Can I do Scan To CAD myself?

The Short Answer

Yes, you can absolutely export your 3D scan data at no cost and do whatever you wish with it — including create your own CAD models (instead of using our integrated service). 

However, replicating the output of Scan To CAD on your own will require a significant amount of time, expertise, and specialized software.

The Long Answer

Replicating Scan To CAD on your own will usually require you to extract every desired dimension from the scan manually, and re-draw it in your CAD program of choice (or, in some special cases, trace it). You will certainly save time and miscommunications from missed measurements via scanning, but creating your 2D drawings or 3D models will be 100% manual.

To extract measurements, you can use the free measurement tool within the Canvas app or the 3D Web Viewer. You’ll simply tap or click any two points, copy this dimension, and then draw or model it in your program of choice. This can be time-consuming, repetitive, and error-prone, so we usually only see customers choose this if:

  • You only need a very small number of dimensions 
  • You have a tight budget and prefer to spend your own time vs. pay for Scan To CAD
  • The level of detail or format of your output is highly customized and unique  

Most architecture and design CAD programs are not able to read 3D scan data (be they point clouds or the 3D meshes output from Canvas) natively, or if they can, require special plugins. 

By contrast, many advanced 3D software programs common in gaming and VFX (such as Modo, Rhino, etc) are often able to read 3D scan data, and you can do lightweight modeling on top of the 3D mesh. Such software is usually more expensive and only used by 3D industry professionals (vs. architects, designers, and contractors), however, you could import the 3D mesh from Canvas and build the model using that mesh as a reference. 

Regardless of your workflow, the 3D scan data can be exported freely from the Canvas app as a .obj file. If you're using an iPad this can be done directly from the app using the share button. If you're using a LiDAR-enabled iPhone, you can access the scans manually by connecting the phone and transferring the files manually. If you need any assistance exporting your scan, please reach out to us at support@canvas.io.

You can read more about how to use your scan here: So, what do I get after I am done with my scan?

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