Affordable 3D handheld scanner to bring fast replication to the masses

A handheld 3D scanner that is dramatically cheaper than many of its rivals is set for release, enabling users to quickly create stl files for 3D printing, or convert them for use in VR.

The 198g scanner, which is from emerging 3D printer company XYZprinting, is set to go on sale at the start of November for a puny £149, making it a serious option for Christmas gifts.

It is designed to be very simple and quick to use, with the holder moving the scanner around the object they are capturing, and the scan appearing in real-time on an attached computer. They are even able to stop and start a scan to get a complete capture.

We witnessed it capture a complete head scan in about 90 seconds, which was then ready to be 3D printed using a simple interface.

At present it can only capture scans of up to 60cm x 60cm x 40cm, but that’s set to change in February, when an update to Intel RealSense – the scanner’s underlying tech – will allow both new already purchased models to complete full body scans.

3d-scanner-xyz

The scanner is undoubtedly going to be a hit with 3D printing enthusiasts, but it could also help to bring more people into the 3D printing fold.

XYZ’s printers are designed to be affordable and easy to use, and combined with the scanner, could be an appealing option for families looking for semi-educational gifts come the holidays.

The scanner does need to be tethered to a computer to work, but could easily be taken out alongside a laptop, enabling users to 3D scan objects in the wild.

Parents could use the tech to add some fun to a family outing, and creative types could use it to capture objects to later edit, adjust and augment.

A volunteer is scanned using the device at the IFA International Consumer Electronics show in Berlin. Images courtesy of XYZprinting.

A volunteer is scanned using the device at the IFA International Consumer Electronics show in Berlin. Images courtesy of XYZprinting.

There is also some serious potential for it in the virtual reality field. While the scanner is primarily designed for 3D printing, the stl file it produces can be converted into an appropriate 3D file for use in VR environments.

Given that VR is set to skyrocket next year when the major headsets are released to consumers, there is going to be an increasing demand both for 3D object files and the means of quickly creating them.

While many of the 3D objects and environments headed for VR are undoubtedly going to be painstakingly created, there is definitely going to be a big market for 3D models that can be quickly generated.

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Juno mission: Jupiter’s magnetic field is even weirder than expected

It has long been known that Jupiter has the most intense magnetic field in the solar system, but the first round of results from NASA’s Juno mission has revealed that it is far stronger and more misshapen than scientists predicted.

Announcing the findings of the spacecraft’s first data-collection pass, which saw Juno fly within 2,600 miles (4,200km) of Jupiter on 27th August 2016, NASA mission scientists revealed that the planet far surpassed the expectations of models.

Measuring Jupiter’s magnetosphere using Juno’s magnetometer investigation (MAG) tool, they found that the planet’s magnetic field is even stronger than models predicted, at 7.766 Gaus: 10 times stronger than the strongest fields on Earth.

Furthermore, it is far more irregular in shape, prompting a re-think about how it could be generated.

“Juno is giving us a view of the magnetic field close to Jupiter that we’ve never had before,” said Jack Connerney, Juno deputy principal investigator and magnetic field investigation lead at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

“Already we see that the magnetic field looks lumpy: it is stronger in some places and weaker in others.

An enhanced colour view of Jupiter’s south pole. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gabriel Fiset. Featured image courtesy of NASA/SWRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt/Seán Doran

At present, scientists cannot say for certain why or how Jupiter’s magnetic field is so peculiar, but they do already have a theory: that the field is not generated from the planet’s core, but in a layer closer to its surface.

“This uneven distribution suggests that the field might be generated by dynamo action closer to the surface, above the layer of metallic hydrogen,” said Connerney.

However, with many more flybys planned, the scientists will considerable opportunities to learn more about this phenomenon, and more accurately pinpoint the bizarre magnetic field’s cause.

“Every flyby we execute gets us closer to determining where and how Jupiter’s dynamo works,” added Connerney.

With each flyby, which occurs every 53 days, the scientists are treated to a 6MB haul of newly collected information, which takes around 1.5 days to transfer back to Earth.

“Every 53 days, we go screaming by Jupiter, get doused by a fire hose of Jovian science, and there is always something new,” said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.

A newly released image of Jupiter’s stormy south pole. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Betsy Asher Hall/Gervasio Robles

An unexpected magnetic field was not the only surprise from the first data haul. The mission also provided a first-look at Jupiter’s poles, which are unexpectedly covered in swirling, densely clustered storms the size of Earth.

“We’re puzzled as to how they could be formed, how stable the configuration is, and why Jupiter’s north pole doesn’t look like the south pole,” said Bolton. “We’re questioning whether this is a dynamic system, and are we seeing just one stage, and over the next year, we’re going to watch it disappear, or is this a stable configuration and these storms are circulating around one another?”

Juno’s Microwave Radiometer (MWR) also threw up some surprises, with some of the planet’s belts appearing to penetrate down to its surface, while others seem to evolve into other structures. It’s a curious phenomenon, and one which the scientists hope to better explore on future flybys.

“On our next flyby on July 11, we will fly directly over one of the most iconic features in the entire solar system – one that every school kid knows – Jupiter’s Great Red Spot,” said Bolton.

“If anybody is going to get to the bottom of what is going on below those mammoth swirling crimson cloud tops, it’s Juno and her cloud-piercing science instruments.”