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The world’s first handheld point-and-shoot, full color 3D scanner available for under $1,000. Fire up your creativity!

Fuel3D: As covered in these leading consumer and industry media
Fuel3D: As covered in these leading consumer and industry media
Leading 3D artist Joshua Harker's Fuel3D cover in development
Leading 3D artist Joshua Harker's Fuel3D cover in development

We are delighted to reveal our special edition Joshua Harker designed cover for the Fuel3D, you can back this pledge level today right here on Kickstarter. Click here to view in Sketchfab

STRETCH GOALS 

1) Help us reach $250,000 and we will include tripod mounting capability to Fuel 3D along with PC remote triggering with all Fuel3D units. ACHIEVED !!

2) Help us reach 350 units of the Fuel3D and MeshUp bundle and we will add painless automated merging of multiple scans to create single unified model. UPDATE: We are now aiming to develop this software feature in time for the product launch, regardless of whether we meet the stretch goal or not. Read our latest update on this.

While this can be done now by manually using MeshUp or other tools, depending on the scan and desired results, it can require some time and effort. Hitting this goal will allow us to promise the delivery of a 'state of the art' automated registration and stitching workflow seamlessly integrated into MeshUp.

The Fuel3D handheld scanner

3D is booming… whether in the worlds of gaming, making, or art, the demand for 3D is ever-increasing. But generating high quality 3D images for use in 3D printing or gaming is typically time-consuming and expensive. A handheld 3D scanner today can cost upwards of $15,000, pricing them well above what most independent game developers, designers and artists can afford.

That’s why we’re here on Kickstarter.

We have developed the Fuel3D handheld scanner, a point-and-shoot 3D imaging system that captures extremely high resolution mesh and color information of objects. Fuel3D is the world’s first 3D scanner to combine pre-calibrated stereo cameras with photometric imaging to capture and process files in seconds. 

And, most importantly of all, at a Kickstarter price for under $1000 the Fuel3D costs less than one tenth of the price of its nearest industry competitor.

The Fuel3D scanner works in much the same way as a normal digital camera – literally point and shoot! But it shouldn’t be confused with the consumer 3D cameras available today.

The Fuel3D camera is significantly more advanced.

3D scan images taken with our Fuel3D functional prototype
3D scan images taken with our Fuel3D functional prototype

When we say 3D, we mean our system resolves a fully 3D surface consisting of a large number of physical and color measurements. These can then be viewed from any direction, edited, and used as source material for 3D printing or for on-screen manipulation.

Check out the portfolio page on our website – you can download actual scan files in .STL .OBJ and .PLY formats. Go play – we think you’ll like it!

So what can I use Fuel3D for?

Fuel3D can be used by anyone who wants the ability to rapidly create 3D models. Whether you are part of the maker movement, involved in mass personalization, a game developer, animator, 3D artist or any other type of creative developer who uses 3D, Fuel3D is a tool for you.

Fuel3D particularly excels in the capture of objects and surfaces including:

  • Skin e.g. faces and body parts
  • Fabrics
  • Organic subjects e.g. plants, leaves
  • Stone, masonry, brick, wood
  • Food
  • Artwork, e.g. textured paintings, statues

The following 3D scans were taken with our current functional prototype. In the final product that will be available through Kickstarter, the core technical components will remain the same so the data quality will be identical.

3D scan images taken with our Fuel3D functional prototype
3D scan images taken with our Fuel3D functional prototype

How we got here

The Fuel3D technology was originally developed at Oxford University for use in a 3D medical imaging system that has now been successfully used in hospitals across the world. Fuel3D Inc. has now been established to further develop this underlying 3D imaging technology into the world's first truly affordable high resolution handheld colour 3D scanner. Here's how we got here:

  • Feb 2005 – Prof Ron Daniel Lecturer in Engineering Science at Oxford University and James Patterson (finishing his PhD) agree to collaborate and file their first patent
  • Aug 2006 – Ron and Jamie’s new venture is spun out of Oxford University 
  • Sep 2007 – Decided to focus on medical applications (wound care) and developed first device using off-the shelf cameras and flashes stuck together with duct tape!
  • Oct 2009 – First functional Alpha prototype leads to NHS and VC funding, company expansion
  • July 2011 – Pre-production Beta camera released to clinical collaborators 
  • 2012/13 – Medical product now in use in 25 UK national health clinics, with other deployments in the US, France, Denmark, Australia and Afghanistan 
  • January 2013 – The lack of affordable, quality 3D scanning options for the burgeoning 3D market leads Stephen Crossland, to recommend a low cost general purpose 3D scanner based on proven medical technology
  • March 2013 – Fuel3D, the handheld scanner for under $1000 is conceived
  • June 2013 – Fuel3D Inc. is established to develop Fuel3D handheld scanner for non-medical market
  • Aug 2013 – Fuel3D working functional prototype launched on Kickstarter 
  • (Future) May 2014 – First Fuel3D devices delivered to early bird Kickstarter pledgers
The above sequence shows a selection of prototypes and concepts that have led to the Fuel3D scanner. The black model (lower centre position) is our functional prototype.
The above sequence shows a selection of prototypes and concepts that have led to the Fuel3D scanner. The black model (lower centre position) is our functional prototype.

