TAMPA- Students and faculty at the University of South Florida can now make 3D scans for free at the new Access 3D Lab.
Access 3D lab instructor, Michelle Assaad, demonstrated how to use one of the newest pieces of equipment on campus, the Artec Space Spider. She held the iron-shaped plastic scanner in her hand as she panned slowly over a miniature stone statue.
Blue-tinted LED lights flashed from five circular holes on the face of the scanner. While she scanned, she kept her eyes fixed on the computer screen as the data digitally pieced the statue together.
The Artec Space Spider is a $24,800 3D scanner that has the capability of capturing images of small and medium-sized objects. Originally developed for the International Space Station, the scanner is now mostly used for reverse engineering, industrial design, manufacturing, health care, science, education, art and design.
A more recent project was the first ever presidential face scan of former President Barack Obama. Two 3D professionals circled Obama as he sat still in a chair for 90 seconds. While the finished project took over two years to complete, the actual scanning process took a total of seven minutes from the minute Obama stepped into the room.
According to Assaad, not only is the Artec extremely precise but it is also easy to use. She uses many different methods to scan various objects. One way is through trial and error.
“Sometimes you just have to figure out what angles…get on the table itself, bring the object down to the ground, it’s just a matter of experience. It’s about developing your own personal workflow.”
First, plug the Artec into a computer and a power source. After opening the Artec Studio Software, turn on the scanner by pressing the button up once. Scanning objects can be done with or without the flashing lights. To activate the flash, press the button on the scanner again.
One of Assaad’s most recent projects consisted of scanning her own personal cameras. Based on her prior experience with the Artec, the lights are not needed when it comes to reflective objects like glasses, cups and jars.
“Turn them off. It’s best for reflective materials like cameras or metals. If it’s a jar, that’s especially difficult…turn them off and you won’t have that kind of reflection.”
Once the scanner is turned on, scanning can take anywhere from 10 to 40 minutes depending on the size of the object and the user’s skill level. To turn off the scanner completely, press down on the back button.
After that, the completed digital image can be edited, manipulated and perfected to its final form through the software. Assaad says manipulating 3D data is something that takes practice. Students are encouraged to try one of the many 3D tools like the Artec Space Spider.
“That’s sort of the pro of having someone here who actually knows and can help teach you the tricks that maybe aren’t in a manual or online. Just email us and we’ll set up a time…all day if you want it doesn’t matter, that’s what we’re here for.”
Free lab access is available for students and faculty only. Normal lab hours are Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at CMC102.