Why does the cost of 3D scanning vary so much?

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. The bigger 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 charging low ball prices, or some independent contractors that 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 comes down to an educated guess as to what it will take. 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.

Should you go for the lowest bidder to get the best deal? Probably not; the last thing you want is to take shortcuts on quality and end up with an unusable or poor quality result. Should you go with the highest bidder to ensure quality? If the same quality work can be obtained for less, then going with the highest bidder may be a waste of money. But there are exceptions to every situation, and each scanning project is unique. So in order to help you evaluate, We would like to offer some insights as to how much we charge to do certain types of 3D scanning projects.  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.  

Pump Impeller

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

Industrial burners and piping

We spent two days on-site scanning the burners at this power plant. Travel to the site, 3 days of on-site work, and 40 man hours of modeling resulted in a cost in the $10-15K range.

home 3d scanning services

Luxury Home Scan

We scanned this large luxury home in a major metropolitan area. The customer wanted a 3D as-built Revit model to use for planning an upcoming renovation. A day of on-site 3D laser scanning and a many hours of processing and modeling came together to deliver this accurate and beautiful result to the customer at a cost of around $10,000. 

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 $1500. If the brake caliper had been brought into the office, the scanning cost would have been under $500. 

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.

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. The is a good example of a small, somewhat simple part that needs to be scanned and modeled. If your part is not tremendously complex, it can most likely be scanned and modeled for under $500. But each part is unique, so call us for a customized quote.
  • Pump IMpeller 2D prints

    Once a 3D model is obtained, 2D prints are an easy “by-product” of the process, costing as little as $125 apiece. The 2D drawing can be a section through the part as shown, or standard top, front and side views. 

    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 $2,500 for the initial scan and $500 for the CAD drawing.

    competitive 3D scanning services

    Contact us to get the best value in 3d scanning without compromising quality.

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