Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type



Santa Clara : Santa Clara University, 2020.


Electrical Engineering

First Advisor

Andrew Wolfe


This project entails designing, prototyping, and testing a 3D scanner. The device that we are building uses LIDAR to take position data of a 3D object, then analyze and encode the sensor data as an STL file that can later be 3D printed out at the same resolution. We aim to build an affordable, high-performance 3D scanner that takes advantage of the falling cost of LIDAR in order to bring 3D scanning capabilities to individuals, the maker community, and even small businesses.

We begin this process by choosing a sensor, the YDLIDAR X4, as our primary method of taking position data of the object. We take calibration data with this sensor to ensure that it is suitable to our needs. In doing so, we find that we may need to incorporate certain statistical methods, like dithering, in order to increase the accuracy of the system. We determine an effective layout for scanning all sides of an object, overcoming obstacles like scanning objects with concave surfaces. The physical system is mocked up in Solidworks, enabling us to 3D print, laser cut, and buy all the necessary components of the system. The system is constructed while an interactive user interface is created. We develop an algorithm for turning individual data points from the raw data of the X4 sensor into 3D printable STL files, and interface it with a program that controls the motors to take consistent, comprehensive scans of any object on the platform.

In the end, we find two limitations of LIDAR in 3D scanning systems - high-gloss black surfaces and certain steep angles cannot be scanned adequately by LIDAR. However, once our system is constructed, we are able to take 3D scans of common objects, and even 3D print one of our scanned objects. The scan is compared to the original object, and the dimensional accuracy of our scanner is verified.