What is the best 3D scanner?

3D scanners are less popular than 3D printers, but they are an important part of the 3D printing ecosystem. Many different types of 3D scanners exist, from desktop 3D scanners to handheld 3D scanners and advanced metrology systems.

3D scanners can be used for an extremely wide range of applications, from reverse engineering to 3D body scanning or even online retail. They are becoming much easier to use and are available at much lower prices than ever before.

However, given the low number of reliable 3D scanner reviews, it can be challenging to find the best 3D scanner.

With this selection of the best 3D scanners, our goal is to cut through the clutter and offer a short overview of what’s available on the market this year.

We also run through different 3D scanning applications (reverse engineering, 3D inspection, architecture, etc.) and provide concise explanations of the various 3D scanning technologies that exist.

Top 10 3D scanners in 2021

BrandProductCountryPrice
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
Shining 3D EinScan Pro 2X PlusChina$ 6,899Ask for a quote
Artec 3D EvaLuxembourg$ 19,800Ask for a quote
Creaform Go!SCAN SPARKCanada$ 38,000Ask for a quote
Matter and Form 3D Scanner V2United States$ 750Buy on Amazon France
NextEngine 3D Scanner ULTRA HDUnited States$ 2,995Ask for a quote
Shining 3D EinScan-SP (Platinum)China$ 2,299Buy on Amazon US
HP PRO S3United States$ 3,899Ask for a quote
Open Technologies Scan In a Box FXItaly$ 5,500Ask for a quote
Polyga HDI Compact C504Canada$ 19,990Ask for a quote
Evatronix eviXmaticPoland upon requestAsk for a quote

Overview of the best 3D scanners

We have divided the 3D scanners into two categories: handheld 3D scanners and desktop 3D scanners.

Best portable and handheld 3D scanners

Selection Tested

Eva

CountryLuxembourg
CategoryHandheld
TechnologyStructured light
Price
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
$ 19,800

The Artec Eva has been a classic on the 3D scanner market for years now. It is Artec’s entry-level portable 3D scanner, which doesn’t stop it from being an excellent 3D scanning solution. The Artec Eva is one of the most lightweight 3D scanners on the market, too.

In addition to being able to 3D scan different-sized objects (small, medium, and large), the Eva 3D scanner is able to capture colors and textures. It comes with user-friendly Artec Studio software and is even able to perform 3D body scans.

http://Creaform%20Go!SCAN%20SPARK
Selection Tested
By Creaform Certified partner Logo Creaform
CountryCanada
CategoryHandheld
TechnologyStructured light
Price
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
$ 38,000

The Go!SCAN SPARK is one of the latest additions to Creaform’s highly regarded Go!SCAN product lineup. Creaform, which is based in Canada, is one the industry leaders when it comes to professional 3D scanners.

This 3D scanner is one of the easiest scanners to use (it is a plug-n-play 3D scanner) and it features an interesting hybrid tracking scanning technology. You just need to point and shoot at the object to scan, and the software will instantly display your mesh in real time.

http://Shining%203D%20EinScan%20Pro%202X%20Plus
Selection Tested
By Shining 3D Certified partner Logo Shining 3D
CountryChina
CategoryHandheld
TechnologyStructured light
Price
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
$ 6,899

Over the past few years, Shining 3D has shown significant progress in the 3D scanning field. They provide affordable 3D scanning solutions that are able to deliver great results.

The EinScan Pro 2X Plus is a follow-up to their flagship EinScan series, and it comes with a special edition of Solid Edge software. When equipped with the dedicated Color module, the 2X Plus can capture colors and textures (useful for full-color 3D prints). Different scanning modes enable you to capture small, medium, and large objects.

Best desktop 3D scanners

Selection
CountryUnited States
CategoryDesktop
TechnologyLaser triangulation
Price
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
$ 750

Matter and Form has been producing affordable desktop 3D scanners since 2014. The 3D Scanner V2 (a.k.a. MFS1V2) is, as its naming suggests, the second version of their flagship product, the Matter and Form MFS1V1 3D scanner.

