3D Scanning at the NExT Lab

This article introduces 3D Scanning & Digital Reconstruction and associated workflows within the context of the NExT Lab.

What is 3D Scanning / Digital Reconstruction?

3D Scanning and Digital Reconstruction are technologies and workflows that can convert physical data into digital data. They are powerful tools that reconstruct physical models physically. Digital reconstruction has been used by many professions as a powerful through reconstructed digital models, examples include:

By using the reconstructed digital models, you can

  • Heritage & Preservation

  • Digital Twins

  • Analysis

  • Asset Creation

page3D Scanning Use Cases

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Picking a Technology

Once you have completed the training and gotten access from above, pick the most appropriate workflow for your project. The NExT Lab supports 3 main workflows; suitable for different scales:

Data Capture Workflows can directly and precisely read from the physical world.

Data Generation Workflows requires an intermediate medium, to calculate/estimate data from the physical world.




Ease of Use


Artec EVA

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

★ ★ ☆ ☆☆

  • Small - Medium Objects

Artec LEO

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

  • Small - Medium Objects

Leica BLK 360

★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

  • Buildings and Spaces

  • Environments


★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

  • Buildings and Spaces

  • Environments


★ ★ ★★ ☆

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

  • Large Objects

  • Buildings and Spaces


As all the technologies use light in some way, they do not deal well with transparent and highly reflective objects. More information on how light and vision affects the outcome can be found here.

Artec Scanners

The Artec family of scanners are professional-grade and lightweight handheld scanners which uses Artec Studio, a proprietary companion software used to post-process and extract data from the scanners.

The scanners use Structured Light Technology (SLT) - a light pattern is projected from the scanner where its distortion on surfaces is understood as 3D data by its sensors.

Artec EVA

Artec LEO

  • Must be tethered to a laptop, which is used as a viewport for feedback as you scan.

  • Power may be portable or tethered.

  • Scan data is immediately available for processing.

  • Completely portable with battery power.

  • Heavier but easier to scan with more freedom to move around objects.

  • Touchscreen acts as the viewport for feedback as you scan.

  • Data must be transferred to the processing laptop separately.

Use Case + Scale: The Artec family is mostly recommended for scanning objects medium-sized objects where a high level of accuracy is required. Best practice is walking around the stationary object to be scanned.

Time: Overall scanning time can be varied based on object size and complexity, on top of time needed for post-processing with Artec Studio. A simple object with automated settings can be completed within 10-20 minutes, however best practice can take upwards a few hours.

Ease of Use: This is potentially the most difficult method of digital reconstruction, it may take a few hours to get comfortable with the hardware and software environment, but once the basics are learned, the software and hardware is quite intuitive.

Dimensional Accuracy: The Artec family of scanners provides up to 0.2mm accuracy.


Photogrammetry is a process that converts a series of 2D photos into 3D spatial data using a camera and software. Agisoft Metashape is the photogrammetry software of choice in the MSD. This software can be used to generate point cloud and mesh data. A little skill in photography is required as these photos will need to be taken manually.

Use Case + Scale: Photogrammetry-based digital reconstruction is recommended for medium to large objects, ranging from scale models to sculptures, rooms and buildings.

Time: With some planning ahead and analysis of the subject that is to be photographed, photogrammetry can be very quick. Do note that processing may take up to a day depending on the quality of the final outcome.

Ease of Use: Photogrammetry is straightforward and highly accessible, all you need is a camera (preferably a DSLR camera).

Dimensional Accuracy: Can vary from project-to-project, photo quality and the size of the subject - photogrammetry is accurate to 3mms for small objects but up to 50mms for large buildings. The disadvantage of a Data Generation workflow is that it is dependent on the intermediate medium of photography, there may be minor distortions to the image compared to a precise Data Capture workflow.

Leica BLK360 Terrestrial Scanner

The Leica BLK360 Laser Scanner is a very portable, lightweight terrestrial scanner. It uses a rotating + spinning laser with time-of-light technology to directly capture an environment. Chain together a series of these scans to generate accurate colour point cloud data.

Use Case + Scale: Terrestrial scanning is recommended for room-scale, buildings and larger environments.

Dimensional Accuracy: Laser scanners can expect consistent deviation of 4mm at 10m assuming good links between all the scans in a project.

Ease of Use: The BLK360 workflow is by far the simplest to use. Paired with an iPad, scanning is practically one-touch and the software is straight-forward.

Time: Scanning speeds of the BLK360 are fast, but the workflow can be quite slow waiting for data transfer and processing through the software.

Z+F Terrestrial Laser Scanner

Please contact NExT Lab.

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