Even though 3D scanning is something new to the consumer market, there are already thousands of available models one can download, thanks to the data collected from the numerous scanners on the market today. Over the next few years, we will see 3D scanners in the hands of hundreds of millions, or even billions of individuals, meaning that there will literally be billions upon billions of free 3D models one will be able to download online, and then 3D print replicas of, from objects around the globe. You may be thinking that this is quite the optimistic prediction on my part, but you must realize that already, anyone with an iPhone has a 3D scanner to some extent, via an application called TRNIO.
TRNIO is a totally free iOS application, created by a man named Jan-Michael Tressler. It basically puts the power of a 3D scanner into the hands of anyone with an iPad or iPhone. This means that if you are out and about, and see an interesting object, or want to preserve a moment in time, you can capture it in 3D, upload it to your 3D printer, and basically make a plastic copy of it, or better yet, send it off to Shapeways or Sculpteo and have it printed in a much more interesting, higher quality material.
The TRNIO application is simple to use. All you do is open the app, and hit the red onscreen button. The app will then begin taking a series of pictures as you move your phone around an object. Once complete, you simply hit the same button, and select ‘upload now’. A 3D model will then be generated on your phone/tablet, which can be viewed in the traditional zoom in/zoom out mode, like you are used to when dealing with photos. Or you can rotate the object 360°. Don’t have a 3D printer? Don’t worry! You can still have TRNIO print your object for you, via one of their partners, for a fee.
An Example of a TRNI 3D Scan:
In addition to Google recently teaming with LG, to bring their Project Tango 3D image capturing technology to a tablet sometime in the next year, and other applications like that of Rendor which should be launched sometime this year, 3D scanning will soon be in the hands of nearly anyone with a mobile device. It will certainly be interesting to see how all these 3D models of real world environments play into the whole 3D printing ecosystem.
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