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3D Printing and Scanning: 3D Scanning

This guide give you information on 3D printing and scanning services provided by the Radcliffe Science Library, along with links to helpful 3D printing, scanning, and modelling resources and tips.

3D Printing Services

We have relaunched our 3D printing service.

Please note that our 3D printing service is only available to members of Oxford University. Unfortunately, we do not have the capacity to offer printing services to external organisations, businesses or private individuals.

What do I need to 3D Scan from Home

Can I create a 3D model without the need of expensive 3D scanning hardware? Yes! 

With advancements in camera sensors on smart phones and computer vision in photogrammetry software, it is now possible to create your own 3D model using your smartphone to capture the images and a computer to process them. 

What will I need?

Camera - any smartphone or DSLR camera with a good amount of megapixels.

A laptop or desktop computer with Meshroom Photogrammetry Software - For this example we will be using Meshroom as it is open source and free to use. (The only caveat is that it requires a NVIDIA CUDA-enabled GPU but there are many alternatives out there.)

Taking the Images

Camera Settings

If you have access to manual controls on your camera, then it is advised that you enable it for consistent aperture/shutter speed. To make sure as much of the object is in focus as possible, you will need to increase the aperture to at least 5/6. Take a test photo and if part of the object is still out of focus then increase the aperture again. If your camera has the option, shoot in RAW instead of a JPG.


You want to make sure your object is as evenly lit as possible. If you are 3D scanning something outside, you will want to shoot on an overcast day so you don't have any harsh shadows that create dark areas on the object. Try shoot in the day to increase the light as much as possible. If shooting inside then you will need a well lit room, or use some lamps to brighten up the room.

Taking the photos

You want to make sure you take enough photos of the object to be able to build up as much data as possible. As you move around the object it is recommend you take a photo every 10 degrees or so. You will need around 30-36 images per full rotation. If you want more detail you can do another pass of the object but change the angle you are look at the object, e.g. looking up, straight, looking down. Please see image below;

image showing camera positions

Processing the Images

1. Load up Meshroom
2. Save your working file
3. Drag and drop all your images into the 'Images' tab on the left hand side
4. Press the green 'Start' button at the top

Note: The coloured progress bar helps follow the progress of each step in the process:

  • green: has been computed
  • orange: is being computed
  • blue: is submitted for computation
  • red: is in error

5. Once the model is finish you can then check the model over with the following controls;

  • Click and Move to rotate around view centre
  • Double Click on geometry (point cloud or mesh) to define view centre
    • alternative: Ctrl+Click
  • Middle-Mouse Click to pan
    • alternative: Shift+Click
  • Wheel Up/Down to Zoom in/out
    • alternative: Alt+Right-Click and Move Left/Right

6. Once the process has finished, the files should have already been created. You will have a .obj file for the mesh and a .png file for the texture. To find these files right click on the 'Meshing' or 'Texturing' node and select 'Open Folder' to find them. It will all be in the same location you saved the file at the beginning.

7. If you want to clean up your model, check our '3D Modelling Software' page for more information about software you can use. Meshmixer is a good free one to start with.

8. Now you have the mesh and texture, you are ready to upload the model to your preferred platform to view online. You can upload it to the University platform called Cabinet or you can use Sketchfab . 


Example of RSL 3D Scans

real shell fossil and virtual shell fossil in 3D scan
3d scanned vase
3D scanned snake goddess statue
3D scanned snake goddess statue
3D scanned decorative box
3D scanned moth

Equipment Available

(Main Printer) An Original Prusa I3 MK3 + Multi Material Upgrade. The maximum build volume is 250 x 210 x 210 mm. Supported materials – PLA, PET-G & PVA.
Prusa 3D Printer with multiple materials


A MakerBot Replicator 2 (3D Printer). The maximum build volume is 285 x 153 x 155 mm. 

MakerBot Replicator 2

A MakerBot Digitizer (3D Scanner). The maximum scan volume is 203mm (Diameter) X 203mm (H) or 8x8IN.

MakerBot Digitizer

A 3D Sense Scanner (Handheld 3D Scanner). This scanner can scan objects larger than a 50 x 50 mm (2 x 2 in).

3D Sense Scanner



Contact Us

If you have any questions or would like to discuss using the service, feel free to contact us at