The Best Handheld 3D Scanners [2022]

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The best handheld 3D scanners combine efficiency, high-quality results, and speed while maintaining portability as a key feature.

Unlike a few years back, you’d be surprised at just how affordable they’ve become, opening up a world of design, manufacturing, and prototyping possibilities to businesses from a range of industries.

But, spoiled for choice and with plenty of perplexing jargon to wade through, finding the best handheld 3D scanner for your business or project can be quite the undertaking.

To help, we’ve tried and tested, compared and contrasted, loved and hated, all to bring you a comprehensive list of the very best options on the market today.

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How Do Handheld 3D Scanners Work?

Stripped down to its most basic function, a handheld 3D scanner captures data from a real-world object, subject, or environment and then translates it into an accurate digital model. 

The captured data consists of an object’s shape, texture, surface, and position within a defined visual field, which is then processed into a mesh or point cloud. The collected data is then imported to 3D modeling CAD software for editing and manipulation to suit a vast range of applications.

Different 3D scanning technologies exist.

In the case of handheld 3D scanners, there are two dominant ones. These are laser triangulation and structured light, both roughly based on the core concept of triangulation using an infrared laser or a pattern of light projected onto an object.

The 3D scanner measures how the object deforms, distorts, and reflects the trajectory of the light emitted by the laser or light pattern to determine the distance to an integrated camera and then creates a 3D model.

As the name implies, 3D scanners are untethered, handheld devices that require the user to scan an object from multiple angles to capture an accurate 3D model.

That stands in contrast to hands-off stationary 3D scanners equipped with fixed sensors, cameras, and, often, a turntable to rotate the object automatically.

Benefits of Handheld 3D Scanners

Portability and Versatility – Handheld 3D scanners can easily be moved around a busy workshop, manufacturing plant, design studio, or even used outdoors, or to scan tough-to-reach objects located in tight spaces.

Additionally, they can scan much larger objects than most stationary scanners.

User-Friendly – By design, handheld 3D scanners are much easier to use. Using the scanner generally comes down to pressing a trigger and moving about an object with minimal setup or prep work.

Some handheld 3D scanners emit visible light onto an object to give users a clear sense of what they are scanning at any given moment, which is helpful to capture a complete scan of an object or space.

Fast Scanning and Processing – Highly accurate, handheld 3D scanners offer solid scans the first time around, saving time and effort. Additionally, by scanning segments of an object at once instead of a specific point, the scanning process is speedy, crucial for fast-paced professional settings.

Affordability – Cost is always relative, but handheld 3D scanners require a much smaller investment, making them accessible to smaller businesses limited by a tight budget compared to industrial-grade stationary scanners.

Best Handheld 3D Scanners

Creality CR-Scan 01

The Creality CR-Scan 01 handheld scanner on a gradient background

Priced at around $750, the Creality CR-Scan 01 lowers the threshold of entry to 3D scanning without sacrificing too much in the way of scan quality.

Better yet, it melds together a handheld and turntable mode to scan objects of all sizes.

Pushing a respectable 0.5 mm resolution and equally good 0.1 mm accuracy, the Creality CR-Scan 01 doesn’t err too far from what we’ve come to expect from 3D scanners twice its price.

It’s fast, too, with a 536 x 378 mm max scan area that allows users to capture large portions of a scan in one go at a distance of 400-900 mm. It also weaves in sleek 24-bit high-fidelity color mapping to capture all the rich color detail of an object.

Usability is also a significant feature here.

The pick-and-scan design won’t overwhelm first-timers or hamper productivity in a professional setting.


Scantech 3D iReal 2E

  • Price: $3,980 – Check here on iReal 3D
  • Technology: Infrared VCSEL structured light
  • Field of View: 580 x 550 mm
  • Effective Scanning Distance: 280 – 1000 mm
  • Accuracy: 0.1 mm
  • Resolution: 0.2 mm
  • Speed/Frame Rate: 1,500,000 points/s
Scantech iReal 2E handheld 3D scanner with a wide field of view and good for low light conditions

Scantech 3D iReal 2E is a professional-grade color 3D scanner designed for human body scanning, as well as for scanning both medium and large-sized objects larger than 30cm. 

This ability to work without sticking markers is advantageous when scanning the human body and items with rich geometric/textural features (such as cultural relics, etc).

While using the iReal 2E, if you’re ever uncomfortable from the direct glare while having your body scanned, you can easily turn on the LED-OFF mode. This option uses invisible light and makes the scanning experience more user-friendly for the scanned person.

