Friday, March 2, 2012

Line Laser for 3D Scanning

Recently I stumbled upon laser based 3D scanning. All I needed was a line laser, but I didn't want to buy one because they're kind of expensive. So I just built my own using stuff I had lying around:

Read more if you want to see another line laser concept, 3D scan results and a video.

I'll start with the basic items needed:

You will need a small DC electric motor, a cheap laserpointer and small mirrors. Just attach one little mirror to the motor's axis and build a little holder for the laser:

As the motor spins the mirror the reflected laser will form a perfect line. As long as the motor spins with more than 24 rps there will be no problems with cameras and 3D scanning:

And here's a video of the laser line:

There's another way to create a laser line from scratch:
Take an old harddrive, disassemble it and remove the actuator mechanism:
Attach a little mirror as shown in the pictures below:
The next step is to attach the actuator's coil to some AC current:
The complete setup will look like this:
The AC current through the coils will cause a vibrating actuator arm. This setup also provides a quite good line laser !
Here are some of my 3D scans I made with these two setups:
You can create your own scans using the free software 
This was a fun project and I hope you enjoyed it!


  1. Take a polygon assembly or better whole print head from broken laser printer - you can replace laser diode with your own, but there you've got complete collimator unit and lenses providing nice thin line ;)

    1. That reminds me that I've got 2 of those lying around! Gonna go and check it out!

    2. Or, uh, eBay:

  2. Just shine a laser into a cylindrical piece of acrylic. Voila, a line.

  3. Hey Google 123D Catch, best 3d "scanner" ever. It works GREAT!

  4. did u just fire a laser to your cats face??

  5. Why do you do this in a complicated mechanical way?
    Why not do this by the means of some optical method ?

    Just put a cylindrical glass rod with a diameter between 1.5mm and 3mm in front of the laser. You could also try a half cylinder.

  6. Thank you so much for the 1st comment on this post. That was something, really beneficial and full of information. Now I know how can I get that thin line. :D

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  7. This is the main problem with line laser, they're too expensive. Price is very unreasonable. Good thing, you provided great alternative. Unbrako

  8. Okay, that is really awesome. You got some incredible detail from a homemade laser! Have you compared yours to one from a land surveying equipment store? Does it hold up? How does it compare price-wise to buy the fully assembled laser versus the parts to create your homemade one? Really cool project. Thanks for sharing.

  9. The problem with a laser printer laser scanner is you need a circuit to drive the motor. It's not as simple as hooking up some DC to it. It's a precision speed motor with feedback so the other control circuitry knows exactly when to turn the laser on and off.

    The drive circuit just to make it spin for a laser line *should* be simpler because all you need is for it to spin fast enough to make a constant, solid line.

  10. You should use a front or first surface mirror. Using a normal mirror with the reflective surface on the back of the glass results in a double reflection and blurring of the laser because it reflects off both the silver or aluminum coating and the front of the glass plus the refraction of it passing through the glass.

  11. Oh wow, this is very resourceful! Kudos to you! I know there are several 3d scan services here and that's an excellent one.

  12. I like the idea of making the line laser for 3d scan.

  13. I just bought five lasers with line lenses on them for a total under $20. This solution is resourceful but unnecessary.

  14. The situation which has a beam of light printer's beam of light protection can be you'll need a circuit to operate a vehicle the actual motor. It isn't really seeing that straightforward seeing that hooking up several DC for it. It's really a accuracy speed motor having suggestions to ensure the other manage circuitry is aware of exactly any time to turn the actual beam of light don / doff. Create store cards

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