Review: Creality CR-Scan Lizard – affordable 3D scanning for the masses

3D Printing Industry reviews the Creality CR-Scan Lizard 3D scanner.

Founded in 2014, Creality has quickly grown to be one of the biggest names in the desktop 3D printing space. The company’s product portfolio is a vast one, covering both FDM and resin-based LCD 3D printers such as the Ender-7, CR-6 SE, CR-30, and the HALOT range.

Although not as well known, Creality also offers its own line of 3D scanners. Intended as a successor to the company’s debut CR-Scan 01 scanner, the new CR-Scan Lizard is designed to bridge performance and accessibility, bringing professional but cost-effective 3D scanning to the masses.

Creality’s handheld CR-Scan Lizard is suitable for both small and large part scanning and is available in two versions. The standard version boasts an affordable sub-$800 price tag, while the higher-performance Color Kit version is expected to be available for around $100 more. The latter allows users to integrate the scanner with cell phones and DSLR cameras to scan colorful textures, paving the way for more artistic applications in VR, AR, gaming, and full-color 3D printing. For this review, we’ll be working with the standard package.

So who’s it aimed at? Well, everyone. Seeing as many higher-end industrial devices can cost around $15,000 or more, Creality’s offering is perfect for just about anyone operating on a budget. This includes artists, teachers, makers, designers, engineers, and anyone else looking to get their creative juices flowing.

The CR-Scan Lizard. Photo via Creality.
The CR-Scan Lizard. Photo via Creality.

A versatile and reliable hardware package

Creality is very much a household name in 3D printing, and it didn’t get to this point by cutting corners. Like all of the company’s products, the CR-Scan Lizard is extremely well-packaged, making for a pleasant unboxing experience. Each of the parts is sufficiently protected and the scanner itself is packaged in a hardshell case to ensure it doesn’t get damaged during shipping. In the box, you’ll find the 3D scanner, a tripod, a turntable, a USB drive, and all of the wiring required to hit the ground running.

The CR-Scan Lizard relies on near-infrared (NIR) LEDs for the light source, and uses three binocular cameras to scan objects. This combination is safe for the human eye, unlike some laser-based scanning technologies, so feel free to dive in without any goggles. The scanner offers a resolution of between 0.1 – 0.2mm, accuracy of up to 0.05mm, and a scan speed of 10fps.

Anyone that’s handled Creality’s latest scanner can attest to just how ergonomic it is. Weighing in at just 370g and measuring 155 x 84 x 46mm, the system is incredibly lightweight, making it very comfortable for longer scanning sessions where you might be on your feet.

But what if you don’t want to hold the scanner at all? This is where the tripod and turntable come in. The CR-Scan Lizard can be propped up on its own nimble stand with the part being scanned placed on the spinning turntable. This setup is very efficient and works great for smaller objects less than 300mm in length. For larger objects up to 1.5m in length, however, you’ll still need to opt for the handheld approach as the desktop-based turntable simply isn’t wide enough.

Interestingly, the Creality is designed to work without any positioning targeting whatsoever, which the company says is a time-saver. While we can see how this might play into the accessibility aspect, we still thought the option to use positioning targets would’ve been great as it can really help a scanner maintain its tracking with complex geometries and flat or large surfaces.

When it comes to environmental conditions, the CR-Scan Lizard’s LED technology claims to operate in both bright sunlight and dimmer, shadowed areas. We’re happy to say this holds true as we tested the system in a variety of lighting conditions and never had any noticeable issues.

As is the case with any light-based 3D scanner, the device may find it tricky to capture surfaces that are pitch black or mirrored, as these are either overly absorptive or reflective. To be safe, we recommend having a primer spray or powder-coating spray handy. Before scanning, you can use these sprays to coat a part in a material that is lighter or less reflective, which makes it easier to scan.

The CR Studio software

To make use of the CR-Scan Lizard, you’ll also need Creality’s CR Studio software. Much like the scanner itself, the scan preparation program is designed with ease of use in mind, featuring a ‘one-click model optimization’ workflow that automates many of the more technical steps. With just a single click, the software automatically aligns, cleans, and merges scans to generate a final exportable STL model. For the most part, this works just fine.

For the more advanced users out there, Creality also grants access to the individual scan parameters. With CR Studio you can edit your scans by selecting individual point clouds, deleting them, and setting the ground levels. The software also allows us to improve the mesh once it’s been created by removing isolated items and filling in holes. Finally, if you’re not satisfied with the automatic alignment of the scans, you can manually merge them in the virtual workspace provided. These alignment tools can be a little finicky but will get the job done.

When it comes to performance, we encountered a few laggy hitches during scan processing but nothing too severe. We did, however, do our testing on mid to high-end PCs and so the experience may differ on a low-end laptop.

Where CR Studio really needs work is in the UI and UX. We appreciate this is subjective but the color scheme is based around various shades of the color grey and the graphical UI looks like something you’d find in an early 2000s CAD/CAM program. For a product that claims to make 3D scanning as accessible as possible, the button and menu layouts really aren’t that intuitive or easy to traverse.

There’s also something to be said about the software installation process. Rather than giving us a dedicated installer for the program, Creality has opted to make a .zip folder available to download on its website. It’s then up to the user to unzip the folder, find the .exe in that folder, and launch CR Studio from there. The entire configuration process feels raw, unrefined, and downright hacky – not something you’d expect from a global company.

