Hello Engineers!

Welcome to this new video on free apps for 3D scanning from smartphones. We all have a smartphone with a good quality camera and in this article we give you tips on how to use it, applied to the world of 3D Printing, to scan objects for your Online 3D Printing.

PolyD - 3D printing - free app for 3D scanning from smartphone

The Best Free Apps for 3D Scanning from Smartphone

Let's start with some vocabulary.

What is a 3D scan?

It is the digital representation of the object or person we want to scan in 3D. During the scanning process on a tablet or mobile phone, the application software captures the shape of an object (object, face or body of a person). The sensors on the individual device collect the shape, depth and colour data of the object being scanned in 3D and form the final 3D file. After the 3D scan has been converted into a 3D file, the result can be edited with a 3D modelling application. 

PolyD - 3D printing: 3D scanning of objects

Scanning can be done with a smartphone or tablet, if you want a more amateurish result, or with a device designed for scanning, in case you want a professional 3D printing result.

How to scan? 

The first step is to download one of the many scanning applications that already exist on the market.

More or less, depending on the application chosen, the 3D scanning procedure works as follows:

  • position the object or person to be scanned in such a way that it allows you to radiate the scanning object, i.e. to move smoothly around it.
  • start the scanning procedure as instructed by the chosen application. The sensors in your mobile phone's camera will collect all the necessary data.
  • when the 3D scan is complete, the application transforms the images into the 3D digital model. 

PolyD 3d printing : 3D scanning of people
3D scanning applications are easy to use and immediately provide guidance on how to proceed step by step; however, we at PolyD provide you with some useful tips for a successful 3D scan.

Tips for using Mobile 3D Scanning 

  • Make sure you use the right light, both inside and outside the object.
  • The light should be bright and evenly spread over the entire surface to be scanned, to avoid shadows and especially for night scans.
  • Always keep the same distance when scanning around the object, in order to obtain a uniform result.
  • When scanning take care to highlight the object from its background, so that the depth sensors of the 3D scan capture the volume of the object.
  • Transparent objects cannot be differentiated from their background, so they cannot be represented correctly by a 3D scan.

Smartphone 3D Scanning Software

We have selected some 3D scanning applications, all based on the photogrammetric method. Photogrammetry is a 3D scanning technology that creates 3D models from 2D photos. It works by taking overlapping photos of the object to be scanned in 3D from different angles; then the software generates the 3D model by combining all the images taken together. 

The APPs we have selected are:

  • Trnio
  • Scann3D
  • Qlone

PolyD - 3D printing 3D scanning Scann3D Qlone Trnio

It is one of the best 3D applications for mobile phones on the market. This 3D scanning application is only available for iPhone and offers two scanning modes, the "Object" mode and the "Scene" mode:

in "Object" mode, the user walks around an object and the app captures the images as you move in a circular fashion around the object;
in 'Scene' mode, the scanning is freeform, i.e. it is possible to scan outdoor scenes or large objects in 3D.
A special feature of this app is that it can also be used as a social network; you can create your own profile, a collection of your 3D scans, and the public can follow your account just as you can follow others'.


Is a mobile 3D scanning application developed with features close to real-time 3D scanning and generates results locally, not through a cloud platform. To use Qlone, you need to print a black and white map (similar to a QR code) and place the 3D scanning object on top of the printed map. Different maps can be printed depending on the size of the objects.

The key feature of Qlone is its merging capability. You can also share your 3D captures with friends on social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp and other apps. The App is free, but exports of the generated 3D scans, available in .STL, .PLY, .X3D formats, are chargeable.


If you are looking for 3D scanning apps for Android smartphones, Scann3d is for you. Even if you are a beginner, it is very easy to use as you get an instant reconstruction with the 3D model. It takes 20 to 30 overlapping photos around the scanned object and then the device automatically renders them. The 3D scan result is ready in a couple of minutes.

Once scanned, you're ready to print! Try our fast Online Quote and 3D Print with PolyD.

Happy 3D Printing!