It boasts a great price-to-performance ratio and is able to quickly scan 3D objects while displaying results in real time. Matter and Form also manufactures the Bevel dongle for use with 3D scanning smartphone apps.

Selection Tested
By Shining 3D Certified partner Logo Shining 3D
CountryChina
CategoryDesktop
TechnologyStructured light
Price
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
$ 2,299

This Shining 3D desktop 3D scanner is available in two versions, SP (Platinum) and SE (Elite). The Elite version is more affordable at $1,199, but offers less precision and a lower 3D scanning volume.

The EinScan-SP comes with an automatic turntable, allowing users to scan small objects accurately and quickly. It takes under a minute to perform a full 360° scan.

Selection
CountryUnited States
CategoryDesktop
TechnologyLaser triangulation
Price
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
$ 2,995

This desktop 3D scanner by US manufacturer NextEngine is another classic. The NextEngine ULTRA HD scanner comes with an automatic turntable, but it’s possible to use the scanner without the table in order to capture larger objects.

NextEngine’s ULTRA HD 3D scanner is also able to capture colors. However, it isn’t the fastest scanner on the market, taking up to 10 minutes to complete one 3D scan.

Selection Tested
CountryItaly
CategoryDesktop
TechnologyStructured light
Price
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
$ 5,500

The Scan In A Box FX, a.k.a. SIAB FX, is a desktop 3D scanner that requires only about five minutes to set up. The scanner itself sits on a tripod, and you can order an automatic turntable separately if needed.

Open Technologies provides IDEA software alongside the SIAB FX, with powerful mesh editing features. This 3D scanner provides some good 3D scanning results.

http://Polyga%20HDI%20Compact%20C504
Selection
By Polyga
CountryCanada
CategoryDesktop
TechnologyStructured light
Price
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
$ 19,990

The HDI Compact C504 is one of the best 3D scanners in its class when it comes to small objects. The Polyga HDI C504 is able to capture objects as small as 1 cm with a high level of accuracy and precision (6-micron details). Thus, the Polyga C504 is probably the best 3D scanner for miniatures.

Polyga’s HDI Compact product lineup also includes 3D scanners for medium and large objects. They are all plug-n-play and come with FlexScan software.

Selection
By HP
CountryUnited States
CategoryDesktop
TechnologyStructured light
Price
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
$ 3,899

Before HP acquired David Vision Systems, this workhorse of a 3D scanner was known as the DAVID SLS-3. Today it is branded as the HP PRO S3 and continues to deliver high-quality 3D scanning results with accuracy of up to 5 microns.

For added precision, a dual camera upgrade is available as well as an automatic turntable. HP’s 3D scanning software allows you to align and merge meshes into watertight 3D models.

Selection
CountryPoland
CategoryDesktop
TechnologyStructured light
Price
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
upon request

The eviXmatic is one of the most recently launched 3D scanners on this list. It is an automated 3D scanning system mainly geared towards 3D inspection. It integrates a powerful software, Geomagic Control X, which allows you to compare 3D scans with a reference CAD model to detect potential part flaws.

The 3D scanning part of this system is detachable for different use cases, and it’s also possible to replace it with other Evatronix 3D scanners.

Best 3D scanner special mention: Scan Dimension SOL

http://Scan%20Dimension%20SOL

SOL

CountryDenmark
CategoryDesktop
TechnologyLaser triangulation
Price
Approximate starting prices based on supplier-provided information and public data. Prices may vary over time and do not include additional products or services (taxes, shipping, accessories, training, installation, …).
$ 599

This affordable desktop 3D scanner is geared towards hobbyists and tech enthusiasts. The SOL 3D scanner is equipped with an automatic turntable to complement its hybrid 3D scanning technology (a combination of structured light and laser triangulation).

Scan Dimension notes that this 3D scanner is easy to use, thanks to a simplified app that lets users avoid complex calibration and software manipulation.

Best 3D scanner special mention

Special mention

Kinect sensor

By Microsoft

Both professionals and hobbyists have already been using Kinect sensors to 3D scan objects. Microsoft is now releasing a new and improved version of their Kinect sensor, called the Azure Kinect DK (developer kit, for developers and businesses).

