The Luxembourg-based manufacturer Artec 3D has specialized in the development of portable 3D scanners in recent years. These include, for example, the Eva, the Space Spider or the Leo Scanner. The company recently added another category of 3D scanners to its portfolio, including the Micro Scanner. The Micro is a desktop scanner designed to scan small parts. The range also includes the Artec Ray, a laser 3D scanner that was developed for scanning large parts indoors and outdoors, e.g.: wind turbines, ship engines, aircraft or building parts.
The Artec Ray has been on the market since 2018 and features LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology. According to the manufacturer, the device offers a precision of less than a millimeter, a range of 110 meters in combination with a wide field of view of 360º×270º, an acquisition speed of 208,000 points/s and a built-in battery with a maximum runtime of four hours. These features and a recommended retail price of €56,000 clearly make the Artec Ray a professional scanner solution. After testing the Artec Micro and the Artec Leo, 3Dnatives had the opportunity to extensively test the Artec Ray 3D scanner. So what possibilities does the device offer? How easy is it to use? Which applications can be realized with the Ray? We took a closer look at the device for you.
1. Unpacking the Artec Ray Scanner
Visually, the Artec Ray looks like a rectangular prism with dimensions of around 287×200×118 mm and weighs almost 6kg. It is equipped with a rotating mirror in the center and two 5 megapixel cameras for capturing different textures. Also, the scanner has two LED indicators on the top of the scanner to show the real-time status (ON/OFF, ready to scan, scanning…), a power light and a WiFi/Autonomous mode light. Artec has mounted a carrying handle on the top. On the side there are slots for the external battery, an SD card and the ON/OFF button. The inlets for the power cord and the USB port have been positioned at the bottom of the scanner.
As for the accessories supplied, the scanner comes with power cables and two removable 14V 49Wh Li-Ion batteries and the relative charger. We also find a 3m USB cable to connect the scanner to a PC, a tripod adapter, a carrying case, two 32GB SD cards and an SD card backup system. The manufacturer also offers a tripod, magnetic checkerboard targets, reference spheres and a sturdy transport case as additional equipment, which is not included in the scope of delivery of the Ray.
At the heart of the Ray is LiDAR technology, a method that calculates the delay between the emission of a laser pulse and its reflection. This allows the distance between the scanner and the object to be scanned to be determined, which is digitized with a large number of points. A first class laser is used.
Specifically, the Ray emits a laser beam while the mirror rotates on itself to capture the reflection of the laser in a 270° vertical field. Once the point cloud is captured on the first plane, the base of the ray rotates one notch clockwise to capture a second vertical plane. The process is repeated at 360° until the point cloud is complete. This cloud is then post-processed by the scanner software to create the final mesh for the object.
2. Installation of Artec Ray 3D Scanner
To get the Ray up and running, the scanner must first be mounted on a suitable tripod (not supplied as standard) before the power supply can be connected to the base of the 3D scanner (the non-rotating part). You then have the option to connect the Ray to a PC either via the USB cable or via WiFi using the Artec Remote application. Note that in WiFi mode, the scan data is saved on the SD card. However, it is also possible to use the Artec Ray in stand-alone mode without using a PC. This mode can be used for simple models, but requires that the SD card is installed to store the data. The device is switched on easily using the on/off switch on the side panel.
The Ray’s removable batteries offer a maximum autonomy of 4 hours (2 hours per battery). However, if the user wants to operate the scanner with the power cord, Artec recommends leaving the battery in the scanner, otherwise the scan quality may be affected.
Once the Ray 3D scanner is powered on, the model or environment to be scanned needs to be prepared. As with all 3D scanners, the preparation phase is crucial to ensure optimal results. Because the Ray is an optical scanner, there may be difficulties when scanning reflective, dark, or transparent surfaces.
In some cases, the use of a matt spray is therefore recommended. The objects must not be moved during the scan, should be evenly illuminated and have a minimum of geometry or surface texture. Overall, putting the Ray into operation requires no special calibration and is relatively quick. The only steps that ultimately take time are the preparation of the scan and the parameter settings of the scanner, which have to be adjusted specifically for each scan.
