How 3D Body Scanning Is Useful for Measurement Applications In the Medical Field

Medical applications in surface 3d body scanning

Handheld 3D scanners are now more widely adopted in the medical field as a trusted measurement instrument for full-body scan analysis. This is especially true for anthropometry, the study of measurements and proportions of the human body. I was fortunate to be given the opportunity to speak at the World Obesity and Weight Management Congress in 2022. This article is based on the presentation, Practical Uses of Optical 3D Scanner in Anthropometry.

How does a body 3D scanner work?

Our team created a video to demonstrate a 3D scanner’s ability to measure the human body and monitor changes over time (before and after a workout) with 3D surface body scanning. We used a handheld 3D scanner, the Artec Leo, for this demonstration.

Artec Leo uses structured-light 3D scanning technology and it operates like a video camera. The handheld 3D scanner captures objects in 3D with continuous scanning. Turn the device on and move around the subject for recording. The scanner provides real-time feedback on what areas have been missed and still need to be captured, making the scanning process fast and simple.

The resulting 3D model deliver an easy-to-understand visual representation of the subject, pinpointing which areas of the anatomical regions have changed, and by which degree.

  • Before Workout

    before workout scan result
  • After Workout

    after workout scan result

Here is a comparison of the bicep before and after a workout. 3D scanning technology empowers anyone to take measurements and compare them quickly. The difference between the two measurements is 0.89 inches (2.2606 cm). By capturing the entire body, you can always refer back to the file and pull data from the scan data at any time without going back to the subject to take further measurements.

Our video demonstration was a quick one to show the proof of concept of using a handheld 3D scanner for 3D body analysis. The process involves creating a benchmark measurement and then comparing it across time.


By repeating these scans at regular intervals, the practitioner has the power to monitor a person’s anatomical changes of any body part captured by a 3D scanner. 3D body scanning can be applied to other applications including:

  • Weight-loss or gain
  • Measuring or analyzing body size, volume, shape, and even skin surface texture over a period of time
  • Monitoring patients over time to ensure they get the proper treatment and healing is on schedule

Why use 3D scanning for body measurement?

3D body scanning with Artec scanner
3D body scanning is a fast, easy, and reliable method of acquiring accurate measurements.
3D scanning acquires a large amount of measurement data digitally in a short amount of time.

In less than a minute, you can get a replica of the whole body with millions of surface measurement points recorded digitally. You can scan all the members of an entire sports team individually in under an hour.

The raw data is then processed into a visual representation of the person in a matter of minutes. Before and after 3D models can be easily aligned together and is particularly useful for identifications of landmarks and changes in body composition. The data is documented and any measurements can be pulled from the record at any time.

Non-contact 3D scanning is a non-invasive way of measuring the body.
Solidworks screenshot

Because a 3D scanner is a non-contact measurement device, the practitioner doesn’t need to touch the subject when taking measurements. 3D scanning is less intrusive than traditional methods such as body fat calipers, tape measurements, etc. In special cases when contact with the patient’s body is not possible (i.e. burn victims, fragile injuries), medical practitioners can use non-contact 3D scanners to capture measurements of the face and body parts without any contact with the patient. This makes the patient more comfortable when acquiring the data.

Measuring the body is different from measuring inanimate objects.

The human body consists of curvatures which is difficult to measure accurately using conventional methods. Hence, it is much more difficult to take accurate measurements when compared to inanimate objects that are straight and rigid. The 3D scanner itself is foremost a measurement device. It excels at taking surface measurements from an organic shape.

Our recommendation for a 3D body scanner

While there are other 3D scanners in the market for taking body measurements (other examples include 3D scanning booths), we recommend using a handheld 3D scanner for this application.

Artec Leo 3D Scanner

Our Recommendation: Artec Leo

The Artec Leo is a great solution for capturing measurements of the entire body as well as any body parts such as the face, hands, and feet. Ease of use and ultra-high quality output make it one of the best body 3D scanners in the market.

Anna Levadnaya sums it up best about the Artec Leo as a body scanner:

“3D scanning with the Artec Leo captures a person’s precise body measurements and dimensions in less than one minute for their entire body, resulting in a color, submillimeter-accurate 3D digital twin of their body at that exact moment in time.”

– Anna Levadnaya, MD

Artec Leo At A Glance

  • World’s first wireless and AI-driven handheld 3D scanner
  • Truly mobile 3D scanning
  • Built-in processor so no need for a computer for data capture
  • Data acquisition at 80 frames per second
  • Factory calibrated for guaranteed accuracy (up to 0.1 mm)
The Artec Leo provides a truly mobile 3D scanning experience

Unlike other handheld 3D scanners out there, Artec Leo is the first of its kind of handheld 3D scanner that is completely wireless and AI-driven. It has a powerful built-in processor for 3D capturing, a built-in touchscreen, and onboard Wi-Fi for a truly mobile experience. When you are capturing data, you are unhindered by wires while you do the entire body scan because it is battery-operated. You can move around freely as you wish.

With everything at the convenience of your fingertips, the practitioner doesn’t need to be tethered to a computer to preview the results. Everything is displayed on the built-in touchscreen, making the scanning fast and efficient.

The Artec Leo was designed with the user in mind.

From our video demonstration, it is easy to see that the Artec Leo can be operated by user of any experience level, even if they don’t have prior experience with 3D scanning. The scanner doesn’t need any calibration. All you have to do is point and shoot at the subject to take scans.

Artec Leo provides accurate measurements you can trust.
3D face scan

If you have taken measurements using a measuring tape, you know that sometimes you can get different numbers with every attempt. With a 3D scanner like the Artec Leo, you are able to get repeatable results. A 3D scanner like the Artec Leo has a 3D point accuracy of up to 0.1 mm (100 microns). You can take the circumference of any enclosed shape and take precise measurements. 3D scanning eliminates the human error you can get from manually taking measurements. Make decisions with confidence from an accurate measurement device like the Artec Leo.

Final Thoughts

Compared to other conventional measurement instruments, handheld 3D scanners allow for much greater flexibility in full body scan analysis and related applications due to faster data capture rates and data processing as well as their ability to take accurate, repeatable measurements.

The human body is unique. A 3D scanner’s ability to take body measurements easily also makes it a perfect candidate as the measurement tool of choice for creating customized products that fit exceptionally well on patients (including face masks, orthotics, hearing aids, and helmets).

Photo source: Artec3D and Sanitätshaus Klinz

Using a 3D scanner as a method of collecting body measurements can be extended to other medical applications including:

  • 3D printing and prosthetics
  • Reconstructive surgery
  • Dental
  • Orthopedics

If you have any questions related to using a 3D scanner for medical applications, please feel free to contact us.

3D scanning

Free Online Consultation

How Will 3D Scanning Transform The Way You Work?

We’ll demonstrate how 3D scanning works and answer any questions you have about the value this technology brings to your organization.