It is equipped with various AI sensors, and various SDKs will be made available (e.g. body tracking SDK), including an open source SDK.

3D scanner buying guide

There are various elements to take into account before deciding which product is the best 3D scanner for you.

Which 3D scanner is the best for me?

3D scanning can be used in a large variety of fields. For every application, the features necessary to generate a great 3D model are different. The 3D scanner must be chosen according to your desired use and results.

What the best 3D scanner for you will depend on many factors, detailed below.

3D scanning field of application

The first thing to take into consideration is the field in which the 3D scanner will be used. It could be for example:

Professional use

  • 3D scanning small objects: dentists, jewelers, and other professionals can use 3D scanning to capture small pieces.
  • 3D scanning big objects: professionals such as architects and archeologists might need to 3D scan large objects such as statues, archeological fields, or buildings.
  • 3D body scanning is getting increasingly used in various professional fields such as healthcare and 3D figurines.

Personal use

  • 3D scanning objects occasionally: a person might need to use 3D scanning on rare occasions or maybe just one time.
  • 3D scanning objects on a regular basis: you can use 3D scanning for various things from making personalized objects to making a replica of yourself, friends, or family members.

Type of 3D scanned object

Dimensions and distance of the object (scan area and scanning range)

The recommended 3D scanner will change depending on the dimensions and the distance of the object to be 3D scanned. A desktop 3D scanner can’t 3D scan a 2-meter-tall statue, and a handheld 3D scanner might not be the best option to 3D scan a very small and precise piece.

Surface of the object

Not every 3D scanner is able to capture the attributes of an object’s surface, such as color and texture. It can also be challenging to capture objects with black, shiny, or reflective surfaces.

Desired resolution

Not all 3D scanners offer the same level of resolution. Therefore, depending on the quality you need, some 3D scanner models are more adapted than others. High resolution is required for reverse engineering, for example.

For further insights into how to choose a 3D scanner, check out Polyga’s guest post on Aniwaa: 3D scanner buying guide: what’s in a datasheet?

3D scanner recommendations

Desktop 3D scanners

Desktop 3D scanners can be ideal for both professionals and hobbyists that need to scan small parts. They tend to be more accurate since you aren’t holding and moving the 3D scanner around yourself.

Also, many desktop 3D scanners come with (or at least optionally) an automatic turntable, which makes it much easier to get clean 3D scans.

Handheld 3D scanners

Handheld 3D scanners, sometimes called portable 3D scanners, can be used to 3D scan small to very large objects. These 3D scanners can also be used to reach hard-to-reach places. The precision and the ability to capture color and texture will depend on the 3D scanner model.

Desktop 3D scanner or handheld 3D scanner?

3D body scanners

3D body scanners can be used in very various fields.

  • Professionals: professionals might want to 3D scan a person to make a 3D figurine, prepare for a surgical intervention, follow-up on a pregnancy or skin conditions, etc.
  • Individuals: 3D body scanners can be used to help with fitness goals and personal shape. These 3D scanners usually can’t capture color and texture but offer a high resolution.

3D scanning mobile apps

3D scanning mobile apps are designed for occasional users that are not willing to or are unable to invest in a 3D scanner. They are not as precise as most 3D scanners, but mobile apps are a great way to get initiated to 3D scanning. Check out our list of the best 3D scanning apps for more information.

3D scanner price

Here are a few insights on 3D scanner pricing.

Desktop 3D scanner price

Desktop 3D scanner prices vary a lot from one model to another. It can go from a few hundred dollars, such as the bq Ciclop at $240, and can top out at around $50,000 for the more advanced 3D scanners.

Handheld 3D scanner price

The handheld 3D scanner price range is very wide. A handheld 3D scanner can cost less than $200 (XYZprinting’s 3D scanner, for example), and can reach up to over $100,000 for very high-end and advanced 3D scanners.

There are plenty of great entry-level options for a couple of thousand dollars. Mid-range handheld 3D scanners tend to cost between $10,000 and $40,000.

