David SLS-1 3D Scanner: Review

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The DAVID SLS-1.

A few years ago we spent some time with the original DAVID scanner Starter Kit. A functional and easy to use home laser scanning solution.

But the technology at that time meant the scanning process was slow and it also meant spending time in a dull to dark environment. The results were impressive but the level of involvement was high.

Since that time the team behind the DAVID Scanner, DAVID 3D Solutions, have released their latest addition to their 3D scanning Portfolio. DAVID-SLS-1 scanner uses Structured Light technology, to produce 3D scans in a matter of seconds.

Laserscanning: What is SL?

SL 3D scanning, otherwise known as Structured Light, is a means scanning objects using a projected striped pattern from a projector and reading the result using a camera.

The SLS-1 comes with all the tools needed to perform these scans without the need for any supplementary hardware or software.

Statue of David in SketchUp after 3D scanning

SL basically works by pulsing a series of light patterns at the object and building a mesh from this. In comparison to the Starter Kit which involves painting a laser over an object's surface there's a huge leap in time saving and ease of use. That being said, setup time intially, for those new to 3D scanning can be somewhat slow. But once you refine the process you would be ready to scan an object within 5 to 10mins.

The hardware included to do the SL scanning is substantial. An Acer K11 projector, high quality camera, Hahnel high adjustable tripod, 2 calibration studios and the DAVID software on a USB device.

For this review I decided to use a 10" replica of Michelangelo's David. As you can see in the opposite images the end results was a good return for the work involved.

I did have to do some polygon decimation in Blender as the actual result was too detailed to use in SketchUp. Below is the raw scan in Blender.

The scan

The SLS-1, as mentioned takes some time to setup but you are walked through the process with a supplied User Guide. The hardware assembly is straightforward and the only real head scratching comes when you have to do a bit of physical measuring of objects and distances between projectors, cameras and objects.

Once your are ready the DAVID scanning software looks after most things. Projector and camera calibration does mean fiddling with focus rings and aperture settings but it takes longer to type that sentence than it is to do it.

When everything is dialled in you can start the scanning process. There isn't much to do other than click scan and rotate your object on completion. For a full 360 degree scan I found anything between 8 to 12 rotations gave the best results.

In the top image you can see the object in the calibration studio, then result of the each pass and finally the completed 'fused' mesh.

To take your series of scans and compile them into one mesh the DAVID software has a system called 'Fusion' which will automatically align and heal any holes in the scanned mesh and export the result to either .obj, ply or stl. Ideal if you plan to go the 3D print direction.

You can also choose to export each scan separately to do further work in applications of your choosing. Another element to 'Fusion' is that it can also capture textures and apply these to the scanned meshes. I did play with this somewhat on other objects with mixed results. It is not flawed but when dealing with lighting and reflections it can get discontinuous with obvious changes in textures from scan to scan.

The most impressive area is the speed. The SLS-1 takes less than 4 seconds to scan. In comparison to the Starter Kit, that is 10 times faster and a 100 times less involved.

Also the difference in scan resolution between both means the SLS-1 is 5 times more accurate.

The Verdict 7/10

Pros:

  • Fast
  • Accurate
  • Ease of Use

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Software can crash at times

Overall, the scanning and mesh tools in the DAVD software are excellent. It caters for someone that wants to grab a quick scan all the way up to highly detailed scans.

In terms of accuracy and speed the SLS-1 is a crowd pleaser. The build quality is high and the bundled software gets the job done.

Since this review David Solutions has released SLS-2 which builds on the foundations of SLS-1