How to turn your phone into a cheap, portable 3D scanner

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Everyone knows that 3D scanners – machines which can turn real objects into computer-generated models for design or 3D printing – are pricey.

This has lead makers to creating their own versions, and we found a sterling example.

What’s promised as a £20/$30/R430 3D print, this design is simply a hand-operated turntable. How does that translate into a 3D scanner? Well, it’s all thanks to the camera on your phone and some free software called ReMake which is offered by Autodesk.

All you need to do with ReMake is submit images taken of an object – from every angle – and the software will knit it together into a 3D mesh. The problem with this is getting consistent, high quality images, The better images you feed into it, the better model you’ll get out.

And that’s where this turntable comes in. All you need to do is drop your phone, with headphones attached, into the dock and away you go. Inside the mechanism of the gearing, there is a space for the in-line button that is attached to most phone headphone sets. All you need to do is set this button to activate the camera on your phone, turn the crank of the table, and it will capture 50 images for every full rotation of the table.

It is suggested that you use the cheap headphones which come with most phones.

From there you can do what you wish with your new model, including using it to 3D print a duplicate. It will need some cleaning up (Iron Man’s suit above doesn’t look to sleek anymore) but it’s worlds apart from having to create the model from scratch.

If you want to do this yourself, you’ll need to download the design from Pinshape and then follow the instructions on

We must applaud the creator of this, Dave Clark, as he not only came up with a clever invention, but also took the time to speak to us when we had questions about the project.


Clinton Matos

Clinton Matos

Clinton has been a programmer, engineering student, project manager, asset controller and even a farrier. Now he handles the maker side of