiny with a good finish. The product itself is based on a Asus DLP projector, two mini USB cameras and a tripod. The Asus projector offers an HD resolution and can serve other purposes beyond 3D scanning, such as watching a movie at home or presenting a ppt, like any DLP projector. The tripod is easy to use and the cables are well packed so they don’t get tangled together. The 3D scanner is surprisingly quite small and light, and therefore easy to move around.
Good to know: the RangeVision Smart 3D scanner can work for up to one hour without connecting to a power source. After this duration the projector brightness decreases progressively to avoid overheating. This degrades the scans results and requires the environment light to be reduced.
Getting started –
Hardware assembly is fast and straightforward. You only have to attach the tripod to the 3D scanner upper elements and plug in the 2 USB cables and the HDMI cable. Running the software is easy. The warmup (required for the cameras) is really long and takes up to 10 minutes. The first time it took us 12 minutes.
A YouTube demo video is included to help you calibrate the 3D scanner for the first time. It is in Russian dubbed in English. The English is very good and easy to understand, except that they had the bad idea to include a kind of lame rock music as a blank filler for when the person in the video is not talking. That is painful when you need to listen several times to the same part to precisely understand what to do.
But RangeVision offers also additional videos to explain further how to operate the Smart. These tutorials show for example how to scan and merge the meshes. Sadly, a lot of keyboard shortcuts and actions are not detailed and the user must go through a trial and error process.
The calibration process itself is quite well explained (but not obvious) and simply require to follow step by step instructions. In order to get a good 3D scan it took us a lot of time (even being used to manipulating 3D scanners). The result quality is really good but it is not a piece of cake.
Here are the necessary steps to produce a 3D scan:
- Calibrate the 3D scanner.
- Position the object in front of the scanner, on the rotating table if you have one.
- Launch the scan function in the RangeVision ScanCenter which will capture one side of the object.
- Repeat the scan until you obtain scans from all the sides of the object (automatically done if you have the turntable).
- Import the 3D scans inside the RangeVision MergeCenter with the integrated function of ScanCenter.
- Align and run the registration function to obtain a simple 3D file from the multiple 3D scans.
Note that the RangeVision Smart is capable of producing textured 3D scans (in color) at a good resolution. It is also compatible with a wide range of sizes, from 1 m to less than 5 cm, classified into 3 categories that require specific calibration settings.
The video tutorials have been upgraded, which means less confusion. This recap of all the ScanCenter functions is very useful. Also, now it is mandatory for all RangeVision retailers to conduct training for new users. This way they can get all the basics and more in their native language or, at least, in English.
The calibration process is made more intuitive thanks to functions being better annotated within software. Also all the buttons were grouped in a better, more logic way.
The calibration of the ATT can now be performed without a calibration plate, directly with the part to be 3D scanned.
The RangeVision software suite only has a restricted number of functions which are neither easy to discover nor easy to use. The lack of cancelling option is also quite disturbing. After several tries you will understand how to use it properly and what are the specific mouse and keyboard shortcuts. A tutorial would have been really be useful.
The ScanCenter software only serves the purpose to generate the 3D meshes, with or without textures. Once the 3D scans generated the user switches to MergeCenter.
In MergeCenter the first operation required is to clean the 3D files of the extra data and artifacts. The tool is not very intuitive and sometimes encounter display issues.
Aligning the meshes is easy for simple object, for more complex ones it gets a bit tricky because the visibility is not optimal and the manipulation tool is only based on mouse buttons. A manipulation trihedron, like in most CAD software, would be very useful. Smoothing and hole filling tool should also be more complete and easier to use.
However, after some practice time, it gets easier to understand how everything works and the realign feature gets more effective.
The undo feature has been successfully implemented, for a much better user experience. ScanCenter now boasts a dedicated set of tools for defining a parametric 3D scanning zone, depending on the specific use case.
Cleaning tools of MergeCenter were also improved, notably with the ability to automatically remove a specific zone of all 3D scans, such as the ATT surface.
3D scanning – 4/5
The Smart offers an enhanced 3D scanning experience when equipped with the turntable. The user is only required to press the Scan button in the ScanCenter and automatically generates several 3D scans from all the sides of the object (except the top and bottom which could be captured on a second step).
Without the turntable, the user is required to press the Scan button, then manually turn the object and repeat these steps until the object is scanned from all sides. 5 to 6 scans can be enough to provide a 360° model of the object.
