Can a 3D scanner capture minute detail of a watch case? Can 3D printer render it ?

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Jensen Breck
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Can a 3D scanner capture minute detail of a watch case? Can 3D printer render it ?

Post by Jensen Breck » Sat Sep 09, 2017 8:11 am


I have some designs in mind for both a ring and a watch. I own a ring and watch that are similar to what I have in mind. My though is to have the existing objects 3D scanned. For the watch, it would only be the case, I would use the existing band and mechanism and glass on the new 3D printed case. Once scanned, I will draw up my changes and have a 3D designer make the changes to the 3D model, then send them out to be 3D printed in sliver.

That is my idea, but I have no idea how realistic it is. Can a typical 3D scanner capture the minute details of a watch case and can the 3d silver printer render it precisely enough to ensure that the mechanism and glass will fit properly?? Does 3D printed silver have the smooth shiny finish desirable for a ring or watch? Would this be extremely expensive?
I worked with Sculpteo once and the price was reasonable but that project did not involve scanning existing objects, did not require precision and it was not printed in metal.

I didn't find the right solution from the internet.
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Re: Can a 3D scanner capture minute detail of a watch case? Can 3D printer render it ?

Post by FallGuy » Tue Sep 12, 2017 10:41 pm

It all comes down to the precision and resolution of the scanner being used. We use NextEngine, a small, low end industrial scanner here in the office, that runs about $3000. It is capable of detecting details as small as 0.1mm. When I show people in the office how to use it and we scan a coffee cup as a test object, it is capable of detecting the extra thickness of the painted on logo of the cup. But there are also much more precise (and expensive!) scanners that can detect even finer details or scan much larger objects.

There also exist now several small entry level and DIY scanners that have pretty amazing capabilities as well. One such scanner that is pretty amazing is the Atlas scanner for about $240, . Considering the price it is a very good scanner for a home shop hobbyist.

But even after you scan the object, you will have some cleanup of the model to fix surface imperfections and make it closer to what the original was. And then you will have to convert the scan data to a form that a good modeling package (Solidworks, Fusion, etc) can understand so you could then modify it in the way that you want.

One you have that, then you can print your model, but again, your overall quality will be limited to the precision of the printing process you choose. With the Up printer this would be controlled by the layer thickness and nozzle diameter. But you could go to a professional print service and get a much higher resolution print, just at a higher cost.

To be honest though, unless you were going to scan the ring or watch to create a model that would be used to replace a part or component of the original object, I think I would start from the ground up and just model the object in whatever 3D design package you are want. With care and attention to detail, a good designer would be able to quickly model an object that would be indistinguishable from the original and it would make it somewhat easier to create the model to capture the design intent of the features you would like to change or modify.

I hope this helps.


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