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3D Scanner - how useful is it?

I’ve been reverse engineering a lot of parts lately and I wanted to see if a 3D scanner would speed up my workflow.

Which 3D Scanner?

I purchased a Shining 3D EinScan-SE Scanner. It’s an entry level scanner, and all the reviews said as such. In particular, one review was very detailed and informative, you should check it out.

I purchased my scanner from Amazon, and it arrived promptly.


In my workflow, I use several different programs to get a scanned object to something I can use and modify. The important thing to know is that a 3D Scanner creates a mesh or an STL file. There are technical descriptions of both, but at the end of the day, the 3D scanner outputs something that your 3D printer can print and use. If you want to modify the scanned object, for example, by adding or removing a feature, you need to convert it to something like a STEP file or use the scanned file as a reference.

Einscan Scanner software

The bundled software is very quirky and buggy. But, it is useable and once you get the hang of it, it gets the job done. You can scan something many times from many angles, or even use the turntable to automate this. By far my biggest gripe is that you can’t easily delete a scan that you don’t want. In some cases, a scan was not aligned correctly, and if you don’t catch it right away, you can’t fix it. I think you can delete the bad scan file, but it’s not obvious. Anyway, it works, just have to take your time…

Mesh Mixer

The scanned objects that the Einscan software outputs is very detailed. Small objects that are 50mm cubed can be upwards of 50mb, which is huge for a cad program to handle. What I did then was output this to meshmixer and reduce the number of points/surfaces. You have to balance the number of surfaces with the geometry of the shape, otherwise you might end up smoothing out surfaces that you need. Usually, if i could get the output down to 10mb or less, things went ok.


I then imported the mesh mixer file in freecad and exported the file as a STEP file. This allowed my CAD Program (OnShape) to be able to work with the surfaces of the scan.

How’d it go?

I feel mixed about the 3D scanner. A lot of reviews out there talk about the simplest usecase, which is scanning an object and printing it without modification. This workflow works OK on the Einscan. However, if you want to modify a part, you’re better off using the scan as a reference and recreating the whole thing. Check out this video from OnShape to see how they approach scanned files.

OnShape uses the example of recreating a part from a reference mesh, but the idea is to not copy the exact part. Instead, you should use it to reference the overall shape and update it for your own manufacturing capabilities. Makes sense, but I think a lot of people are hoping for a really easy way to scan and update parts.