Scientists develop automated robotic arm to scan 3D objects


CATEGORY: 3D Software and Scanner BRAND: Fraunhofer IWU

The Fraunhofer IGD Institute in Darmstadt, Germany, has developed a mobile scanner to make it easier for museums to digitize their collections. The CultArm3D mobile scanner offers accurate 3D models of cultural heritage of various sizes at the push of a button.


The autonomous, colour-faithful 3D scanning system CultArm3D GT10 by Fraunhofer IGD automatically and safely generates high-resolution 3D scans -- perfect for use in museums. © Fraunhofer IGD


Creating a virtual representation of a collection not only brings benefits to museums and exhibits when visitors are faced with closed doors and must resort to virtual exploration: “3D models are tremendously important for research and can help improve our understanding of objects and their origins, as well as analyze their attributes. They also serve as the basis for visualization in virtual and augmented reality, and when 3D printing is used to create physical replicas in true color”, explains on the website of the German Institute Pedro Santos, department head of the Fraunhofer Institute for Graphics Research by IGD computer.


For years he and his team have worked with large format 3D scanning technology, especially in digitizing cultural objects. Since neither of these objects is like the other, this task is particularly challenging. Through many discussions with museums, it became clear that 3D digitizing entire collections demands the highest quality results coupled with a system that is easy to operate and mobile but still secure.


High resolution and color 3D scans

The CultArm3D robotic arm is the product of cooperation between the German research institute and the Danish camera manufacturer, Phase One. Equipped with a 100 megapixel Phase One iXG camera, Fraunhofer IGD autonomous scanning algorithm and specially ring lights Developed for optimal lighting, it automatically scans objects from all angles and generates detailed, high-quality 3D renderings in the blink of an eye. This is important because virtual models must be good enough for scientists to analyze them as they see fit and compare them with models of other objects, which fragile originals would only allow or could withstand under certain circumstances.


The Fraunhofer IGD developers paid particular attention to objects with challenging surface geometries, such as shiny or reflective objects made of gold or bronze with complex occlusions. All established standards and international recommendations were followed regarding not only system calibration (based on ISO / TS 19264 and VDI / VDE 2634), but also object metadata and digital model data (based on Europeana Data Model, 3D Task Force and CARARE), which guarantees reproducible high quality in terms of geometry, textures and color, a first on the market.


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