Fuel3D: A Low Cost Handheld Colour 3D Scanner

by Matthew Wellington on August 20, 2013

Fuel3D Handheld Color ScannerThe engineering and introduction of Fuel3D is anticipated to leave a huge mark in the 3D scanning industry.

A few weeks ago when Fuel3D was first advertised in Kickstarter, the project surpassed its target funding of $75,000 in just two days. Clearly, this is the kind of 3D scanner that the market has been waiting for.

The technology used to create Fuel3D however is nothing new. The Fuel3D technology was first developed in 2005 at Oxford University, where it was mainly designed as a system that would help scientists achieve medical 3D imaging.

Now, close to 10 years down the line, the technology has been undergoing numerous improvements which have finally given birth to the currently famous Fuel3D scanner.

Despite the technology not being exactly new, one of the reasons why Fuel3D invention has sparked a lot of excitement among 3D enthusiasts is the low price that it promises. Fuel3D is not the first 3D scanner to get to the market; there are many different models of 3D scanners that one can go for. Nevertheless what sets Fuel3D apart from the rest is its extremely affordable and budget friendly price.

Unlike a majority of the other 3D scanners which are being offered at around $10,000-$15,000; it’s without saying that offering Fuel3D at $1000 is undoubtedly an early Christmas present to 3D enthusiasts. The initial prices of 3D scanners meant that only well established businesses could have access to them but with Fuel3D, everyone including the average computer users will have open access to the scanner.

Besides affordability, Fuel3D is a handheld scanner. This makes it convenient to the user unlike a good number of its competitors in the market. Its point and shoot design helps capture high resolution mesh and detailed color data from objects during scanning.

How the Fuel3D Scanner Works

A 3D scanner is typically any 3D data acquisition device that is used to analyze a physical object, collecting information about its particular shape among other appearance details such as color and the specific dimensions. A 3D scanner therefore collects data from a physical object enabling the user to store the information about the object in 3D digital form.

Once you have the digital form of the physical object you were scanning on your PC, you can then make any necessary edits in order to tailor the design into the exact dimensions and colors you want. Thereafter, you can print the now customized design through a 3D printer, giving you precisely the 3D object or model you wanted. That’s as easy as it can get!

Normally multiple scans will be required for the printer to comprehensively scan the object in question and retrieve all the data needed to create its digital form in 3D. Nonetheless, with the point and shoot design of Fuel3D, the scanner is able to quickly capture images from the physical object from all angles. This is actually what boosts its accuracy and speed when it comes to digitizing objects in three dimensions.

Essentially, Fuel3D will offer a faster and more accurate way of creating your own 3D models. Anyone with the scanner will have an easier time printing 3D objects. All you’ll have to do is scan any physical object that’s similar to the model you want to print, customize the model once you have its digital form and print your final object just as you want it to appear. Some of the objects that can be captured using this scanner include artwork, Food (e.g. ChocolateSugar or Pizza maybe), Fabrics and Skin amongst other things.

Simply put, during the scanning, the scanner will develop a point cloud of geometric structures around the object you are scanning. These are the points that the scanner uses to extrapolate the details of the object from its dimensions to its color(s) and practically every minute detail that builds up to form that particular object.

Fuel3D like many 3D scanners out there works in a similar way to an ordinary camera. When using it, it captures 3D information from objects within its field of view. Do not forget though that as mentioned earlier, you may need to take more than one or two scans for the scanner to fully capture all the details required.

Why is Fuel3D the Best?

You may want to know what are the upsides of Fuel3D when compare to other 3D scanners in the market. Good question. Here’s why Fuel3D is still a better option even when placed side by side to its competitors.

  • Firstly, unlike most other 3D scanners, Fuel3D is not a fixed-position device but a handheld device. With a fixed-position device, the scanner can only scan objects within the range through which the turntable it’s using can reach. Fuel3D can be held by the user so it has more scanning flexibility and can be used more easily.
  • Secondly, Fuel3D will be the cheapest 3D scanner to hit the market so far. While all the other scanners are being sold for close to $15000, Fuel3D will cost under $1000. Surely that says it all, Fuel3D allows you to save so much money but still get to enjoy all the benefits of owning a 3D scanner.

Aren’t there any other cheap 3D scanners around? Sure they are. Only one problem though, most of the cheap 3D scanners you’ll find have a very low resolution. This means they cannot capture information from objects with the same level of accuracy that Fuel3D can.


3D Prototyping and Printing technology is growing pretty fast. Many more people are finding the need to create 3D models either for their businesses or for personal interests. Considering that creating a 3D model can be really onerous and time consuming for the average user who lacks the required Modeling Software skills, Fuel3D offers a simple way of fabricating 3D objects and models.

Through the Kickstarter funding, the Fuel3D Company will be able to provide the 3D market with a low cost scanner that can efficiently and easily capture high quality data from objects. It is expected that this scanner will further propel 3D printing technology to greater heights.

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