Introduction to 3D Scanning with the Nerf Crossbow

I created this blog post as an introduction to some of the technologies we can use for recreating these objects in 3D. Hopefully this gives you a good sense of it all!

The crossbow pictured below was graciously provided by Drac. I can’t thank him enough for the patience he had for me and this process. I was learning and steadily improving while working on this scanning project, but all in all, I probably had this crossbow in my possession for a 16 months!

I used a David Scanner and Next Engine 3D Scanner to begin this project.

Here’s what the scanning process looks like with the David Scanner. It projects a grid and looks to see how the projection gets distorted from two different camera angles.
Front half the blaster as seen in the David Scanner’s software
Here’s me 3D scanning the blaster with the Next Engine 3D scanner. This one is very slow, but it’s able to rotate the object around automatically to complete a 360 degree view. The scanner’s camera has a narrow field of view and multiple quality settings. Basically, the further away the rotary platform is from the main device, the more you scan scan at once. If you’re far from the sensor quality can noticeably decrease, so you need to find a good middle ground! 
Here’s a view where you can actually see how the laser is used on the Next Engine 3D Scanner. This Next Engine projects  verticle laser beams onto the object you’re scanning. It then measures the distortion to calculate the shape of the 3D body. This can be very computationally intensive – so you want/need a respectable video card!
Here’s the results of the Next Engine’s first scan pass.
The beginings of the 3D mesh assembly process in 3D-Coat, one of my preferred programs for working with polygonal mesh! I’m actually able to export .OBJ files out all these different scanning software packages, so I can quickly import all the different captures into the same 3D-Coat scene.

The only part left for me to do here is to align the rear scan with the scan of the front. That’s going to come at a later date, because I’m pretty content just knowing that I have this data with a phenomenal level of detail waiting for me. If you want to beat me to cleaning the data up more, you can find a download link on Nerfhaven.

Check back sometime next month for a post about the Supermaxx 1500 Arrow Shooter process, that project utilized an entirely different workflow!