3d printers look pretty awesome, but I can't help but think that this youtube clip was a little doctored. Not because of the printer, but because of the scanner.

Can they really figure out the mechanics of a crescent wrench that quickly with their awesome scanner gizmo?

I believed my eyes for a minute it until I started reading the comments and got to thinking that it seemed a little strange. How could the inside of the crescent wrench be discovered by reflecting light at it? How could it discover, without some sort of x-ray, gears you can't even see?

  • The printer is legitimate. I assume you mean something about the processs. Please refine the question for the part you are skeptical about.
    – Chad
    Jul 19, 2011 at 17:51
  • You seem to be asking about the scanner rather than the printer. Can you clarify this? I can provide examples and information about the printer but I’m as baffled as you are by the scanner – I know that 3D scanners exist but that they are able to figure out moving parts must be a very recent development and isn’t very credible, given that this should require more than just visuospatial information. Jul 19, 2011 at 20:23
  • The screw in original wrench and the printed one are clearly different.
    – vartec
    Jul 19, 2011 at 21:19
  • You should clarify the title... the title seems like you're skeptical about the speed; the question represents that you're skeptical about the ability of a light-based scanner to scan an internal component surrounded by solid material (see the worm gear through the external metal housing). If the latter is correct, please adjust the title to reflect that.
    – Hendy
    Jul 21, 2011 at 1:29

3 Answers 3


The scanner is from creaform, and indeed it does scan that fast.

As others have pointed out, it's not an xray scanner, so it can't discern the internal structure of the part, and it's quite obvious that they printed a crescent wrench they already had designed in 3D, not the one they scanned.

However, these scanners do exist, they do work, and they do work that fast.

US Patent 20080201101 (also in PDF)

Creaform Handyscan 3D scanners

Further, if you peek through the Lord of the Rings extra features, you'll find that they used these scanners to capture cast faces for 3D digital compositing.

There are countless videos that demonstrate the speed and range of these devices.


The person in the video admitted that this was partially fake:

… there’s no way [that the scanner] could have gotten the internal structure of the wrench … the implication that that thing … that we scanned was the thing we printed was wrong.

That said, 3D printers like shown in the vide exist. The German branch of the H (heise.de / c’t) showcases several different work pieces that have been produced by 3D printer web stores. As these videos show, it’s in particular possible to print devices with moving parts in one single go.

For those who want to try this out themselves, there are several online services that offer 3D printing services, among them


let me bust this by looking at the details of what's shown in the vid

  1. if you look carefully at the real thing at 0:14 and compare it with the copy at 3:36 you'll see that the shape of the head doesn't match

  2. note the ring at the end of the handle: on scanned wrench at 2:30 it's a D-ring on the original it's a hole in the handle

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