Adopting infrared structured light technology, the scanner’s adaptability is improved for scanning more materials under difficult conditions. Not only can it scan darker and more black materials, but also has better adaptability to the light environment to directly capture 3D scan data whether in a dark room or in the outdoors in sunlight.


Its large field of view and depth of field make the iReal 2E easy to use. Even if you haven’t used a 3D scanner before, you can get started with it quickly and easily.

Companies in the art and design, medical rehabilitation, cultural relics and archaeology, VR/AR, digital humans, and reverse engineering sectors have adopted the iReal 2E already. Overall, it’s a good mid-range handheld 3D scanner for low light conditions and with a wide field of view.


EinScan H

  • Price: $5,000 — Check here on Dynamism
  • Accuracy: 0.05 mm
  • Resolution: 0.25 mm
  • Max Scan Volume: 420 x 440
  • Technology: Hybrid structured light and infrared
  • Speed/Frame Rate: 1,200,000 points/s, 20 FPS
The EinScan H 3D scanner on a gradient background

A strong pick for a vast range of applications, the EinScan H is a mid-range professional handheld 3D scanner that employs an infrared and structured light hybrid light source.

The infrared is tuned to capture intricate details, including tricky reflections and darker colors, and the structured light for general rapid scanning.

With a 0.25 mm resolution and 0.05 mm accuracy, the EinScan H can capture fine details such as hair on a human subject and even color, thanks to full-color reproduction.

Weighing a feathery 703g and capable of capturing a dizzying 1,200,00 points per second in a 420 x 440 scan area, it makes easy work of scanning large objects.

While we’d expect all this to cost a hefty sum, EinScan has done well to inject substantial value here with an affordable $5,000 price tag. A solid choice for forensics, art conservation, and health care applications.


EinScan Pro HD

  • Price: $8,000-$9,000 — Check here on Dynamism
  • Accuracy: 0.045 mm
  • Resolution: 0.2 mm
  • Max Scan Volume: 310 x 204 mm
  • Technology: Structured light
  • Speed/Frame Rate: 3,000,000 points/s, 30 FPS
The EinScan Pro HD scanner on a gradient background

Moving up yet another rung in the EinScan scanner range, we have the EinScan Pro HD.

The focus here is on delivering high-quality scans suitable for 3D modeling, emphasizing fine details that match the quality of stationary scanners.

The scanner achieves this with a sharp 0.045 mm accuracy sided by a 0.2 mm resolution, all for under $10,000. Compact and relatively light, the EinScan Pro HD captures up to 310 x 204 mm in one go at a speed of 3,000,000 points/s.

The EinScan Pro HD also stands out for its ability to accurately capture shaded, black, and metal surfaces. We see it as a potent tool for automotive, engineering, and manufacturing.


EinScan HX

  • Price: $10,000-$12,000 — Check here on Dynamism
  • Accuracy: 0.04 mm
  • Resolution: 0.05 mm
  • Max Scan Volume: 420 x 440 mm
  • Technology: Hybrid structured light and infrared
  • Speed/Frame Rate: 1,200,000 points/s, 20 FPS/480,000 points/s, 55 FPS
The EinScan HX handheld 3D scanner on a gradient background

Billed as an enhanced counterpart to the EinScan H, the EinScan HX borrows the same hybrid scanning tech but dials in higher overall accuracy and scan quality.

Accuracy jumps to 0.04 mm, while resolution shifts to 0.05 mm, ideal for demanding industrial applications with a low margin of error, such as quality control and reverse engineering.

Though an industrial-grade product with a steep $10,000+ price tag, the EinScan H requires very little expertise with a user-friendly design.

It has a 420 x 440 mm scan area and a scan speed of up to 1,200,000 points in rapid scan mode, perfect specifications for capturing all types of objects within minutes.


Peel 3D Peel 2

  • Price: $8,000
  • Accuracy: 0.1 mm
  • Resolution: 0.5 mm
  • Max Scan Volume: 380 x 380 mm
  • Technology: Structured
  • Speed/Frame Rate: 550,000 points/s
The Peel 3D Peel 2 scanner in black and white

Eschewing the typical two-camera scanner design, the Peel 3D Peel 2 drafts in a third to capture geometry and color data.

The Peel 2 shines when scanning larger objects, notably color-rich art pieces, fabrics, and bodies.

Compact, affordable, and easy to use, the Peel 3D Peel 2’s 0.1 mm accuracy, 0.5 mm resolution, and decent 380 x 380 mm scan area bring it all together.

These specifications aren’t particularly suited to small objects or applications requiring high-detail, low-tolerance scans. But, the color texturing is nothing short of impressive for the price.

For us, applications that benefit most from the Peel 2 capabilities include game development, art, conservation, and interior design.


