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3D Scanning with the H-Series

Updated: May 11, 2021

True customization of footwear is an application for 3D printing that has been on the near horizon for the better part of a decade. It was one of the expected growth areas for the market when the first TPU filaments became available, but a few gaps in the toolchain caused a long delay. Software packages like Fusion360 close some of these gaps, and now with the H-Series we’re closing the others. One of the main challenges of fully-customized footwear is getting the CAD data of a subject’s feet into a digital form usable for the footwear designer. Early in this project, we experimented with consumer-level handheld 3D scanners (photogrammetry).

It is possible to scan the entire foot with these devices, but not in the loaded position. If the subject is standing, the most critical portion of the foot for custom shoe design (the bottom) is inaccessible to the scanner. A viable alternative we’ve found is to scan an impression of the foot made in a conformable material, like kinetic sand. But even for such a scan, commercial handheld 3D scanners are both overpriced and underperforming. So we added this need to the development list for the project.

There is nothing magical about the operation of the Diabase scanner system. It uses a camera to identify where a pair of laser lines fall on the object. Since the laser sources have a known angle of incidence, the X-deflection of the laser lines when viewed from above is directly proportional to the Z-value of the scanned surface. The system knows the mechanical configuration quite accurately, so it can use the lasers to generate depth information across a series of scans, thus creating a point cloud of the entire object. It is a simple, elega