They say 2013 is supposed to be the year of 3D printing. With your help, we'll make it the year of 3D scanning as well!
What is Moedls?
A cost effective laser based 3D scanner. Benefits include:
designed to be portable, but can be used in a desktop environment
designed to work with mobile devices, video cameras, SLR's and/or point and shoot cameras that have lockable/adjustable exposure settings and can capture decent video
powerful desktop and mobile based processing with STL and PLY export, watertight, and fully compatible with all known 3d printers
includes: lasers, rotating platform, mobile device stand (with tripod mount), mobile app, and PC/Mac desktop apps
designed to scan objects as small as a few inches tall to 30+ inches tall, with optimal resolution for any given object size
You can see an example of a plaster head turned into a 3d model in the above video.
Get a high resolution laser based mobile 3D scanner for as little as $199! See listings on right panel for details about each reward level.
Hardware for Scanning
Moedls produces the best results when you have the best hardware:
1) A slow, level, perfectly consistently rotating platform that rotates through 360 degrees in 40-60 seconds.
2) A laser that has consistent thickness through the line without bleeding, as close to 100% vertical as possible, and is held as still as possible during the scan.
3) A mobile device with a good quality camera and a holder for your mobile device that will keep your mobile device in position while pressing various buttons on the screen.
4) An easy way and accurate way to get the angle measurement mentioned above.
During development of the Moedls app, that hardware proved incredibly difficult to find, and I ended up wasting a lot of money buying hardware that seemed like it should work, but didn't.
The Solution: The Moedls Hardware Platform
The Moedls Hardware Platform is a hardware project consisting of a number of custom designed and built parts. The first is a custom built rotating platform designed to be as smooth spinning as a vinyl turntable, with guide markers for aligning the camera and laser, and a built-in easy and accurate angle measurement:
The prototype shown above is 10" wide plastic with some MDF parts, but the final version is 9" wide anodized aluminum with a non-reflective reversible top. (The opposite side is solid black.)
The Moedls Rotating platform comes with an external power supply and switch so you won't accidentally jostle the platform out of alignment when you turn it on or off.
Each laser comes in a custom enclosure with a 2.1mm power plug (as well as an external 2-AA battery power supply with on/off switch) so that turning it on/off won't change your laser alignment. The laser enclosure also has a standard tripod mount underneath. Here's a picture of the prototype laser enclosure and power supply with switch:
The final laser enclosures will be black.
I've designed a custom mobile device holder (for devices between 2 and 4 inches wide) that grips your device tightly so it stays aligned with the platform, and comes with a standard tripod mount underneath as well.
Since you'll want to adjust the camera position to the size of the object you're scanning, I've also custom designed a suction cup tripod mount with specially designed arms to make adjusting the laser and device to their best angles and positions easy. Here's the current prototype (final version will be made of plastic since the weight of the metal makes the suction cup less efficient):
All the prototypes are working well, and I've been tweaking the designs with the help of my manufacturer. Unfortunately, I'm almost to the point where large deposits are needed to build the molds, (almost $20k altogether) and this is where I need your help. I definitely can't do it without backers!
Once the molds are made, the factories still require MOQ's (Minimum Order Quantity) for each part, and this is what really drives up the goal amount, since I can't make a single complete unit without making a whole bunch of them.
With your help, we can make the Moedls Hardware Platform a reality!
The Reward Levels
There are 3 basic reward levels, with a limited 'Early backer/shipper' version and a regular version. The only differences between the 3 basic reward levels is the number, color and quality of the lasers; green lasers are more expensive than the red lasers, and the Pro lenses cost much more the standard lenses to produce, and that is reflected in the reward amount.
Every $50 and up reward level will also receive a zombie shooter cup, made from a scan of the head you see in the video, with the top of the head hollowed out. (Brains not included!)
Risks and challenges
I've already overcome the biggest challenge, in writing the Moedls app and proving the software concept, prototyping the parts, and finding manufacturers to build the final prototypes and go into production.
