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HelpTutorials3D Scan & Print with Shapeways

3D Scan & Print with Shapeways

Shapeways makes it easy to build a business with 3D scanning and 3D printing.

3D scanning enables anyone to capture a digital image of a person, resulting in a digital model ready for 3D printing. The outcome, 3D printed Selfies, are a fun way for consumers to have a memento of themselves, family and friends that they can hold in their hand, rather than a flat picture or one that never leaves a smartphone.

3D scanned people

Shapeways and Occipital, makers of the Structure Scanner and Skanect software, have partnered to make this process seamless, enabling you to build a business for little startup costs.

What You Need:

  • 3D Scanner & Software
    Purchase the Structure Scanner & Skanect Software bundle from Occipital for $499 (€448).
  • iPad
    The Structure Scanner works with an iPad Air / Air 2 / Mini 2 / Mini 3 / iPhone 6
  • Computer
    The scanner and software work best with the following operating systems:
    • Windows 7 or later (64 bits), Intel i7, 8 GB RAM, NVidia GTX 560 or higher
    • OS X 10.8 or 10.9, Macbook Pro 2012 or Macbook Air 2013
  • Light
    Use a high-powered, bright light for the best results. (example: Polaroid LED light)

How to Get Started:

  1. Create a Shapeways account
  2. Open up a Shapeways shop
    • Select your preferred Shop URL
    • Add your Shop logo and image
    • Add any additional links and descriptions for your shop
  3. Set up the Hardware
    • Macbook / Windows Laptop - Launch the Skanect application on your laptop or MacBook
    • Structure Sensor - Plug into the iPad
    • iPad - Connect to the same wireless network as the laptop and launch the app. Press Uplink.
    • Lighting - Try keeping the light not too bright and as close to daylight color as possible. Direct sunlight can interfere with the scanning sensor
  4. Install the Software
    • iPad: Download the Structure app to your iPad from the App Store and the Structure Sensor Calibrator app. Calibrate your sensor through the Calibrator app. You should run the calibration at each location before scanning for best results
    • Macbook / Windows Laptop: Download the Skanect program

How to Create a 3D Scan

  • Open Skanect on your computer and use the following settings:
    • On the Prepare tab, select New in the left nav, then Body for the Scene type
    • Adjust the bounding box to 2x height if you’re doing full body scanning (1x if doing bust or object scanning)
    • Use 1.3 x 2.6 x 1.3 for full body scanning
    • Select Start, then use your iPad to orient yourself around the subject
  • Click “RECORD” in the Structure app and begin scanning your subject (See "Tips & Tricks for the best scanning results
  • Click “PROCESS”
    • select WATERTIGHT from the menu (select low for smoothing)
    • select SIMPLIFY and move the slider to 200,000 faces
    • Select MOVE & CROP to crop the floor and include only the scan and pedestal
    • Select REMOVE PARTS to remove any floating shells that may have been captured in the scan. 80% works well as a setting
  • Click “SHARE”
    • Select Shapeways
    • Login with your Shapeways account
    • Authorize (first time only)
    • Upload
    • Select 5% scaling
  • Go to to set the correct sales price and email the link to the customer

How To 3D Scan: Tips & Tricks

  • People rarely stand perfectly still for a scan, which can result in a slight ‘seam’ where the software tries to join scanned surfaces together. Here are some things to keep in mind to get the best results:
    • Starting on the side of a person can help ensure that if there is a small seam, it will be away from the face and front
    • After scanning the side, move to the front of the subject and try to scan the face in one pass since this will be the most important part of the scan
    • Continue working your way around the body making sure that you overlap your passes so the software can continue to orient itself and making sure you get occluded spots like the top of the head and inside the legs and arms
  • Below are some tips on what to tell people that are getting scanned:
    • Wear glasses or any other type of reflective materials
    • Use or wear accessories such as purses, bags, sporting equipment, etc.
    • Include or pose with any small, thin details (e.g., pony tails, single fingers, etc)
    • Stand as still as possible throughout the entire scan
    • Hold hands close to the body
  • A high quality 5Ghz router is useful for scanning situations where there may be lots of wireless interference.

How to 3D Scan: Recommended Setup

  • Find a space at your venue 15’ x 15’. We often use cones to mark off the area.
  • Prepare a table for your computer, router, and iPad.
  • Have a platform at least 3” tall for your subject to stand on.
  • We usually go with a team of 3 and rotate roles:
    • Scanner
    • Take down customer info and operate laptop
    • Answer questions and help keep order in the line
  • Ensure adequate lighting (natural sunlight can interfere with the scanner); We use an LED panel attached to the iPad
  • Make sure all devices are fully charged. Bring backup batteries if needed.
  • Bring demo prints to get customers excited

What's Next?

Start your Business! There are a few ways you can make money with 3D Scanning:

  • Scan guests at events such as weddings, birthday parties, and more.
    For scanning at events we recommend charging a fee of approximately $750 - $1,500 for your presence (depending on travel, your time, and depreciation of your equipment) plus an hourly fee depending on the size and experience of you and/or your team. Then, we suggest that each person gets scanned at no charge, but charging for the 3D print. We recommend to charge $59 for a 10cm full color sandstone print.
  • Offer scanning at a fixed location (such as a retail store)
    In this case it’s best to charge per scan and include a print. If you’re adding 3D Selfies to your existing business or setting up a shop just for scanning, you don’t want to leave things up to chance. So we recommend charging per customer and include a print. This can be picked-up at the location 8 days later or sent home, that’s up to you.


A small percentage of scans won't be viable for printing. This is expected and you should be prepared to share this with your customers in advance, and have a backup plan for this scenario.

About Occipital's Structure Sensor & Skanect Pro software:

Structure Sensor: The Structure Sensor is the first 3D sensor for mobile devices. It easily attaches to mobile devices like iPads and iPhones to instantly add capabilities like full-color 3D scanning, indoor mapping of large spaces in 3D, and positional tracking for mixed reality experiences. The Structure Sensor was launched in 2013. Since its launch, developers have used the Structure SDK to create their own applications across a number of different use cases.

Skanect: Skanect Pro has been one of the most popular desktop 3D scanning softwares available since its release in 2012. It lets users easily capture, edit and share precise, full-color 3D models of people, objects and places using a Structure Sensor or a number of other available 3D sensors.

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