Behind the Scenes Tour of USF’s New Access 3D Lab

By Peyton Roux

A new lab has opened at the University of South Florida and it is unlike any other lab. Free for students to use, Access 3D Lab introduces USF to the future of technology.

Access 3D Lab is located in room 102 of the College of Arts & Sciences Multidisciplinary Complex building.

The vision of the lab is “to harness the power of 3D virtualization to enhance learning, faculty research, and community engagement at USF and beyond.”

3D virtualization is the process of creating content by using 3D software. In order to make an online museum of priceless artifacts, someone has to scan the artifact using specific equipment.

Access 3D Lab has many things to offer, including equipment that is used around the world to create a 3D digital model, training and a classroom.

“We have scanners that are capable of documenting small objects from museum collections, all the way up through larger objects, sights and landscapes,” said Dr. Laura Harrison, director of Access 3D Lab.

The lab has a DJI Phantom 4, a long-range FARO terrestrial scanner that is used for larger objects, like houses or restaurants.

The lab also offers the FARO Arm laser scanner, the FARO Freestyle, the Artec SpaceSpider and the Artec Eva for short range scanning.

The FARO Arm has the most precision of the short-range scanners, being able to detect details as small as 0.025 mm. It can scan things as large as 5 ft. However, it only scans objects in grayscale. There is no color.

The Artec SpaceSpider and the Artec Eva are structured light scanners. They both measure the distortion of a horizontal grid light when it strikes a surface to measure the 3D surface. They use light to get the texture of an object.

“I use the Artec SpaceSpider the most just because my interest lies in creating a virtual museum and scanning archaeological data,” said Dr. Harrison. “It’s also easy to use in the lab.”

The lab also uses photogrammetry. Photogrammetry is the art and science of creating a 3D model by using overlapping 2D photographs taken at various positions. In order to take these pictures, the object needs to be in a controlled environment. In the Access Lab’s case, they use a light box.

Access 3D Lab also has interactive promethean devices. On display in the lab is an active table.

Dr. Harrison is displaying 3D scans of museum objects online. The device usually displays the objects that are currently on Dr. Harrison’s profile on Sketchfab.

“We do have a 24-seat classroom with 3D enabled workstations and staff from the Access 3D Lab can come and teach your workshop for you or we can just provide you the tools that you need to lead your own workshop,” Dr. Harrison said.

This means that it has all the programs needed in order to properly scan objects. Staff from Access 3D Lab can come in and teach the class for teachers or the teachers can go ahead and run their own workshops.

Access 3D Lab is free for students and teachers. Anyone currently affiliated with USF can rent the equipment, as long as he or she fills out the proper paperwork.

Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, the lab offers faculty and students a wonderful opportunity to learn about 3D.