When MakerBot released its Digitizer 3D scanner in August, it signaled 3D scanning was on its way to becoming a mainstream fixture for 3D printer users. Now, 3D Systems, which manufactures a line of professional printers and the Cube personal printer, has followed up with its own 3D scanner: the Sense, which is handheld and costs just $399.
That’s $1,000 less than the Digitizer, and in line with what I (wrongly) predicted the Digitizer would cost to appeal to the maximum number of 3D printer owners. The Sense is also handheld, whereas the Digitizer is a tabletop device. It’s a matter of preference which design is better, but handheld scanners are not limited to scanning objects that can fit on a scanning bed — they can scan a whole room.
Scanners are an important tool for making 3D printing accessible to more people because they take a physical object and turn it digital, at which point it can be modified or printed. Until this year, scanners generally cost thousands of dollars. A new wave of options has dropped the price to less than $1,000, with some scanners running for as little as $100.
It’s exciting to see a lower-cost option come from one of the big 3D printing players. The sub-$1,000 scanners have mostly come from crowdfunding sites, with unproven companies behind them. The Sense is available online now and will arrive in Staples stores November 18.