One of the biggest obstacles to at-home 3D printing is the difficulty of designing objects to print, but the days of struggling to learn CAD or trawling for templates online may be over. Fuel3D, Inc has just launched (and, in one day, successfully funded) a Kickstarter for a handheld, point-and-shoot, full color 3D scanner. That means you can now print anything you can take a picture of—for about $1,000.
3D scanners aren’t new, but other handheld devices cost upwards of $15,000, according to Fuel3D (they can’t be too far off, since all our attempts to verify led to intimidating “call for pricing” pages.) The tech of this particular model was first developed for medical imaging at Oxford University, and unlike a traditional camera, which just captures enough data to provide the illusion of depth, the Fuel3D actually records the geometry of an object. It uses geometric stereo (capturing an image from two different locations to perceive depth) and photometric stereo (capturing an image under different lights to perceive depth) simultaneously.
The data are combined to create a truly 3D, high-quality image in color. Best of all, the creators say it requires no calibration; Just hold it up in both hands and press a button. Easy software is also in the works, so in theory the finished product could make copying a real-world object as easy as click-click-click.