understanding the cost of 3d scanning services

breaking down price Factors for 3d scanning services

If you find yourself in the position of having to shop around for 3D scanning services, we understand that it can be a daunting task. Company A charges $300 to scan a small object, and Company B charges $1000 to scan the same thing. If you are new to 3D scanning, this can be especially confusing. Why does this happen? 

1. Company Size

Large companies that have been doing scanning for a while tend to have some “swag” with their pricing. You can very easily end up paying double what you should with these large companies. At the other end of the spectrum, there are always new businesses trying to break into the industry. They tend to charge low ball prices. Some independent contractors have very low overhead. 

2. estimation variability

Often, 3D scanning companies must estimate 3D scanning and 3D modeling time based on photos (and not always the best quality photos). This requires the estimator to make a judgement call based on prior experience. Some scanning projects are so unique that it’s estimate is merely an educated guess as to the time need to complete the project. It is easy to see in these cases how the cost of 3D scanning can vary between vendors.

3. apples to oranges comparisons

Sometimes companies will quote different types of deliverables. If you are not specific enough with the required output format in your quote request, one company may quote a less sophisticated output type at a much lower cost, giving the impression that they are cheaper when in fact they are not delivering the same type of result. 

4. specialization

There are many types of 3D scanners, and every scanner has certain strengths and weaknesses. For example, some scanners may make scanning a live human an easy task, where with other scanners it would be difficult.  There are similar differences in software capabilities between scanning companies. Companies with an equipment or software advantage will be in a position to bid lower. 

5. location

A company that has a location advantage will not have to include travel in their costs and can be more competitive in their local area.

the bottom line: research companies

The best advice we have for customers is to do your research on each company. Sometimes, it’s a risk going to the cheapest bidder. You don’t want a company willing to take shortcuts on quality. You may end up with poor quality or unusable product. A higher bidder might ensure better quality, but if the same quality work can be obtained for less, then you’re paying too much for your project. There’s a lot of freedom in 3D scanning and 3D printing, but finding the company that best fits your unique goals for project can be tricky.  There are exceptions to every situation, and each scanning project is unique.

We would like to offer some insights as to how much we charge to do certain types of 3D scanning projects. We are proud to be reliably cheaper than the bigger 3D technology companies (often by a factor of 2), yet not sacrifice quality. Perhaps you can find a project that is similar to yours, so that you can see where you may stand as far as 3D scanning costs go. 

3d scanning projects by arrival 3d

Below are a variety of services Arrival 3D provided for customers at different price points. Remember, each project was unique and needed specific accommodations to be successful. We provided the details so you would be able to see how the factors above play a role into pricing. 

projects $500 and under

Pump IMpeller 2D prints

Once a 3D model is obtained, 2D prints are an easy “by-product” of the process, costing as little as $300. The 2D drawing can be a section through the part as shown, or standard top, front and side views. 

Pump Impeller

This part was scanned in the office and modeled using Solidworks for around $500

motorcycle part

This motorcycle part was reverse-engineered to fit on a vintage Kawasaki motorcycle. The is a straight forward 3-step process: 3D scan, create a CAD model and 3D print. The cost was around $500 plus printing cost. This a good example of a small, somewhat simple part that needs to be scanned and modeled. 

Brake Caliper

This part was scanned at the customer’s location while still on the car. We provided the raw scan data to the customer. Due to the minimum 1/2 day required, the cost was around $1000. If the brake caliper had been brought into the office, the scanning cost would have been around $300. No CAD model was provided in this case. 

projects $1,000 - $2,000

cylinder Head

This cylinder head casting was scanned and modeled using reverse engineering. Due to the complex shape of the casting, the 3D laser scanning was only 20% of the cost. The bulk of the work went into creating a feature-based Solidworks model of high quality that the customer could use to create another mold. The cost was in the $1,000 range.

3d scan facade

Storefront Scan

We scanned this small section of street for the owner of an architecture firm in Tulsa. The customer wanted a dimensionally accurate image that could be traced over in AutoCAD. A half-day of on-site 3D laser scanning and a few hours of processing is all it took to deliver this color orthophoto in DWG format for around $1200. 

Point clouds

For most scanning projects, we can usually provide the raw point cloud at no additional cost unless you require a special or unusual format. So if your company has the ability to use raw point clouds, you are in a position to obtain a lot of value from 3D scanning services. Just 1 day of scanning at $1,750 per day can yield up to 30 or 40 scans, depending on the circumstances. This gets you an enormous amount of scan data to work with. We can do the scan registration for an additional $500, or you can do it yourself and save even more money.

projects $2,000 or more

scan to dwg

Floorplans & Elevation drawings

If your building is missing floorplans, a fast way to obtain them is to utilize on-site 3D laser scanning. After we scan the building, we can take slices from the point cloud and utilize those to re-create the original floorplans. The cost of projects like this varies based on size and complexity of the structure. This example here would have been around $2,000 for the initial scan and $250 for the CAD drawing.

3D-printed parts

We created 3D print files from drawings and produced a 3D printed assembly for a trade show. The challening part here was the the drawings were in PDF form and not in the best quality. About a third of the cost went into the effort of PDF-to-CAD conversion. Because of the large size of the print, as well as using transparent polyjet parts in places, the cost was in the $2500 range. The customer ended up with a tabletop plastic demo model that came in a carrying case and could be easily field assembled using magnets. 

Industrial burners and piping

We spent two days on-site scanning the burners at this power plant. Subsequently, 40 man hours were spent creating a CAD model. Travel to the site, 3 days of on-site work, and 30 man hours of modeling resulted in a cost in the $10K range.

360 degree panoramic images

When scans are taken in color, panoramic images are often included at no extra charge, viewable through Autodesk ReCap. Panoramic images are essential for performing “virtual site visits”, and being able to see what was present at the time of the scan. But they are not just photos. Simple 3D measurements can be taken from them. We don’t have a price point for this project yet. 

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