Meaning of 3D

Acronyms Technology

Defined on abbreviationfinder, 3D is the abbreviation for three-dimensional and the name for the spatial representation of bodies. A 3D representation usually consists of the spatial dimensions of length, width and height.

  • 3D films give the impression that the action is not taking place on the screen, but directly in the room.
  • 3D glasses filter the images for the respective eye.
  • There are also people who cannot perceive a third dimension at all.

Within reach – three-dimensional vision

3D films give the impression that the action is not taking place on the screen, but directly in the room. The viewer has the feeling, for example, as if film characters or objects are coming straight at them and as if they could reach for them.

In order to achieve this optical effect, 3D technology uses the fact that the two human eyes see different images, which are first put together by the brain to form an image: one eye can only perceive height and width on its own. Since both eyes are a little apart, they perceive what is happening from different perspectives. The brain “calculates” the third, missing dimension from the two images and combines them into an overall picture.

3D glasses filter the images for the respective eye

Even with 3D films, the eyes see different images at the same time. That is why special cameras with two lenses next to each other are used during film production. The cameras record a scene – just as a human would perceive it – from two different perspectives simultaneously. If the viewer of a 3D film puts on appropriate 3D glasses, the wrong perspective is filtered out. This can be done, for example, with color filter glasses or with shutter glasses. The 3D technology is also possible on the smartphone , but also only with special glasses.

Not everyone can perceive 3D

However, there are also people who cannot perceive a third dimension at all. This happens when, for example, the brain cannot process the two images correctly and combine them into a three-dimensional image.



A 3D scanner captures three-dimensional objects. The result of the scan is not a flat image, but a three-dimensional model that, for example, a 3D printer can reproduce. The three-dimensional structure of an object can be captured using different techniques. 3D scanners are even available as a mobile phone app.

  • The variety of 3D scanners is large and ranges from static models to freely movable hand scanners.
  • The ranges of 3D scanners are also very different, ranging from a few centimeters to several hundred meters.
  • 3D scanners are used, among other things, in the medical field, industry and construction.

How does a 3D scanner work?

There are different ways of working with 3D scanners and thus different techniques for creating a model of an object or a person.

The handling

Mobile hand scanners have to be guided around the object to be scanned by a person. The scanner perceives the contours of the body from different angles and creates a 3D scan from it.

Other 3D scanners have a fixed structure. With them, the object for scanning is usually placed on a platform provided for this purpose. Then either the platform rotates so that the scanner can scan all pages; or the scanner is movably attached and independently circles the object.

The scan

A frequently used technique is the laser stripe technique, also called stripe projection or stripe light scanning. A striped pattern is projected onto the object. The 3D scanner can then use the curvature of the lines and the change in the distances to determine what the three-dimensional shape of the object looks like.

Other techniques work with infrared, among others. The 3D scan runs without projections of light, which could interfere in some areas of application.

The performance

How powerful a 3D scanner is can vary widely. While some models alone scan the contours of a body, others can capture the surface structure in detail or even recognize colors. Depending on how high the resolution of the scan is and what technology is used, the 3D scan can be made and displayed almost in real time or it takes a few minutes.

The limits

Objects with complex and angled shapes are a challenge for 3D scanners. Because the 3D scanner basically only scans the surface – but cannot see into an object or through parts. However, there are already various approaches to capture such difficult-to-scan areas.

The areas of application of 3D scanners

For some people, making 3D scans and then printing them with a 3D printer is a hobby. But 3D scanners are already being used in numerous professional areas:

  • Science and education: digitizing works of art and making replicas
  • Forensics: capturing a crime scene
  • Industry: Manufacture of spare parts
  • Medicine: Manufacture of implants in dentistry
  • Construction: surveying, planning and control of construction projects
  • Entertainment industry: Capturing realistic motion sequences for animations

When is which 3D scanner used?

The individual 3D scanners differ greatly, for example in terms of the technology used and the file formats in which the scans are saved. When choosing the scanner, the decisive factor is what you want to use the 3D scan for. Some example scenarios:

  • To measure streets, the scanner must have a long range.
  • The 3D scanner must be able to be used on a mobile basis for the documentation of architectural decorations on a church, since the object to be scanned cannot be moved.
  • In order to produce realistic miniatures of people or animals, the 3D scanner must be able to recognize not only shapes, but also colors.

3D scanner as an app for the smartphone

Buying a 3D scanner for home use is costly. A cheap alternative to buying an expensive device are 3D scanner apps. There are different apps or even integrated 3D scanner programs in some smartphones . These also work in different ways, such as:

  • “3D Creator” in the Sony Xperia XZ1: The user has to guide the smartphone around the object or person, while the camera scans the entire surface. For example, the user can capture his face as a 3D model and use it for a digital avatar.
  • “Qlone” app: A small object must stand on a specially screened surface – then the camera can capture the object using the screen. The resulting small model can be printed out, for example.

If you want to make 3D scans with your smartphone, you need to have a high-performance mobile phone model as well as a lot of storage space. Depending on the size and resolution of the scan, the generated file can take up a lot of space on the storage medium.