Products and Design

Innovations to 3D Scan Reflective Materials

Near the front of the Studio section of SIGGRAPH is a large, spherical contraption. Covered in circuitry and emanating an intense light, this object looks like something from science fiction. In actuality, the object is the output of a research project.  This high fidelity 3D scanner is capable of solving one of the biggest problems with current technology right now; scanning reflective surfaces.


I spoke with Borom Tunwattanapong, founder of Lumio3D and he explained how the scanner works.

“This is a 3D reflectance and geometry scanner. It will project basis illumination on the object inside. We extract the reflection of the object out and use multi- view stereo algorithm to reconstruct the geometry. The final result is an accurate geometry with the texture on it, which is viewable in 3D.”


Tunwattanapong demonstrated by placing a soda can inside of the scanner. A pattern of flashing lights strobed and the camera snapped shots 360 degrees around the can.


“When we project the basis illumination we can extract some information, including a diffuse map, specular and a normal map. The diffuse map will show the texture, the specular show what is reflective reflectiveness and the normal map shows the angles angles of the surface.”

These textures can be reassembled back onto the 3D model file in most software packages.

Given the complexity of this machine,  I was pleased to learn that parts of the machine were 3D printed by Shapeways. Tunwattanapong pointed out that he used Black Strong and Flexible to make the most complicated parts for the structure that holds the components together. He chose to print in this material because of it was much less expensive than CNCing the part.  The turnaround time also proved to be faster than if he had cut out the parts from metal, while still being strong and dense to hold the scanner together.


Tunwattanapong predicts that this scanner could be useful in the manufacturing industry to help engineers analyze the structural integrity of parts, as well as the medical industry for scanning organic materials. Additionally, this tool could be used to scan common household objects, artwork and jewelry that have reflective surfaces.

We’re excited to the future of 3D scanning, and technology like the Lumio3D will continue to expand the types of materials capable of being captured and turned into a printable 3D object.


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