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Ficus Tech Lab

A guide of tutorials on the software and technology in Ficus.


The NextEngine Scanner is a desktop 3D scanner that uses an array of lasers to scan objects at resolutions of 0.005 inches.

Workflow of creating the STL file:

1. To begin, create marks to align scans.  
2. Place the object on the Auto-positioner.  You may also use the PartGrabber to hold the object in place.
3. Launch the ScanStudio software.  The gear icon at the top of the scanner should light up and the positioner should make some test motions.  ScanStudio should report that “Your Scanner is Ready,” and the scan button to the left should be green.
4. Scan the object and align the scans.
5. Check the entire model.  Make sure the alignments are correct, trim out any extra pieces, and finalize the file.
6. Export to an STL file.  You may use other free software to polish your 3D STL file outside of NextEngine.
7. Request a 3D model by emailing it to

Library staff will not scan items or fix STL files for you.  You must scan the item, prep the STL file, and supply it to us for 3D printing.


Tips for a successful scan:

  • The light in Ficus should be turned on.
  • The scan disc sits too low.  Make sure to elevate it or adjust it higher with the arm.
  • If scanning an object that is smooth or a solid color, it helps to have indicators in key locations.
    Example: Use a sharpie to make a couple of colored dots on the model. This makes it much easier to align multiple scans. 
  • For most scans, the smaller file size option with 10-12 segments creates enough detail. 
  • The system does have a tendency to crash if you are doing manipulations within the software.  This is usually when aligning scans. However, it always has a back-up saved that you are able to recover. 
  • Files should be saved as an STL file.  You may use another software to do final touches before requesting a print.
  • A wiki with instructions on the various tools is available through the software.
  • Make sure you fill all holes in the file and buff the model so it's smooth.
  • Mouse controls
    • Right click to zoom
    • Left click to rotate
    • Left & Right held to pan
    • Center scroll to pan without selecting an area

Example of a 3D model created and printed in the library.