Introducing Creaform’s Scanner About Town  


Boasting scan-to-mesh in seconds and an accuracy of 0.035 mm, Creaform’s HandyScan is a standalone device – meaning that it doesn’t require any external tracking device, or a tripod, to operate. What’s immediately apparent is that this makes it great to use anywhere – it’s very much an on-the-go kind of device. With this in mind our first thoughts go to the design and manufacturing industries, where the HandyScan professional scanner can shine with its stylish look and eye for design or detail. Though on further thought, the HandyScan’s compactness makes it suited for just about anything. We expect there are few nooks and crannies the machine can’t get behind (or under, over, or around). 

With its light weight, the scanner is easy to hold and can fit into a suitcase, so your scanning pursuits don’t need to stay in just one place. Now in its third generation, the latest version of HandyScan features improvements and optimization while promising ease of use, as well as results that are highly accurate and (very importantly) very repeatable. This of course makes it stand out for quality control and metrology tasks. Imagine using something as portable as this for a factory line or manufacturing plant? We’re interested! 

Since its first version, the HandyScan has expanded and spread its handheld scanning wings to go from the HandyScan 300 or HandyScan 700, to the very swanky HandyScan BLACK and Black Elite. Various packages are also offered, for example, the HandyScan Aeropack, designed for use in the aviation industry amid an increasing demand to keep aircraft safety, design, and engineering at its peak. It is surely here that its promise of inspections, reverse engineering, maintenance and repair operations shine. But besides a very cool aesthetic, portability, and excellence both designed for specific industries and an ability to scan anything, what do you get with the Creaform HandyScan? 

With a snappy promise of TRUaccuracy™, TRUsimplicity™, TRUportability™, a promise of accuracy of up to 0.035 (or 0.025 for Black Elite), and resolution of up to 0.025mm for both, we dive a little deeper to find out what you get for the HandyScan 3D cost, and how this scanner lives up to its promises. 

The Story

To understand HandyScan’s place in today’s scanning market, it’s worth looking back a little – or a lot. Way back in 2007, and those of you who have been in the industry for a while will remember this, Creaform introduced the EXAscan scanner. It was this EXAscan – the grandparents of today’s sleeker version – which at the time featured the highest resolution and accuracy of all the company’s scanners. The claim to fame of this first generation HandyScan still rings true today – older Creaform HandyScans 300/700 offer the same accuracy as their predecessor, while the Black goes deeper into detail. 

We do appreciate this dedication to creating a product that works so well, and committing to improving it over the decades. Our modern HandyScan comes from a long line of successful scanners, and today has far more to offer than the ones which came before. 

We’ll talk more about the software – VXelements – another time. But the two when used together provide highly accurate scans, and the ability to generate CAD models (with add-ons including Scan-to-CAD and dimensional inspection software). 


In this Creaform HandyScan review we take a look at what’s hot with this scanner, and the list is a long one. Of all that’s offered, here are our favourite (and arguably) the most important features:

  • Portable
  • High accuracy
  • Scan-to-mesh
  • Simple, versatile, and oh so stylish!


When it comes to scanning, we know how much of a pain it can be to lug around heavy equipment and add-ons, especially if you’re going out of town or to another country for the job. With the HandyScan, you’re already looking at a lot less weight. That is to say, it’s literally very light at just under a kilo (or just over 2 pounds). That’s a lot less arm fatigue as you hold a scanner in place while getting into those tricky corners, or while scanning a large object. 

It’s also a standalone device, which means it doesn’t need a tripod or external tracking device to operate. What also adds to its portability is the fact that it can work in any environmental conditions, with a claim that performance and results won’t be affected. 


While taking your scanner all over the world like its no big deal is appealing, what’s the point if it can’t deliver results? Fortunately in this case, that’s not much of a problem: the HandyScan Black series offers accuracy of up to 0.025mm, which we especially like for small parts in high detail. 

With dynamic referencing, both the scanner and the part can’t move during the scanning process – something a lot of other scanners can’t promise – and still leave you with accurate results. This is especially good for beginners; we’re well familiar with having to deal with unsteady scanning or unbalanced surfaces while you’re trying to scan your best. As it turns out, not a problem for the HandyScan. 

Another option for accuracy with the HandyScan is the various modes you can use it in: multiline, single line, and high contrast. 

Multiline does as you might imagine: multiple lines scan your object all at once (7 blue laser crosses for Black and 11 for Black Elite). This is good for capturing the entire object as you will, while in the case of the Elite scanner, an additional single line – also self-explanatory – lets you zoom in with one line of light scanning independently. So, you’ll be able to focus your attention on specific areas of interest. This can be tricky, but we’ll get to that later. 

Another option you can select is high contrast mode, which offers greater accuracy. 


Equipped with multiple laser crosses, an automatic mesh generation, and blue laser technology, the HandyScan allows a faster workflow and minimal interruptions. It’s set-up time is quick too – Your mesh files are ready to use right away and this little guy will be up and running in under two minutes. 

The interface itself is simple, making it even easier to use and accessible to all regardless of whether you’re a scanning pro or a complete novice. 


