How do I choose the right 3D scanner for my O&P practice?

Cédric Gilissen
November 30, 2020

When deciding on which 3D scanner you want to use in your practice, we first need to take a step back and inspect the specific application for which you want to use a 3D scanner. For each application, we need to define what specifications and features of the 3D scanner are most important.

It would help if you ask yourself the following questions; what level of precision is required to deliver a fitting orthotic? How long can the patient keep the desired scanning position? In other words, how fast does the scanner need to be? Do I want a scanner that excels in one application, or do I want a scanner that works for most applications?

Pieter Debusschere from Ortho-Kin using the Spentys scanning application.

For instance, whether the patient can stay still while scanning needs to be taken into consideration when deciding on which scanner to use. For babies or patients with chronic movement disorders such as dystonia, infrared structured light-based 3D scanners are often not usable. In this case, 3D scanners based on photogrammetry or white structured light scanning are recommended to perform the 3D scan. These types of 3D scanners can detect movement, and take into account changing positions of the patient’s body part to create an accurate 3D scan.

Do you feel a bit lost after reading this sentence? Let me quickly explain the three main techniques to digitally reconstruct an object (in our case a body part) in 3D:

  1. Photogrammetry: pictures of the scanned object are taken from different angles, and the model is created by software that stitches together all images to produce 3D depth.
  2. Structured light scanning: the projected light pattern is distorted by the surface of the shape of the body part and is tracked by the camera system.
  3. Laser pulse scanning: generates a 3D mesh of a targeted object by timing how long it takes for a laser beam to hit the object, reflect and return to the sensor.

Although photogrammetry is very accessible (you can download some decent apps on your phone and use the built-in camera), structured light scanners and laser pulse scanners are more appropriate for O&P applications. There are many benefits to structured light 3D scanning for O&P applications, such as the fast scanning time (as fast as 2sec/ scan), the scanning area (as large as 120cm), and high accuracy (as high as 10 microns). However, in some applications (like insoles) this method might not be accurate enough. In that case, laser pulse scanning is advised. It has a high precision level (up to 1million points scanned per second) and is less sensitive to lighting conditions.

The most important requirements to take into account when choosing a 3D scanner

In our latest expert guide about 3D scanning, you can find a more in-depth comparison of the most popular scanners. When deciding on what scanner to use these are the most important requirements to take into account:

1.       Ease-of-Use

The 3D scanner must be an easy device to use, along with easy preparation, scanning, and post-scanning process. The scanning procedure should also be comfortable for the patient, especially when treating patients from the younger and older generations.

2.       Versatility

It’s a good idea to opt for a 3D scanner that can be used to scan both small and large body parts.

3.       Accuracy

The quality of the scan must be good enough to develop an accurate 3D model. For most O&P applications a 0.5- 1mm accuracy is advised as a benchmark. 

4.       Portability

Handheld scanners are generally more practical for scanning certain parts of the body. Some scanners are small and don’t need a fixed set-up, making it easy to take them with you when you need to visit patients on location.

Once the scan is taken, it's ready to be uploaded to your platform of choice. Do you already have the right 3D scanner in your practice? You can integrate any kind of scanner with the Spentys platform to keep your orthotics organised and facilitate an efficient orthotics production process.

How to get started today with 3D scanning in your practice?

If you don’t have the right scanner yet, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We have created our own AI-based scanning technology that you can use to take accurate measurements in most applications. Our scanning software uses an iPad and a structured light sensor to capture the geometries of the patient’s body part. The data of the scan is instantly reviewed by our AI-based software that enhances the scan and eliminates irregularities. Our scanning software is portable, integrated and easy-to-use.



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