Next Engine Laser Scanner

ImToday I was introduced to the Next Engine 3D Laser Scanner. The scanner, about the size of a stack of college textbooks, relies both on digital photography and laser scanning to completely record and register a 3D model of a selected object.


The NextEngine scanner uses a camera, laser, and turn table to fully capture objects in 360 degree detail.

To begin, we set up the laser scanner in the Clarence Thomas Center computer lab. The scanner is connected to the computer via USB and is powered by a power cord. The actual scanner is connected to a small turn table, connected via an ethernet cable. The object we selected to practice working with was a concrete corbel. The corbel was placed on the turntable and the program was opened on the computer. Its interface and accessibility is remarkable easy and straight forward for a first-timer.

When opened, the program displays a small window on the right side that depicts what the scanner’s camera is capturing. This is used to gauge if the object is within the window of sight. On the left side, a plethora of options are available for users to select and modify depending if the scanning is able to capture enough data. For the first trial, we selected a single scan (without the turntable creating a 360 degree model) in standard definition (taking about 2.5 minutes to scan). The options for whether to use macro, wide, or extended view and whether it focused on dark, neutral, or light colors were changed constantly throughout our trials. We began the first scan and not much data of the object was collected.

It took several scans and several changes to the lighting or distance of the object in relation to the scanner to scan as much of the corbel as possible. Following the scans, the collected data was registered. The program also has a feature that enables you to align the various scans. Using three different points, you select the same point within two scans so that the program is able to successfully and accurately stitch together the scans into one cohesive and comprehensive 3D model.

In the end, our first few tries using the Next Engine 3D Laser Scanner was tricky and will require many more tries to fully understand how it works.


Trials using the Next Engine 3D Laser Scanner were completed in scanning an architectural decoration. The scanner (left) uses photography and lasers to capture and generate a 3D model of an object on the turntable (right).

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