What we’re going to do

We have already developed a fully working prototype scanner, with your assistance we can perform the final engineering work to lower the component costs to enable us to offer Fuel3D from under $1000 here on Kickstarter, plus further develop our software to make access to our high quality 3D data as easy as possible. By reaching our goal here on Kickstarter, we can do this. 

We believe we are offering an incredible price for a 3D scanner, particularly one that comes with the flexibility and ease of use of being handheld and can also generate high-resolution, high-quality, full color true 3D geometry. 

Internal view of functional prototype
Internal view of functional prototype
Key components of Fuel3D (left to right): main PCB, flash reflector module, stereo optics assembly
Key components of Fuel3D (left to right): main PCB, flash reflector module, stereo optics assembly

Product design

The product shown in our video is the working functional prototype we have today. The final product will be quite different in design and smaller in size. We’ve also included some product design graphics to show you where we’re going with the final product.

Technical stuff

When you take a picture on a conventional 3D mobile phone or digital camera you are using a technique known as stereoscopic imaging. This uses two camera viewpoints, one for each eye, to display a “3D” image on a stereoscopic screen that gives the impression of depth.

In contrast, the core technology behind Fuel3D fuses geometric and photometric stereo 3D recovery techniques and is finely tuned to capture high resolution 3D color images. This raw capability provides the opportunity for an object to be captured in true 3D geometry and full color. The technology is also inherently good at capturing other highly textured surfaces, both organic and inorganic.

Once a shot has been taken on the Fuel3D scanner the raw image data is converted into true 3D color geometrical data by our own software, which is included with the Fuel3D scanner. To run the Fuel3D software, you will need a reasonable specification computer (Mac, Windows 7 or higher, 2GB RAM, dual-core processor).

Our software generates a 3D color data file and allows some basic editing functionality prior to export:

  • Trimming of unnecessary areas 
  • Adjusting the resolution for export, in turn reducing the polygon number for easier handling
  • Exporting in commonly used 3D file formats, including .OBJ .STL and .PLY with color

Output resolution from Fuel3D varies with the distance of the system to the subject. The best achievable resolution is approximately a 250 micron sampling. To provide an indication of data accuracy, an object known to be flat (-/+ 0.25mm) was imaged several times at the minimum achievable resolution (i.e. the greatest distance from the Fuel3D scanner). A synthetic plane was then fitted to the data and error bounds calculated as distances from the plane. Results were as follows:

For further product specifications and other technical information please click here to download our technical overview. 

A full 3D solution

At Fuel3D we are focusing on providing the best possible data quality achieved at the most accessible price. Depending on what you want to do in the 3D world you will probably need some other technology to form your full solution. Here are a couple of suggestions from us:

Software - Many third party software packages are available for further 3D data processing beyond the basic tools you get with Fuel3D. We have seen some really exciting things done with 3D scan data in MeshUp software from Uformia, another Kickstarter success story, so we have buddied-up with them to offer a limited number of Fuel3D scanners along with a MeshUp license for only $1090! The Uformia team are delighted with Fuel3D's data quality and how easy it is to work with in their software. 

Combining of two separate scans from Fuel3D in Meshup
Combining of two separate scans from Fuel3D in Meshup

Watch the video..

3D printing – As with software there are a multitude of 3D printers on the market. Recently two really exciting products came to fame right here on Kickstarter! The Form 1 3D printer from Formlabs produces high-resolution, high-quality prints that capture the full-detail of the Fuel3D.  Pirate 3D's Buccaneer produces low-cost ABS prints, that allow you to create scans easily. We are in discussions with both manufacturers and hope to bring you positive news about technical and commercial collaborations.

In addition to these technical collaborations we are also working closely with London based iMakr
In addition to these technical collaborations we are also working closely with London based iMakr

iMakr is an online store selling a wide range of 3D printers and materials, 3D art and 3D scanners and also operates the world largest 3D Printing store over 2 floors in central London. “Using a typical 3D scanner to capture an image can take a long time and requires the subject to remain very still,” said Sylvain Preumont, founder of iMakr. “With Fuel3D, you will be able to simply click one button to capture a very high quality 3D model of your subject in just a few seconds. Combine this with the incredible price they are selling it for and Fuel3D makes us very excited!”

