A 2018 Review of the Ciclop Laser Desktop 3D Scanner
The world of 3D creations is getting more and more exciting with advanced versions of existing gadgets and new products foraying into the market every now and then. One such addition is the first ever DIY 3D scanner kit – the Ciclop 3D scanner. This amazing 3D scanner with ready-to-use functionalities is a delight for anyone who likes to tinker with designs and play around with 3D projects and creations. In doing so, it carves a unique space in the field of 3D printing instead of plugging existing gaps.
The device allows you to analyze objects from a real-world setting, collecting data on its dimensions, shape, size, and appearance to construct 3D models digitally. So, it is not, as if, 3D printing wouldn’t be possible without a 3D scanner, but having one diversifies your printing options.
The Ciclop Laser 3D scanner is a DIY kit designed as an affordable open-source device, which means both the software and hardware of this scanner are open to modifications and improvisations. Aiding this is the inclusion of the hardware and the Horus operating software of this scanner under a Creative Common Attribution and Share Alike (CC-BY-SA) license as well as a General Public License (GPL). Another key highlight of this 3D scanner is its unbelievably competitive price point of $133.53.
The Ciclop 3D scanner makes use of the laser triangulation technology for scanning objects placed on its automatic rotating table in three-dimension.
Unboxing and setting up the Ciclop Laser 3D Scanner
The Ciclop Laser 3D Scanner arrives in a neat package, with all the parts of the DIY kit neatly arranged and secured inside a box. As mentioned before, it is a DIY kit, but one that is fairly simple to assemble and has everything you need to begin printing with as soon as you are done building it. Anyone with some past experience working with DIY kits can assemble the Ciclop 3D scanner is under an hour.
The kit arrives with clear, easy-to-follow instructions. If for some reason, you need to access the instructions in digital format, you can easily find them in the Support section of manufacturer BQ’s site. Similarly, the Horus operating software that runs this 3D scanner is available for free. The software comes in handy when calibrating the scanner and getting scans in point cloud format.
The Ciclop 3D scanner is a 3D printed device itself, with its frame made from PLA material 3D printer with BQ’s in-house offerings such as Hephestos and/or Witbox. There is also a more cost-effective variant of this 3D scan that comes with electronic parts only. Since it is an open-source machine, there are no set standards or configurations as far as the build is concerned. A large segment of users, especially those experienced in the field of 3D printing, prefer using the scanner’s components or its design to create their own hardware to act as the device’s frame.
The Ciclop 3D scanner works on the laser triangulation principle. The scanner has a camera in the center, with two laser nodes on either side. The camera and the lasers work in tandem, with a single point of focus that creates an imaginary triangle. The angles formed by this imaginary triangle are a measure of the distance between the camera and the two lasers. The software makes this calculation on basis of the distance between the red dot that reflects the field of depth and the camera.
With the help of this information, the software then recreates the shape of any object placed on the central plate of the 3D scanner by comparing the distances at different points on the object, which is continuously rotated by the scanner base. As opposed to a single point, the software analyses the beam of laser light in vertical lines, scanning several points simultaneously, thus making the whole process a lot faster.
The Scanning Process
The first very crucial step for setting up this 3D scanner is calibrating it correctly so that the end scans are accurate. To do this, you begin by putting a chess pattern board on the rotating platform to eliminate any errors and then setting your scanning preferences. The Horus software manual contains step-by-step instructions for the calibrations process. The next important step is to configure the contrast and brightness for optimal scan accuracy. There are several brightness and contrast settings you can toy with before proceeding with a scan.
It is essential to bear in mind that the optimum configuration settings vary from one scan to the next, one object to the next. Once you have set the 3D scanner up with the right kind of calibration and configuration, you can begin scanning objects with it. For this, you have simply got to place the object on the rotating platform and wait for the scan to finish. This generally takes up to 6-7 minutes, but the duration may vary depending on the size and complexity of the object being scanned.
The scan of the object will be made available to you in a point cloud (.pyl) file. The only thing left for you to do now is to convert it into an STL file using free software such as Meshlab before you can 3D print it.
A 3D scanner is a lot different from your typical 3D printer in functioning and operational principles, so the results of Ciclop 3D Scanner can be impacted by external factors such as ambient light, color, and shine of the object being scanned. For best results, operating the Ciclop 3D Scanner under medium intensity of light coming from an indirect source is recommended. At the same time, any shadows falling on the scanner’s rotating platform can affect the accuracy of detail on the scan.
An object with an extremely shiny surface can also be difficult to scan with this 3D scanner, as the laser beams may get reflected off the object. Working with red colored objects can also be difficult with this laser scanner, as the red beam from the laser can clash with the color of the object. The scanner also has its limitations in scanning very light objects, and you may need to move the scanning device to a darker area and tweaking the brightness settings.
The verdict on the Ciclop Desktop 3D Scanner
The Ciclop 3D scanner is definitely a robust scanner and one of the most competitively priced DIY kits on the market today. The open source abilities of this scanner are a great advantage here, as there are endless possibilities when it comes to enhancing the hardware and software on this device. However, this scanner has its own set of limitations in terms of the ambient settings and range of objects it can work with. It is also a device that has its own learning curve and requires quite a bit of tweaking and tinkering around with every new scan to deliver optimal results. Therefore, it is a device recommend for tech-savvy enthusiasts who love to play around with machines. If you are looking for a plug and play kind of a scanning device, the Ciclop 3D Scanner will require a little more effort from you for best performance.