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3D Scanning with DAVID


scan_coffee2.jpgThe German Institute for Robotics and Process Control has developed software that allows you to scan 3D objects using a very low-budget setup.

From their website:

DAVID is a freeware software for laser range scanning. All you need is a PC, a camera (e.g. a webcam), a background corner, and a laser which projects a line onto the object you want to scan. So everyone can use it to scan objects without high costs; this is the big advantage over commercial solutions which are rather expensive.

Macouno was the first to give this a spin and he created his own setup. He improvised his way through, so the results weren't exactly great yet. I'm sure they'll improve with a better setup though.

DAVID has a few drawbacks such as not being able to stitch multiple scans together, but I think it's a great tool to experiment with. (And with some clever Python scripting, I'm sure we can stitch the scans together ourselves, can't we?).

Go ahead and download DAVID - I'd like to hear about your results!

About the Author

Avatar image for Bart Veldhuizen
Bart Veldhuizen

I have a LONG history with Blender - I wrote some of the earliest Blender tutorials, worked for Not a Number and helped run the crowdfunding campaign that open sourced Blender (the first one on the internet!). I founded BlenderNation in 2006 and have been editing it every single day since then ;-) I also run the Blender Artists forum and I'm Head of Community at Sketchfab.


  1. It says on the original site

    "To obtain a complete 360° model of your object, we have created an algorithm that automatically "puzzles" together the scans made from different sides. However, this part of the software is not yet available for download."

    So it looks like it can be done. they just haven't released that code yet. I really hope they do :)

  2. I was all excited untill I saw the result.
    it's still cool for such budget, fun to play with, but not quite practical.
    well, it might be a good idea to have its result as a 3d reference object.
    nice development btw!

  3. I have a green laser (incredibly bright one, too), I wonder if that will be easier for the software (it allows you to choose between the two, green and red, so i'd assume...something is different)

    I'm going to give this a try when I get home from work.

    The 360 thing isn't a big deal. It shouldn't be too hard to scan something four times, then do a little vertex welding them together.

  4. Hello folks,

    I'm getting ready a videotutorial about using DAVID and other freeware apps to stitch the scans together and get them working in Blender. It'll be ready quite soon and believe me, if you plan your work carefully, you can get GREAT results :)


  5. So does this method generate models in Projective or Euclidean geometry? Very interesting stuff. I'm wondering if it can be modified for use in metrology. Definitely look forward to going through Matlab script (Thanks Hohrer!) to see if i can translate to Python for those of us who don't run windows :)

  6. 3D scanning is going to be more and more useful now that Blender will have the "reconstruct" feature. If you're not familiar with reconstruct, go hunt it down in the new feature wiki ... or wait a week or two for the BF release

  7. I think this would be something great to use for refrence, like a refrence model.

    If I was to try to use this is would be to scan a face!

  8. Very interesting works. Well done, Macouno and Höhrer !

    @ Calvin. I understand you ! Modelling a face looking like the real human model is one of the most difficult tasks in modelling, and a 3D scanner would be very useful in such case !

  9. Well, very interesting, Almost a year and a half. I made my M.S. Thesis about 3D Scanning, I propouse an algorithm to decode points on an image. I've working on the new version of the software that you can find in Libelula's WebSite.

    I'm studying this software and the method that was used.

    Saludos desde el otro lado de la red...

  10. Small update from the DAVID website forum.

    The people behind the program are seriously considering going commercial with the next version (which will include stitching of multiple scans. They are thinking in the two digit area, meaning under $100.-

    Of course like most blender users I like free stuff, but to me it seems a very fair estimate, and I hope they come out with the next version soon. Oh I'll be updating my site with some new results later today, but I'll post in the blenderartists forums when that happens.

  11. too bad they are going "commercial"... that means that source code will be concealed and that surely no linux version will come.

    I think it's a shame from people working in a university. what they do should be concidered as free knowledge as the community already paid the guys for their work. they will sell just a few copies, then another guy with more social counciousness will make a free one that will spread.....

    all those unipeople making monney on the back of the state make me mad, 'cos as their is no equivalent status for artists (you know: paid research, labs, etc... ) and they want that artists (which already have problems to make a living) pay for their already paid code ......

    the idea is not new, I also thought about that years ago, but as my coding skills are too low to spend time on that kind of geometrical stuff, I will just wait that somebody realease something usable ... and opensource.

  12. Durden: I use a "line laser module". You can buys those rather cheap, mine's only $25.-, there's a link to the shop where I bought mine in the links/3dstuff section on my site.

    You can use pieces of glass and such to get a line from a point laser, I've tried buying a proper lense for it a while back as well, but my advice is simply... buy one that does it all for you. Doing it yourself is a bit much.

  13. Shoot, i also see its no longer 'free'.

    This shouldn't be that hard to replicate and give out to the unwashed masses as OSS? Its such a great idea it shouldn't be lost by closing it.

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