The competition

Many different types of 3D scanner are available today, with prices ranging from a few hundred, up to hundreds of thousands of dollars, each with different capabilities and limitations. We believe that Fuel3D’s flexibility, quality and low price point gives us a unique position in the market and is a recipe for success… the table below outlines our key advantages against the other main types of scanner.

Scan data comparison: Fuel3D on the left and Kinect (aligned but un-merged meshes) on the right
Scan data comparison: Fuel3D on the left and Kinect (aligned but un-merged meshes) on the right
Fuel3D limited edition T-shirt and sculpture of Fuel3D face scan
Fuel3D limited edition T-shirt and sculpture of Fuel3D face scan

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Development Risk

The development of the Fuel3D scanner is low-risk. The Fuel3D development program is essentially a re-configuration of an established technology that has already been successfully deployed in high-end medical applications. The objectives of the re-configuration are: to reduce cost while maintaining current system performance; reduce product size and weight; ‘tether’ the device to a PC/Mac so images are automatically exported for processing; and removal of medical regulatory required features and unnecessary components.

The functional prototype shown in the video has had many of the required modifications already made. It is not in the final form, we have engineering diagrams that show the layout of all the remaining components that will be needed in the final product. This format needs to be market tested in order to ensure its suitability.

Manufacturing plan

Fuel3D will use a specialized outsource manufacturing partner to assemble the final product. We are already talking with several trusted companies and will shortly make a final decision about which partner we will proceed with. The success of this manufacturing program is therefore not reliant on new production capabilities and facilities being developed by Fuel3D directly. The outsource manufacture facilities being considered all specialize in working with technologies like Fuel3D, and have already been proven highly capable, therefore manufacturing risk is minimized.

The following key points outline what has been accomplished so far and what is still required in the manufacturing plan:

Completed:

1. Take an existing medical device, remove the non essential medical related items
2. Produce beta software that removes the medical specific application including encryption
3. Take a wide range of images and check functionality of system
4. Prove system performs are required accuracy level
5. Develop trimming software and trim a variety of images
6. Export files to 3rd party software, Meshup and Meshlab
7. Create full 360 3D models in 3rd party software
8. Check water tightness of images and suitability for proposed applications
9. 3D print a selection of images or import into games development environment
10. Go, no-go decision on design
11. Produce a final bill of materials (BoM) to validate pricing
12. In pro-engineer assemble BoM into a proposed design

Still to complete

13. Test product demand on Kickstarter
14. Appoint final manufacturer to assemble new product
15. Produce beta hardware of final Fuel3D design
16. Test Beta hardware
17. Modify hardware as appropriate
18. Manufacture first batch for Kickstarter customers

Our Software development, in addition to the functionality detailed above, requires testing and developing for the Fuel3D platform:

1. Gather the exiting software functions into an integrated suite that allows smooth capture, manipulation and export (in common formats including .STL, .PLY, .OBJ) images
2. Develop further algorithms that broaden the suitability of the system to capture scans of other objects
3. Add support for Mac OS
4. Optimize algorithms/software for revised Fuel-3D hardware

People

One of a young company’s greatest challenges is often its people, but Fuel3D brings together an expert team, including the originator of the core technology, Prof. Ron Daniel of Oxford University, who is serving as the company’s technical advisor. The management team consists of highly qualified individuals and between them have great strength in depth, which is supported by qualifications and accolades, including a winner of the MacRobert Award, the UK’s most prestigious award for engineering, winner of two Queen’s Awards for Enterprise, which recognize outstanding achievement by UK businesses, as well as a three-time finalist for Scottish Entrepreneur of the Year.

We have the expertise in-house to complete this project, and make Fuel3D a reality.

Stephen Crossland, Chief Marketing Officer & Kickstarter project leader
Stephen joined the Fuel3D team in 2013 bringing seven years of sales and marketing experience from a Fortune 500 company in the medical industry. A graduate of West Virginia University, Stephen previously owned and ran an electronics consultation and installation business. Stephen has a passion for 3D and is highly motivated to make the US market a huge success.

Stuart Mead, CEO Fuel3D
Stuart has a 25-year history in disruptive technology and is a senior sales and marketing pro. He was CEO of multi-award winning prosthetics company, Touch Bionics and learnt start-up at biopharmaceuticals manufacturer Excell Biotech. Previously he was a senior manager in both Kodak Clinical Diagnostics and Johnson & Johnson. As a former professional motorsport racer Stuart loves the speed of fast companies like Fuel3D.

Dr. James Paterson, CTO
James is co-founder and co-inventor of the technology underlying Fuel3D. James left Oxford University to work for the company full-time after completing his D. Phil in Engineering. He has authored numerous patents and publications and has led the development and delivery of the technical aspects of the company since its inception. Jamie has lived and breathed 3D scanning for 7 years; he dreams of 3D sheep!