As with other Artec scanners, it is possible to perform multiple scans from different positions so that an object or scene can be captured in its entirety, which greatly improves the quality of the scan. In order for this to be successful and for the various scans to be merged later, it is necessary to use checkerboard targets or reference spheres, which are not supplied with the scanner. While a combination of the two is ideal, bullets’ main benefit is that they’re visible from every angle, while targets offer better scan quality, according to Artec. Artec lists some tips for positioning chessboard targets and balls in the support section of the website.
3. The Artec Studio software
As with all Artec 3D scanners, the software is the Artec Studio software. Available in 15 languages, this software allows you to set up the scan in advance and finalize the point cloud obtained after the scan before finally getting the final mesh. Available point cloud formats include: BTX, PTX, XYZ and Mesh – OBJ, PLY, WRL, STL, AOP, ASC, Disney PTEX, E57, XYZRGB.
As mentioned in our previous product reviews, Artec Studio requires a relatively powerful computer. This should have a minimum performance of Intel Core i5, i7 or i9, 32 GB RAM and GPU with 2 GB VRAM in connection with Windows 7, 8 or 10 (x64). Another important note: Artec Studio software has an additional annual cost of €800 unless you opt for the €2,000 unlimited subscription. A 30-day trial version is also available.
The manufacturer has also developed a dedicated Android and iOS application for the Ray called Artec Remote. This makes it possible to connect the 3D scanner to WiFi, control it from a smartphone or tablet and save the data on the SD card. Before the scan, you can adjust various parameters such as the resolution, but also other parameters such as the sensitivity, the horizontal/vertical resolution and the texture to be scanned. In addition, a wide variety of information such as the status of the scanner, the battery level or the free memory space on the SD card is available on demand. In general, the manufacturer recommends using the Artec Studio software for complex projects or for beginners, while the Artec Remote application is recommended for advanced users or simple projects.
4. First scans
When preparing a new scan, it is possible to launch Preview mode from Artec Studio software or Artec Remote application and get a contrast shot of the scene. This preview allows you to specify a smaller scan area for the scanner, e.g. For example, you may want to scan only a portion of the scene, reducing scan time and the size of the final file.
Before you start scanning, you need to adjust various parameters such as density by degree, sensitivity, and texture. The density by degree corresponds to the number of points by degree. A choice is made between the desired resolution, scan time, post-processing of the point cloud and the size of the final file.
As for the sensitivity, the parameters are determined depending on the distance as well as the simplicity of the object or scene (dark, reflective surface, without geometry…). High Quality mode is recommended for simple scans less than 50m, while High Sensitivity mode is used for scans up to 110m to get better results with difficult surfaces. Finally, the texture should be selected if the color of the scene is to be captured.
Compared to a portable 3D scanner, the Ray offers the great advantage that it can work autonomously and that large parts can be scanned easily and quickly. While some objects require mastery of a handheld scanner, the Ray can actually automate scans of models, provided the object is scanned from different positions to capture it in its entirety. Logically, post-processing the data can be more time-consuming than with a handheld scanner, mainly because of the amount of data captured by the ray. In this article you can see the results of various scans that we have performed or that have been sent to us by the Artec team. For more information about the Artec Ray, visit the Artec website.
More tests from the 3Dnatives lab can be found here
– Range up to 110 m
– Scanning speed
– Quality of the scan
– Tripod, targets and bullets are not included
– MacOS/Linux compatibility
Artec 3D has innovated with its first laser pulse 3D scanner. The Ray 3D scanner is efficient and versatile. A device that can scan large parts in the shortest possible time and thus intended for professional users is.
The main advantages of the Ray include the use of Artec Studio, which has been in development for several years and allows intuitive preparation of scans and processing of scan files. The scanner also features a range of up to 110 m, the quality of the scans and the scanning speed. As with the manufacturer’s other products, however, you have to consider the price of €56,000, which includes the costs for the software and additional equipment such as the tripod.