Mobile 3D scanning technology debuts in Engineering Library

University Libraries Innovation Microgrant winners help close loop in design process

Update: The mobile 3D scanning technology pilot program was completed in 2018. The investigators thank those who have expressed interest in this service and helped test the scanner. Unfortunately, the technology did not meet an acceptable standard, so the scanner has been decommissioned. However, the pilot confirmed that there is a need for this type of service and other options will be investigated. 

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — New mobile 3D scanning technology now available through the Engineering Library on Penn State’s University Park campus will not only spark creativity and innovation, but it will help close the loop in the design and prototype process. Using the wireless, handheld 3D scanning system purchased with a University Libraries Innovation Microgrant, current Penn State students, faculty, staff and University Libraries resident borrower card holders will be able to capture 3D scans of objects nearly anywhere.

Half-hour demonstrations of the 3D scanning system will be held at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 21 and 22, in the Engineering Library, located in 325 Hammond Building.

This new technology allows individuals to create 3D models in a digital format with an easy-to-use system and, following the process, convert and refine their files, and then print their item. The Fuel 3D scanning system, available to borrow from the Engineering Library for four hours at a time, consists of a SCANIFY handheld scanning device, similar to a video game controller, connected tablet, and scanner tracking targets. 3D scanning compound is also available to extend the types of objects that can be successfully scanned by this scanner. The 3D scanning system is available for checkout on a first-come, first-served basis by inquiring in the Engineering Library.

Capturing a single full-color, high-resolution 3D scan in just a tenth of a second with incredible detail, the system uses two 3.5 Megapixel cameras, three Xenon flashes and three LED guide lights and scanning tracker targets. The technology combines a number of image processing techniques to allow for the acquisition of the images and compensates for the movement of the scanner. To make the 3D scanner even easier to handle, a few modifications were made to the system’s rig with 3D-printed brackets made in the Makers Commons in Pattee Library.

Once the 3D scans are captured, current Penn State students, faculty and staff can upload files to their Penn State Box folder and use 3D CAD software available in the University Libraries and campus labs for use for on-screen applications or prepare them for 3D printing. Approximately one week after the .makerbot file is submitted to the Maker Commons, Penn State students, faculty and staff may pick up their items at the Commons Services Desk in Pattee Library. Remote print submission is available for Commonwealth Campus and World Campus students.

Patrons who borrow the 3D scanning system from the Engineering Library can upload the scans to their personal cloud storage space and modify the files in the 3D CAD software of their choice. Local and online vendors can provide assistance with details and file settings specific to their 3D printing system. To obtain a Penn State University Libraries borrowers card, residents of Pennsylvania should make a request at one of the University Libraries’ service desks and provide either a Pennsylvania driver’s license or state I.D. card with a current address.

This 3D scanning technology pilot program in the Engineering Library was initiated through a proposal by Angel Peterson, information resources and services support specialist, Angela Davis, engineering librarian, and Linda Struble, information resources and services supervisor-manager. Their proposal was one of four winners selected for a University Libraries Innovation Microgrant last year.

For more information on this service, or for questions about accommodations and the physical access provided, contact Linda Struble, information resources and services supervisor-manager, at 814-863-1886 or in advance of your session.

Mobile 3D scanning technology comes to Penn State’s Engineering Library as pilot program funded by an Innovation Microgrant from the University Libraries. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated December 07, 2020