Prof. Ron Daniel
Ron Daniel is a University Lecturer in Engineering Science at Oxford University, and Fellow and Tutor in Engineering at Brasenose College, Oxford. He is co-founder of Fuel3D. In 2006 he was elected as a member of the University’s Audit and Scrutiny Committee. Ron’s expertise and gravitas provides an excellent balance to Fuel3D’s energetic and passionate team.

FAQ

  • We want to engage with the beta users before release of the full production version so yes, we plan to give lots of support.

    Also, if we implement any material feature enhancements between beta and final release, or identify any performance impacting issues with the betas, then we would plan to update/modify - likely through a swap-out for hardware points, software is clearly easier so we would issue an update.

    Last updated:
  • The Fuel3D camera is significantly more advanced than consumer 3D digital cameras. When we say 3D, we mean our system resolves a fully 3D surface consisting of a large number of physical and color measurements. These can then be viewed from any direction, edited, and used as source material for 3D printing or for on-screen manipulation.

    Last updated:
  • Fuel3D exports into a range of commonly used 3D file formats, including .STL and .PLY with color. The file size varies with format, but is typically less than 50MB.

    Last updated:
  • We consider our value to be in creating the best possible 3D data at a great price. Where further editing is needed such as stitching or merging of multiple 3D images, localized smoothing, hole filling, or other post processing tools for general 3D display or preparation for 3D printing, then you will need to use third party software to do this job. There are many products available, but here are four good ones we know about:
    • Meshup from Uformia
    • Majics from Materialise
    • Geomagic or Rapidform from 3D Systems
    • MeshLab

    As you will see from our main content we are working closely with Uformia and offer a pledge level which includes Meshup with the Fuel3D scanner. Meshup already provides simple to use tools to enable you to align by eye and then join multiple meshes together in a 'union' operation, plus some nice blending tools to eliminate any surface imperfections in overlapping areas. We have some video information showing Meshup working with our 3D scan data so you can see these functions in use.
    Unfortunately Meshup doesn't currently have any registration tools but this is something we are working on together with Uformia, so hopefully there will be extra features like this by the time the scanner and software bundle ships.

    Last updated:
  • The target has three purposes:

    Firstly, it enables the camera to auto detect when it is held at an optimal distance from the object being scanned.

    Secondly, it is used as a common point of reference in each set of stereo images taken with each of the three flashes (6 images in total) so that high quality 3D data can be captured with the natural level camera shake that will occur with a handheld system.

    Lastly, it is also used as a compensation mechanism for when scanning living things that move slightly during image capture.

    Last updated:
  • We have reviewed the Fuel3D scan data quality with a number of 3D printer developers & distributors including 3D Systems, Stratasys, Pirate 3D and FormLabs and the response was universally that the full scan quality and resolution captured by Fuel3D would be lost on any FDM printer they were aware of, even the very high end printers costing well over $100k.

    It may therefore seem like a this anecdotal information contradicts the numerical measure of resolution where the number quoted for a specific 3D printer may be higher resolution than that quoted by Fuel3D, however, it is important to note that this is not a like-for-like comparison.

    The Fuel3D scanner quoted resolution represents the size of the triangles in the mesh, which are joined contiguously, and therefore 'flow' to very closely represent the 3D surface. For a 3D printer the resolution number represents something quite different, the physical step or layer size in the model. You can therefore see that a much finer step size is required in the 3D print to represent the surface as closely as a contiguous triangle mesh.

    Follow this link to an image of one of our face scans printed on the Form 1 high resolution stereolithography 3D printer.
    https://twitter.com/formlabs/status/365831579991429120/photo/1

    We have posted more details on our blog:
    http://www.fuel-3d.com/fuel3d-and-output-resolution-for-3d-printing/

    Last updated:
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    An awesome Fuel3D USB stick/laser pointer combo with our logo.

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    A limited edition grey T-shirt with our logo on the front, and “Fire up your creativity” along with a cool 3D rendered image on the back.

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    A Fuel3D scanner from our third full production batch. Plus: one license of Uformia's MeshUp software for 3D mesh data processing.

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    Fuel3D scanner with special edition Joshua Harker designed cover. In this exciting collaboration Joshua is designing a unique cover for the Fuel3D (factory fitted and added to your Fuel3D scanner). Described as a “OUIJA planchette executed in the tangled filigree aesthetic” we can’t begin to describe how excited we are! Check out Josh's website to see examples of his exciting work www.joshharker.com

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    A Fuel3D handheld scanner. Standard list price but shipped ahead of website orders for delivery. Plus: one license of Uformia's MeshUp software for 3D mesh data processing. Meshup offered at standard list price

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    A unique hand crafted sculpture incorporating a Fuel3D scan of your face, made in gold plated solid silver.

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Funding period

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