Montana-based startup CowTech launched an affordable 3D scanner kit on Kickstarter and they easily breezed past their funding goal in the first 24 hours. The CowTech Ciclop is a $99 3D laser scanner kit that was designed specifically with owners of 3D printers in mind. The buyer can print most of the scanner parts out on their own 3D printer and the parts were designed to fit on virtually any desktop 3D printer with a print bed volume of 115 x 110 x 65 mm (4.5 x 4.3 x 2.6 in) or higher. Once all of the components have been printed, the assembly process is quick and simple, and the Ciclop can start scanning in less than 30 minutes.
A laser 3D scanner is a type of 3D scanner that flashes a pair of fine lasers in unison with a digital camera while a turntable slowly rotates the object being scanned. The camera detects the laser placement on the object after each flash and slowly traces it as it moves around in a circle. The laser flashes are converted into hundreds of thousands of points that are turned into a highly detailed point cloud. Once the point cloud has enough detail it could be converted into a mesh that will completely duplicate the object being scanned. This mesh can then easily be converted into a 3D printable file and sent directly to a 3D printer for duplication.
CowTech’s Ciclop is an open source 3D laser scanner that is based on the RepRap BQ Ciclop that was developed by Spanish 3D printing company BQ. The original version of the Ciclop was already a decent budget 3D scanner, however the guys at CowTech have spent months redesigning and beefing up the design. They redesigned the 3D printable parts from scratch, and the CowTech version reduces the time it takes to print the parts by 50%, and reduces the amount of filament needed by 33%. The CowTech Ciclop has a respectable 200 x 205 mm scan volume on a laser cut platform that can rotate 360 degrees. The typical scan capture time ranges from two to eight minutes, and the Ciclop is capable of scanning at a resolution of 0.5mm.
The changes and enhancements made by CowTech ended up bringing it right in line with most retail scanners, but for only a fraction of the price. The cost reductions are the result of a lot of experimentation and testing. Some of the notable changes to the basic design include sleek, laser cut acrylic parts that are cheaper to make in large batches, and select imported components that can be purchased in bulk. They also replaced the original threaded rod with a streamlined acrylic version that when combined with the internal LED lights make the CowTech Ciclop much more aesthetically pleasing.
Take a look at the CowTech Ciclop Kickstarter video:
The standard CowTech Ciclop 3D scanner kit is available for $99 and it includes a NEMA 17 stepper motor, two Class 1 red line lasers, a Logitech C270 webcam, a custom designed Arduino Shield, Uno R3 development board, A4988 stepper motor driver, a 6008Z steel bearing for the turntable, LED strip and a calibration square. It also includes the laser cut acrylic components, a 1.5A power supply and a USB cord. There is also an $119 option that includes custom laser engraved logos or text on the 3D scanner parts. And if you don’t have a 3D printer you can buy a complete kit, including the 3D printed components, for $149.
The Kickstarter campaign is currently completely funded — at more than three times the original $10,000 crowdfunding goal — and will continue to fund until March 22nd. The CowTech team is expecting to start delivering kits as soon as April 2016 for the early bird kits and May for everyone else. Since the campaign funded so completely, the company is considering stretch goals but has not made any announcements at this time. You can pick up your own $99 3D laser scan from CowTech here. Discuss this new technology in the CowTech 3D Scanner forum over at 3DPB.com.