The major constraint to 3D scanning with the Smart is to simultaneously use 4 different USB ports. One for each camera, one for the turntable and one for the Licence USB key. Only a few laptops are equipped with so many USB ports, and that would prevent you from to using an external USB mouse, which is more than helpful to do the merging operations.
The long warm-up time is also painful, we regularly experienced more than 12 minutes delay between installation of the scanner and being able to start 3D scanning. The turntable works really well and for 360 degrees scans it is a great option. 3D scans are quick to perform, 12 captures being sufficient for a full 360, each capture takes less than 5 seconds. Like with all 3D scanners the Smart does not like shiny objects or dark ones. The use of a mattifier spray can solve this issue.
The warm up process has been accelerated and is now less stringent, 5 minutes now being sufficient. RangeVision gave us some background on this important feature : warming up of cameras came from the professional 3D scanners and is needed for stable temperature of sensors in it. The physical size of pixels depends on temperature. For the best possible results (accuracy-wise) it is recommended to wait until warming up is completed however it can be skipped once cameras temperature reach 40°C.
3D SCANS RESULTS
3D scans results rating: 4/5
1. Wood hand model
This hand is used as a reference for drawing. It is only made of one material, wood. A mono texture object is always simple to 3D scan. This object has a lot of details and a huge variety of depth (holes between the fingers) which are hard to scan. This object is 120 x 70 x 40 mm. We performed 8 different scans by manually moving the object.
2. Human hand
We performed a scan of my own hand, with only 3 different captures. The result is good, even if it was difficult not to move the hand at all. Small offset stripes (due to the structured light technology) can be seen on the 3D model.
This leather sneaker is size 10. It is white and highly reflective, which makes it a very difficult object to scan. We performed 12 automatic 3D scans with the rotating table. The Field Of View of the scanner was a bit small compared to the scan of the shoe but the result is very good. Only the black sticker was not captured.
The figurine is a classic use case for evaluating 3D scanners. This one is quite complex with different colors and textures, and is has many details. We performed 12 automatic 3D scans with the rotating table.
The result of this 3D scan is very good, with a nice level of details. On this model, the realignment function of the ScanMerge software performed nicely and swiftly. A better mesh could have been obtained by combining scans from the top and bottom of the object.
6. Mikhail Skobelev bust
This small sized statue is the portrait of Mikhail Skobelev, a famous Russian general. It is plaster made and, interestingly enough, the part was broken and then glued back together.
On the high resolution mesh (on the left), it is possible to see the small groove on the left lower part of the statue’s support.
Value rating: 4.5/5
The RangeVision Smart is a good desktop 3D scanner with an excellent price-to-performance ratio. It is one of the most affordable 3D scanners capable to delivering good and detailed results.
Aniwaa’s opinion rating:
Our overall rating reflects our experience with the RangeVision Smart 3D scanner, in the specific uses cases we describe.
|Overview and setup||2|
|3D scan results||2||4/5|
3D scanners are generally not very user-friendly products, and the RangeVision makes no exception. The hardware reflects its quality of fabrication and its potential as an affordable desktop 3D scanner. Its software could be more intuitive, and several functions like a manipulation trihedron would be useful. A step-by-step tutorial would also be really useful even if the PDF and videos that RangeVision provides are good starting material.
- Price to performance ratio
- Manufacturing quality and accessories
- Flexible and very capable for several different use cases
- Software is difficult to use and offers limited options
- Tedious setup and getting to use the 3D scanner
The RangeVision Smart is an interesting 3D scanner for design studios, universities and research labs. Mechanical and reverse engineering application can also be fitting uses cases. We would not recommend this product to hobbyists unwilling to dive into complex processes, but if you have some 3D scanning experience and you’re looking for an efficient and affordable 3D scanner, the Smart is definitely an option to consider.
And at this price point there are not many alternatives. The Fuel3D SCANIFY is cheaper but has very low flexibility (it is mostly great for face 3D scanning). The DAVID SLS line is powerful and a little more expensive, but won’t offer a much better performance, and their user experience is also quite complex.
After dramatic software improvements (ease of use, setup and automatic features) the RangeVision Smart anchors itself in the entry-level professional 3D scanners. One interesting alternative in the same price range is the Open Technologies Scan In A Box, which offers less accessories but a similar level of performance.
We carry out tests of 3D printers, 3D scanners and 3D filaments in our lab. Get in touch if you’d like us to review your products!