Industrial 3D scanner price

Industrial 3D scanners generally offer more cutting-edge features and higher precision. Hence, their prices can be pretty high, ranging from $1,000 for the simplest ones to more than $100,000 for the most evolved ones.

3D scanning applications

There are many reasons to buy a 3D scanner, for various industries and applications.

Jewelry

Jewelers are starting to use 3D printing and 3D scanning to build casts in order to create amazing jewels. Read more on our 3D printing and 3D scanning for jewelry page.

Dental

Dentists and dental labs are using 3D printing to build and create various dental appliances. Find more information on our 3D printing and 3D scanning for the dental industry.

Medical

3D scanners are very versatile and can be used in many different ways in healthcare, from studies to making prosthetics or studying a person’s posture. Find more information on our 3D scanning and 3D printing for the medical industry page.

Dental scan
A dental 3D scan by our co-founder Pierre-Antoine.

3D figurines and 3D selfies

3D portraits or mini-me are increasingly popular! To make one, you get 3D scanned, and you can print your mini lookalike. To learn more about the subject, you can visit our 3D printed figurines, 3D selfies, and 3D portraits page.

Note: interested in opening a 3D selfie business? Contact us to receive more information and a free quote.

realistic 3D figurines from a 3D scan
3D scanners can be used to make 3D figurines. Source: 3Dprinting.com

Architecture

Architects can use 3D scanning to capture an area, building, or habitation and present it in a more efficient way to their clients. If you are interested, you’ll find more information on our 3D scanning and 3D printing for architects page.

Archeology and museums

Archaeologists, museum curators, and researchers are starting to use 3D scanning to get a better view and capture ancient pieces. To read more about this topic, you can visit our 3D printing and 3D scanning in archeology and cultural preservation page.

3D scan of Notre Dame 3d scanning for architecture
A dot cloud of Notre Dame. Source: engadget

Reverse engineering

Reverse engineering, also known as back engineering, is the process of extracting information from anything man-made and studying it. 3D scanners can be used to capture all the parts of a disassembled object to create a 3D model. The user will then be able to digitally study it in 3D afterward.

Metrology/inspection

Industries need to make sure their factories are producing perfect products that are perfectly in line with the products’ reference dimensions. 3D scanners can be used to efficiently measure potential discrepancies.

A high-quality 3D scan by Creaform.
A high-quality 3D scan of an industrial part by Creaform. Source: Creaform/Ametek

Overview of 3D scanning technologies

If you’re unsure of how 3D scanning works, take a look below at our technology definitions.

Photogrammetry

Photogrammetry consists of taking measurements from photographs to recover the exact positions of surface points.

The principle of photogrammetry is to analyze several photographs of a static subject, taken from different viewpoints, and to automatically detect pixels corresponding to the same physical point.

Structured light

3D scanners using structured light project a series of linear light patterns onto an object.

The system is then able to examine the deformations of each line and to calculate the distance between the 3D scanner and the object’s surface. With this data, the software is able to build an accurate 3D model of the object.

Structured Light infographique. One of the most used 3D scanning technologies.
Structured light 3D scanning technology. Source: Depth Biomecanics

Triangulation

A 3D scanner using triangulation technology will project a laser beam on the object’s surface and measure the deformation of the laser ray (similar to structured light, but with one or more lasers).

3D scanning laser triangulation is a very used 3D scanning technology.
3D scanning laser triangulation technology. Source: NeoMetrix

Contact

Contact 3D scanners probe the subject via physical touch. While the object is firmly held in place, a touch probe moves along its surface to record 3D information.

For more precise and detailed explanations, you can visit our 3D scanning technologies page.

FAQ

What is the best scanner under $1000?

The best 3D scanner under $1000 is the Matter and Form 3D scanner V2.

Which are the most affordable 3D scanners?

The most affordable 3D scanners, excluding DIY kits, can be found from Shining 3D or Peel 3D (Creaform subsidiary).

What are the fastest commercially available scanners?

One of the fastest 3D scanners available right now is the Creaform Go!SCAN SPARK.