After my Portland 3D Printing Lab visit, and all the questions about the scanner technology for the HP Sprout, I thought I might talk a little bit about the less-noticed part of the scanning process in this post – the Capture Stage.
The HP Sprout Pro Capture Stage is a simple and innovative method of rotating and capturing 3D objects in digital format. It allows the scanning process to progress quickly and smoothly. Although you can scan objects manually, without the turntable, the quality of the scan is much better when the software coordinates it and the Capture Stage makes this seamless.
NOTE: I wrote more about the HP Sprout Pro system and the Tech Specs here.
Getting a clean scan with few holes is necessary for creating new objects, at least if you want to print them or have them look good on screen. Although motorized and manual turntables are better than attempting to rotate an object by hand, the Capture Stage is controlled by the Sprout directly, as it performs multiple scans. It takes the guesswork out of scanning. Ideal for anyone who wants to create digital, 3D images of live, real-world objects, the Capture Stage allows users to create objects that require fewer cleanups, less post-processing (editing that you have to do after the scan is complete).
After connecting the Capture Stage, a background scan occurs, so the application can edit that out of the final object. You can select a flat surface scan or one at a 15-degree angle. If you choose the 15-degree angle, which scans more of your object for you, HP recommends a soft, reusable putty to hold the object firmly to the platform.
When I started scanning different objects, I thought a heavy, solid object with a flat surface would not need the putty. However, there will always be some part of the object hidden from view, you will need to do several scans by position the object; front, back, multiple sides. The touchscreen allows you to manipulate the scan and see where additional data is required. Then, you can position your object accordingly.
If something goes wrong with one of your scans, say, for example, that you thought you could reach in and adjust the object quickly before the scan started, then you can easily remove just that layer and start the scan again. Of course, I’m not saying that I would try such a thing, but if you mess up a scan it is good to know. When the model is finished, the built-in software will compress the layers (scans) into one model, including the full color of the object.
The software will ask if you want to close small gaps or leave them open. I’m not sure why you would want to leave them open as gaps make your file unprintable, or at least problematic. But I appreciate that it gives you the option, since not everyone is doing this to create a 3D print. You can then save the file to manipulate later in one of many 3D editing tools built into the Sprout apps marketplace.
Like many laser and light-based scanners, it tends not work as well with shiny, transparent, or black objects. Objects with detailed textures seem to yield better results, but that can vary by the object. It does a fine job scanning most items. The quality of scans using the automated turntable makes it well worth the extra cost especially for professionals.
What I Like About The HP Sprout Pro Capture Stage:
- It works quickly
- It connects with the scanner and creates and integrated scanning process
- It allows you to scan an object flat or at a 15-degree angle
- You can layer scans on top of each other to create a more detailed 3D scan with fewer holes, which means less post-processing type work (as in you have to edit the file after, in a full CAD program or one of the free tools out there
- It removes the background “noise”
What I Would Like to See:
- It would be great if the turntable itself could work as a standalone device. Naturally, it only works with the Sprout right now, but it is such a useful addition to the scanning process that it would be great if indie artisans and makers could leverage its use with cameras (photogrammetry), for example, with a standalone app, for instance.
The bottom line is that the HP Sprout Capture Stage dramatically increases the quality of 3D scans and reduces the amount of time needed to create a working model from the scans. For educators and hobbyists, it is an additional cost that might not seem worth it, but it will save much time and effort in 3D scanning.
Disclosure: HP is a client and that means they pay me for a variety of work, however, they do not control nor approve my reviews or commentary on what I think about their product. The Sprout is on loan to me during one of my projects with them and I willingly take it around to share it with others (mostly on the west coast), but also do various testing and evaluation in my workshop.