Structure 3D Scanner: Hands on

Scanning the cactus on my kitchen counter

I just received my Structure 3D Scanner from Occipital. This was a Kickstarter that I backed last year. Here’s their video that shows what the scanner can do:

Structure 3D scanner

In the Box

The Structure 3D scanner is an addon for a mobile device, in my case, for an iPad Mini Retina (also works with an iPhone 5S). In the box, it comes with a lightning cable, power adapter, screwdriver, screws and mounting bracket in a separate box. You can choose which mounting bracket you get with it as well as an optional ‘hacker cable’ that allows you to use it tethered directly to a PC or Mac. At this time there isn’t an Android client but the cable will allow it to work when the software is developed.

Structure 3D scanner scanning a 3D printer

The Structure also comes with a Pro license for the Skanect scanning software (also compatible with the Xbox Kinect). Currently, the only way to perform a 3D scan is to use the Uplink feature of the iOS app to connect to a computer on the same wifi network and pair with Skanect running on a computer. This is wireless scanning! So much better than using a Kinect or Sense scanner with long USB cords.

Struture 3D Scanner

The scanning process is pretty straightforward and you get a live view of the model being created on the iPad as well as the computer screen. I’m still learning the settings and options but for my first few scans, it was pretty straightforward to get going.

My usual scanning test target is my favorite Mexican cactus which I placed on my kitchen counter.

Struture 3D Scanner

It was very easy to trim and smooth the scanned model immediately afterwards. In these scans, you can see the kitchen counter below the object which is easy to cut off. You can also add engraved text to the bottom of the model in Skanect.

Once printed, I was blown away by the quality and detail (despite reducing the faces of the model in post) which resulted in the best cactus print I’ve done yet (and I’ve printed a lot of these):

Structure 3D scanner

When I was in San Francisco for the Bay Area Maker Faire, I went to a Pre-Maker Faire party where the guys from Occipital were scanning people.

Double with a 3D scanned version of me via a  @structure scanner

So I got a scan and then they emailed me a link to to 3D print myself in full color!


Unfortunately, the software available to me right now isn’t for creating full color scans but it’s coming. Along with some other interesting apps that take advantage of the scanner. One interesting aspect of the scanner/iPad combo is that you can switch it to IR mode and literally turn it into a night vision camera setup…there are even IR LEDs you can turn on to illuminate stuff in complete darkness.

cat stalking in night vision mode
Structure 3D scanner
Looking forward to playing more with this ultra portable scanner – especially as the software evolves for it. I just wish it came with a lens cap or some kind of case for it and the bracket. If I take it off the iPad, the scanner, bracket, and iPad all fit into this small knockoff Pelican case I had perfectly.

It’s also worth noting that the Structure iOS app worked fine with iOS 8 beta 2 which I’ve got installed on my iPad Mini.


I wanted an iPhone 5S case for the scanner and so I created one. You can print your own from Thingiverse.
Structure 3D Scanner iPhone 5 case

Structure 3D Scanner iPhone 5 case

One Comment

  1. philnelson says:

    Great review, John! RE: the lens cap, one of your fellow Structure Sensor owners has created one. You can buy it here:

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