Creaform HandySCAN Silver 307

  • Price: $18,000-$20,000
  • Accuracy: 0.040 mm
  • Resolution: 0.1 mm
  • Max Scan Volume: 275 x 250 mm
  • Technology: Laser Triangulation
  • Speed/Frame Rate: 480,000 points/s
The Creaform HandySCAN Silver 307 scanner shown from the front and back

The Creaform HandySCAN Silver 307 is a metrology-grade handheld 3D scanner designed to produce accurate and repeatable scans of even the most complex surfaces for feature-rich and precise 3D models.

Creaform uses patented technology to ensure accurate scans even while the scanner and object are in motion.

It boasts 0.040 mm accuracy, 0.1 mm resolution and can scan up to 480,000 points/s.

The tight 275 x 250 mm scan area lets down the offering a tad, but with so many other positives, it’s hard to fault the ever so slightly longer scan time for larger objects.

Although expensive, the Creaform HandScan Silver 307 is user-friendly and produces stellar results, whatever the object’s characteristics, whether that’s color, size, or material.


Artec Eva

  • Price: $16,000-$17,000
  • Accuracy: 0.1 mm
  • Resolution: 0.2 mm
  • Max Scan Volume: 536 × 371 mm
  • Technology: Structured
  • Speed/Frame Rate: 18,000,000 points/s, 16 FPS
The Artec Eva handheld scanner

With a solid reputation as one of the top 3D scanner manufacturers, Artec hits our list with the industrial-grade Artec Eva.

A workhorse, the Artec Eva is all about marrying versatility to portability, suitable for a range of applications such as forensics, aerospace, CGI, and prosthetics.

It can competently and quickly create highly-accurate, texture-rich 3D models of anything from mechanical parts to engines to human faces, hitting its stride scanning medium-sized objects, including those with dark and shiny surfaces.

As far as specifications go, the Artec Eva delivers a 0.1 mm accuracy, 0.2 mm resolution, 536 × 371 mm scan area, and a massive 18,000,000 points/s.

In other words, a highly accurate and fast handheld 3D scanner.


Buyers’ Guide – Things to Consider

Resolution

Much like resolution in monitors and TVs, 3D scanner resolution refers to the overall visual quality, smoothness, and detail of a scan determined by the distance between data and mesh points.

Resolution is generally expressed in mm (and sometimes in points per scan), ranging from 0.25-0.5 mm to 0.1 mm on handheld 3D scanners.

For general scanning of larger objects, works of art, or faces, 0.5 mm offers a solid resolution, while lower resolutions are better suited to low-tolerance applications such as quality control and reverse engineering.

Accuracy

Accuracy refers to a 3D scanner’s ability to match the exact measurements of an object.

Handheld 3D scanners commonly range from an accuracy of around 100-200 microns down to as low as 20 microns.

In general, the higher the accuracy, the better the quality of the scan, so for low tolerance applications where even small divergences are problematic, we recommend higher accuracy scanners.

Speed

Scanning speed refers to how long it takes a 3D scanner to capture an object.

The most common measurements are points per second, numbered in the millions for the best handheld 3D scanners, along with frames per second, ranging anywhere from 8 to 55 FPS.

Budget

Entry-level scanners cost anywhere from $400 to $1000, but as expected, the trade-off is a drop in overall performance and scan quality.

Professional and industrial-grade scanners push prices upwards of $5,000, swelling to $100,000 or more for the most performance-oriented options brimming with bleeding edge technology.

Use Case

It’s worth thinking about your use case and how you plan to use a 3D scanner.

For amateurs or businesses requiring only the occasional scan, we’d strongly consider 3D scanning services instead, as these will generally work out cheaper than buying a handheld 3D scanner outright.

If daily use is on the cards, a handheld 3D scanner is a wise investment that rapidly pays for itself.

Handheld 3D Scanner Applications

Medical: disability aids, prosthetics, plastic surgery, body scans for training, orthopedics.

Art and Design: product development, design, CGI assets for film and TV.

Hobbyist 3D Printing: models, miniatures, toys, functional parts, household items.

Virtual Reality and Game Design: scan real-world environments, objects, and bodies for animation, modeling, virtual reality, and augmented reality.

Engineering: infrastructure maintenance/building/monitoring, quality control, prototyping, data analysis, design, and modeling.

Reverse Engineering and Repairs: aerospace, aviation, naval, restoration, and design.

Archeology and Conservation: scanning of artifacts and remains for heritage conservation and research.

Architecture: surveying, design, and reverse engineering of older buildings for restoration. 

Forensics: crime scene documentation, bullet trajectories, reconstructions, crashes, bloodstains, shoe prints.

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