While we could talk all day about a high demand for superb accuracy for small, detained objects, we’re also all about being able to scan larger objects. With this you also get a high measurement rate of up to 1,300,000 measurements per second. That’s one thing that makes the scanner versatile, and we’ll get more into what it’s like to scan bigger objects a bit later on.

Besides being very much a plug and play device, the HandyScan is also incredibly stylish. Scan anything you like, and look like a boss doing it. It’s great on all kinds of surfaces, too. 

First Impressions

As far as first impressions go, there’s a lot to like with the Creaform HandyScan. It’s stylish, it’s light, it’s great for scanning small objects, and there are various options you can play around with to find the mode that you most need to use, or that best serves your purposes. 

Have we ever met a scanner we loved that had no room for improvement or negative factors? Never – and as the market develops, we’re not sure we ever will. Here’s what we wish could be done better: 


We wish it wasn’t so, but there’s one thing we have to mention: how long or how large you can scan. Something that it didn’t take us long to realise – not just that it was happening, but how exactly it would affect the scanning process – is that all scanning data is saved on the scanner’s 16GB GPU. This doesn’t leave a lot of room for scanning, especially for large objects. 

  • Space
  • Versatility
  • UX
  • Price


If you want high mesh resolution – let’s say 0.1 mm resolution the Black/Black Elite offers – you’re out of space very quickly. We’re talking less than three minutes. What happens once you run out? You’re met with a notification that you’re out of GPU  memory and that scanning has been stopped. You’re also assured that your scanning data has not been lost. There is however, a catch here: you’re now in a position where you can end the scanning and start again. And while your scan data is, as promised, still here, it’s also taking up all the space you need to complete the scan. We found ourselves at a dead end here. 

Refusing to find ourselves defeated by a scanner we were really starting to warm up to, we played around with different options to find a combination that would work. 

Something interesting here is that your settings for resolution and fusion can be adjusted differently, and it is here that this fact came in useful. 

At 0.1mm resolution and 0.1 fusion, space runs out too fast. 

0.1 resolution and 0.3 fusion also left us with not enough data. 

Finally, we found the trick to it: 0.3 resolution and 0.3 fusion. With these settings we were able to complete a scan, but perhaps not with the resolution that we initially desired. 


I know, I know, we said we loved the scanner’s versatility, but here’s where it fell short: the items you’re able to scan, and the results you can expect. If you work with small items or don’t need too high a resolution, you’re gold. If you need to scan larger objects or require the best resolution possible, or what was promised, you may find yourself disappointed. 

User Experience 

While the scanner is, as we mentioned, quite light, having to use it for too long can also get tiring. For a medium size object, we ended up scanning for 45 minutes to capture all data from all angles. This is partly because the single line option we mentioned before, while well-intentioned, takes a bit of time to use effectively. 

The verdict for this? It took too much time, and it wasn’t particularly easy, even not factoring time spent working out the settings that let us scan what we needed to.  


If you’re looking for the latest version of Creaform’s HandyScan scanners and the ones that boast the best results and experience – that is, the Black and the Black Elite – you’re looking to be set back from $50,000 to $100,000. 

Is the HandyScan3D price high in the range of similar scanners? Yes. Does it have enough plus points to justify it? Let’s have a closer look. 


Artec 3D

If you’re in the market for something like this but would first like to consider your options or explore more specs – well, that’s what we’re here for, and we highly recommend you do just that! 

First, Artec Space Spider. Also promising high accuracy, resolution, and data is Artec 3D’s Space Spider. Initially designed for out-of-this-world scanning on the International Space Station, this extraterrestrial bit of technology is made for machine parts, reverse engineering, and even body parts, which comes in very useful in the medical industry. It also checks all the boxes: light (0.8kg or 1.8lb), high resolution (0.1mm), high accuracy (0.05 mm + 0.3 mm/m) and better still, it costs a lot less and doesn’t require targets. You’ll pick up one of these for $24,800.

Another Artec scanner if you’re looking for convenience and ease of use is Artec Leo – but we could talk all day about Leo and that’s not why we’re here.  

Faro Arm CMM

Faro’s range of scanning arms can also provide a good set of alternatives, especially if you’re looking to scan small parts. This industry leader in CMMs offers high accuracy, consistency, and speed – as much as hate to admit it, robots are still better than humans at some things, including speed and consistency. The FARO Gage, for example, measures at 0.018mm accuracy and can be operated via bluetooth from up to 10 meters away. 


Because the HandyScan is metrology grade, it is of course most suited to quality control and product development.  Because of its accuracy, high resolution, most importantly, repeatable results, it fits right in for use on a factory line or in a store. 

For more on Creaform’s HandyScan, visit their site for specification and more information, or get in touch with them for more on prices, and where to find the HandyScan 3D for sale.  


In summary, we’re impressed with this scanner and would recommend it for scanning small objects in high accuracy and with a great field of view. It certainly doesn’t come without its flaws, but we’re willing to work around some shortcomings for the overall excellence of this product. 

Have your own experience? Let us know what you think!