A 3D scanner is a device which can analyse a real-world object or environment to collect data on its shape and possibly its appearance (e.g. colour).
The collected data from the 3D scan can then be used to construct digital three-dimensional models.
Many different technologies can be used to build these 3D-scanning devices; each technology comes with its own limitations, advantages and costs.
Many limitations in the kind of objects that can be digitised are still present, for example, optical technology, may encounter many difficulties with shiny, mirroring or transparent objects.
For example, industrial computed tomography scanning and structured-light_3D_scanners can be used to construct digital 3D models, without destructive testing.
Collected 3D data is useful for a wide variety of applications.
These devices are used extensively by the entertainment industry in the production of movies and video games, including virtual reality.
Other common applications of 3D Scanning technology include industrial design, orthotics and prosthetics (in surgical and medicine), reverse engineering and prototyping (e.g in the Automotive and Aerospace industries), quality control/inspection in manufacture and the digitization of cultural artifacts in museums and libraries