Recently we received an interesting note from SolidSmack reader Rex Brodie about the Cubify Sense handheld scanner that he had recently purchased. According to Rex, the scanner was insanely difficult to use without a portable screen and a 12+ foot long USB cable…and that’s after assuming that your subject matter is ‘ideal’. There have been similar reports from other users as well…leading us to believe that perhaps the $399 Sense scanner might have jumped the gun with a release that doesn’t promise what it advertises…and doesn’t include a return option once it’s shipped. Well, video game modification mad man Ben Heckendorn (AKA Ben Heck) of the Ben Heck Show recently ran the Cubify Sense through his testing engine to see just how well it can perform…and found some conclusions that might lead to better performance. Ultimately, will his results prove that the scanner has more potential than what we’ve seen thus far?

Why is Ben Heck Holding One-Half of an Art Deco Birdwing?


According to 3D Systems, the Sense 3D Scanner is the first 3D scanner designed for the consumer and optimized for 3D printing. Additionally, they claim that it is the only 3D scanner to deliver precise instant physical photography, “so everyone can capture his or her scanable moments”. What makes the Sense unique from other 3D scanners on the market—like the MakerBot Digitizer—is that it offers a flexible scan size that allows a user to capture everything from a foam model of a new bicycle helmet to a full-body scan of a user actually wearing that foam model prototype. The instant physical photography allows for the data to be processed in seconds for instant mesh cleanup or for a 3D print file.

Let’s see how Ben Heck puts it to the test:

YouTube video

User experience-wise, the separation between the screen and the scanner tends to be the Sense’s weakest link, and the best results come from recreating the turntable effect as seen in the MakerBot Digitizer and other non-handheld 3D scanners. Despite this, even the scans that were performed by hand and sent directly to the 3D printer with no clean up came out well enough if precise detail isn’t what you’re after…essentially leading us to believe that this is more or less a handheld Microsoft Kinect.

If precision is what you’re after and you don’t have space to create a swing-arm turntable or if duct-taping the scanner onto your laptop doesn’t sound ideal, we might recommend waiting for the next iteration.


For those diehard EngineerVsDesigner fans out there, you might remember way back when Ben Heck was a guest on the show. To check out more of Ben Heck’s shows, be sure to check out the Ben Heck Show YouTube channel.

(Images via The Ben Heck Show)


Simon is a Brooklyn-based industrial designer and Managing Editor of EVD Media. When he finds the time to design, his focus is on helping startups develop branding and design solutions to realize their product design vision. In addition to his work at Nike and various other clients, he is the main reason anything gets done at EvD Media. He once wrestled an Alaskan alligator buzzard to the ground with his bare hands… to rescue Josh.