The only real challenge left is in tweaking the final prototypes, producing packaging, and coordinating the production schedule with the various manufacturers. To overcome this, I've established a relationship with one of the manufacturers to receive the various pieces, fix obvious issues, forward prototypes to me for evaluation, and help with the packaging design. When production begins, they'll package them individually, and send them to me in batches.
Since I'll need to sell quite a few to reach my goal, I've partnered with a small fulfillment company to make sure everything ships out smoothly.
I've set reward deadlines based on worst case scenario instead of best case, so that should minimize the possibility of shipping later than specified.
With laser scanners, accuracy is determined by the smoothness of rotation, the laser line thickness, the device's camera sensor, and distance from the object.
By custom designing a very slowly rotating platform, we can build in stability using bearings around the outside of the top disc, and a belt drive to smooth out any motor jerkiness.
We have excellent control over the laser, and I've found a supplier that can produce custom lasers with excellent stability, very little bleed, and excellent line intensity uniformity. I've chosen power levels for the red and green lasers that result in very similar brightness, which lets us do dual-laser scanning without one of the lasers washing out the other.
The bad news here is the camera sensor is totally out of our control. The good news is that they're already quite good, and getting better, so as you upgrade your mobile device, your scans will get better and better.
The last factor is the distance. You get much more detail when you take a picture of an object from 12 inches away than you do from 24 inches away. Since any laser scanner uses a camera's sensors, you get much the same effect here as well. I've made the lasers and mobile device holder separate from the platform for just this reason, so you can get as close in or as far away as you need to scan various sized objects at their optimal resolution.
The Advanced and Pro solutions differ only in the lens used to split the laser into a line, (the pro lenses are more expensive than the lasers themselves!) and that's covered in another faq.
The ONLY difference between the Advanced and Pro solution is the lens used to split the laser into a line. The Pro solution uses a Powell lens which is designed to create a line that has a more even intensity distribution along the entire line. This gives two advantages:
1) The intensity in the center is a bit lower, so the line should be more crisp, giving you a bit more accuracy in the center.
2) The ends of the line should be a bit more intense, giving a better reflection back to the camera, resulting in more points being picked up. (Less holes in the model.)
They both use lasers, cameras, and a cpu, but the similarity ends there.
With the Moedls hardware platform, you align the lasers and your mobile device's camera with the center of the rotating platform, capture a 360 degree rotation, and the app does the rest. There's no background pattern to print, no manually rotating the object and doing another scan, no stitching to do by hand. Its meant to allow you to do a scan as effortlessly as possible, while also being as mobile as possible. (And as inexpensive to purchase as possible.)
They are as different from each other as apples to oranges.
Up to a point, yes. You'll be able to use the Junior's rotating platform, mobile device holder, and two suction cup holders. The Junior uses a single Advanced laser, so you'd obviously have to get both Pro lasers, and you would also need another suction cup holder.
Quick answer: Any mobile video capture device (iOS, Android, SLR, point-and-shoot camera) with lockable focus and exposure.
Any iOS or Android devices with lockable focus and exposure should work as a standalone capture/analysis device. (We've tested it on the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5, and are developing the Android version with the Nexus 4.)
The laptop version of the software, not being as limited by memory or processing power, will be able to import from standard video files from iOS/Android devices as well as any digital camera that supports manual exposure. (You need to dial exposure down to avoid the super-bright lasers from blowing out.)
While making the hardware platform one-piece, with locked lasers and camera would make the unit more compact, it would also very much limit it in both accuracy and the size of the object you want to scan. If I had fixed the camera distance so the maximum object size was 30 cm, for example, then a 20 cm object would have approximately 2/3 the accuracy & resolution as it would be if I I could move the camera closer to the object.
When you're limited by your camera sensor (and you always are with a laser scanner), flexible placement is key to the best scans.
Meet the team for a pre-launch lunch in the Silicon Valley, where we'll shoot some pool, discuss upcoming features being added to Moedls, and give you your custom engraved Professional Scanner reward a month before the rest are shipped out!