The best 3D scanner software in March 2024

Best 3D scanning software; a man scans a computer part
(Image credit: Getty Images / Ake Dynamic)

Your software is as important as hardware, which is why having the best 3D scanning software to process your images is important. While most 3D scanners come with their own 3d scan applications, this software may be limited, such as lacking all of the export options and file formats you'll need.

Some of the best 3D scanners don't come with their own software, so you'll need a good 3D scanning software to get the most from your device. In my experience the free 3D scanning software you can find is great, but if you're intending to create large, complex projects you may need to invest in a more costly 3D scanning app (most of these have a free trial). This guide covers desktop 3D scanning software, so I'm not looking at apps for iPhone for Android devices.

I would look for 3D scanning software that ideally can also be good at optimising the models and textures from the scan to create meshes that are both high in detail where needed but efficient in terms of file size and density to make them easy to manipulate and not take too much from the computer resources so that using the meshes becomes unworkable for the artist. 

Best 3D scanning software available now

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The 3D scanning software I've picked here is best used on a good desktop PC or laptop setup for 3D modelling and CG art. If in doubt, read our guides to the best laptops for 3D modelling and the best MacBook Pro alternatives. It's also worth checking out the best CAD software as you may find yourself wanting to tweak the data and models beyond what dedicated 3D scanning software offers.

Is 3D scanning easy?

3D scanning is relatively easy, the art comes from how you finesse the data it creates and ensure the model you have meets the needs of your project. 

Can I scan objects for 3D printing?

Yes, you can scan an object and use that scan, including colour and shape, to 3D print. The end result will replicate the colour and form of the object you scanned.

Can I create a 3D model without a scanner?

Yes, you can actually create a 3D model from photos. You need to take a number of photos from the same spot without moving, capturing photos on the same axis until you've grabbed the entire scene.

Can I 3D scan a person?

Yes, but not all 3D scanners are good for this kind of project. Good 3D scanners for creating models of people are handheld scanners, these can generate scans in seconds but require some patience. 

Mike Griggs

Mike Griggs is a veteran digital content creator and technical writer. For nearly 30 years, Mike has been creating digital artwork, animations and VR elements for multi-national companies and world-class museums. Mike has been a writer for 3D World Magazine and Creative Bloq for over 10 years, where he has shared his passion for demystifying the process of digital content creation.

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