Digitizer Education | Part 2: Placement, Calibration, and Lighting

Now that you’ve gotten an overview in part 1, you’re ready to use your MakerBot® Digitizer™ Desktop 3D Scanner to jumpstart the modeling and prototyping process, and have fun experimenting. Here are some tips and tricks to help you get the best possible results.

Find a Solid Spot
Place your MakerBot Digitizer on a flat, stable work surface, and make sure no part of it extends over the surface’s edge.

  • Set up your Makerbot Digitizer facing the nearest wall. The darker the wall, the better.
  • Ideally the lasers should point toward the wall while avoiding any windows or other bright light sources. Bright light or reflective things shining in the camera can interfere with your scan, causing noise and halos.


Digitizer Ideal Placement

Ideal placement of the MakerBot Digitizer

Calibration is Crucial for Good Results
Calibration ensures the position of the turntable and lasers are recorded accurately so your MakerBot Digitizer can produce the best possible scans.

  • Calibrate your MakerBot Digitizer in normal-to-bright indoor lighting.
  • Avoid direct overhead light though (as seen below). The light source should come from behind your scanner so it’s not shining right into the camera.


Bad Scan Background

Example of too much overhead light in the camera


  • If you must calibrate in a dark space, illuminate the calibration tool with a lamp or flashlight behind your scanner so it’s not pointing into the camera.

For detailed instructions on the calibration routine, please read pp. 31–33 of the MakerBot Digitizer User Manual.

Lighting for Better 3D Scans
To get the best results, scan objects in the same lighting conditions you calibrated in, or anything darker—including total darkness.

  • Scanning in low light is best, but you don’t need to turn the lights out. However, if you’re having trouble scanning something with the Dark setting, try shutting off the lights completely. The only time you must have light is during the calibration routine.
  • In order to capture the most detail of your object, the Preview screen should be as black as possible when the filter is on, as seen below.


Ideal Preview Scan

A good Preview screen view of a 3D scan


  • Recalibrate your MakerBot Digitizer if you’re not happy with its scan results. During recalibration, you want to be able to see the entire checkerboard pattern on the Calibration Tool on your screen, as seen below.



Optimal view during recalibration


Finally, here are a few cool tricks we discovered:

  • If you need to capture more detail, set the option to Dark mode—even if the object is light colored. Be prepared for your scan to have some extra noise though.
  • Hang black felt on wall facing your MakerBot Digitizer to darken the wall’s surface. That way any light in the room won’t bounce off the black background and cause bright spots the camera might think are part of the laser line.
  • Place an open umbrella behind your MakerBot Digitizer (i.e. not in the direction of its lasers) to improve scan results. Don’t do this during calibration though.


We hope these tips make your experience with the MakerBot Digitizer even better. See you soon, and happy scanning!