All in all, the program works as intended but it’s undoubtedly the weakest link in the 3D scanning workflow. We’re impressed with the hardware of the CR-Scan Lizard but CR Studio could do with a revamp, both in terms of aesthetics and functionality. Luckily, software is much easier to upgrade than physical components, so here’s to hoping Creality can roll out an over-the-air update in the near future.

CR Studio UI. Image by 3D Printing Industry.
CR Studio UI. Image by 3D Printing Industry.

Benchmarking the Creality CR-Scan Lizard

It’s time to see whether or not the CR-Scan Lizard has any bite to back up the bark. We put the scanner through its paces with a wide variety of scan tests involving artistic models, 3D printed parts, and functional components.

The first of the tests was a 100mm benchmarking model. We scanned it in both handheld and table mode and compared the resulting scan files to the original STL of the part, giving us a quantitative method of evaluating the scanner’s dimensional precision (as shown in the heat maps below). For our point cloud analysis, we used the GOM Inspect and CloudCompare software packages.

In handheld mode, we found that all of the points on the scanned model were within -0.45mm and +0.30mm of their intended dimensions. The average offset clocked in at -0.0474mm with a standard deviation of 0.2177mm.

To put this into context, 99.6% of the scanned points lie between -0.70mm and +0.61mm of their intended dimensions, while 68.2% of the points sit between -0.26mm and +0.17mm of where they’re supposed to. This is an excellent result for a scanner in this price range. 

Similarly, in table mode, we found that all of the points were between -0.45mm and +0.15mm of their actual dimensions, with a mean of -0.1294mm and a standard deviation of 0.1869mm. The mean is worse in table mode but the standard deviation is better, meaning the offset of the dimensions is (on average) worse but they’re packed much closer together. We’d argue that the tightness of the distribution is more important as this is what determines repeatability.

In other words, 99.6% of the points lie between -0.69mm and +0.43mm, while 68.2% of the points are between -0.32mm and +0.06mm of their original dimensions. Again, a great result for what you pay.

Next up is the 3D Printing Industry benchmarking model, which consolidates many of our smaller print tests such as retraction, overhang, and bridging into one comprehensive part. We 3D printed this model as part of one of our previous 3D printer reviews and scanned it in table mode. The part features a whole host of complex geometries such as thin spikes, grooves, and even writing, allowing us to formulate a general overview of the scanner’s capabilities.

Looking at the STL of the scan, we notice the Creality’s flaws for the first time. Many of the thin spikes at the top of the tower have failed to materialize, while the writing on the surface of the model is readable but blurry. The model of the cat is recognizable but the finer features such as the eye sockets, ears, and nose have lost their form, resulting in what looks like chocolate on a warm day. The circles and hexagons lining the base of the benchmarking model actually turned out okay, albeit with some minor warping.

Then we scanned a couple of 3D printed tabletop models made of resin: a figure riding his trusty mechanical robot mount and a standing caped warrior. Both parts, although small, are quite complex when it comes to surface features. The robotic mount in particular is made up of a multitude of gears, bolts, and rivets that provide ample detail, while the standing figure has hair, patterning in the clothes and straw hat, and intricate weapons.

The CR-Scan Lizard performed adequately here. Looking at the rider, the scanner is accurate enough to figure out what the design is just from the scans, but has failed to capture many of the finer details in the model. The rivets and bolts on the surface of the mount are there but have lost their crispness in the scanning process. The rider’s face has also lost its smaller details, although features such as the goggles and the bag on his back have still come through successfully.

Similarly, with the warrior, we can clearly tell what the model is and make out some of the larger design features. Where the scanner trips up is in the smaller patterned sections such as the boots and the hands. Impressively, the hair and hat maintained their textures, despite the grooves being quite small.

The next scan on the Creality CR-Scan Lizard was of a head. The model was 3D printed on a full-color Mimaki 3DUJ-553 system and measures about 60mm tall.

This model is a fairly simple one, depicting a head on a cylindrical base. As expected, the scanner was accurate enough to quite easily determine exactly what the part is, but finer details such as the teeth, nostrils, and forehead wrinkles are lost in the final model. We were happy to find that the slightly raised wording around the base of the model was captured and readable, so this is one of the better scans produced by the Creality.

Next up was a rubber duck, a simple model that fits in the palm of a human hand. Although the geometry is very basic, the surface features plenty of smooth curves that can provide insight into the Creality’s capabilities.

We were very impressed with the CR-Scan Lizard here. The smooth curvature of the body was preserved with integrity, and even when zoomed into the STL file, it’s quite difficult to make out the tessellation (triangles). The Creality holds its own with rounded structures and circular shapes.

For our penultimate scan run, we had the CR-Scan Lizard capture two models 3D printed in white PLA: a lion and the Statue of Liberty. Both parts are highly detailed, with the lion featuring an abundance of texture in the mane, face, as well as the striations of the muscles. Similarly, Lady Liberty has tiny surface features like the torch in the hand and the structural details in the base.

Looking at the lion, the details in the face and the furry texture of the mane were captured beautifully, making the scan look very much like the original. Even the tiny striations of the muscles and the ribcage could be seen in the final scanned model. A major success.

The Statue of Liberty scan wasn’t the best of the bunch, but it was good enough. The model maintained its silhouette as a whole, along with many of the structural details in the base. Where the scanner failed to perform was in the more intricate details of the figure. For example, one of the spikes on Lady Liberty’s head was lost and the other spikes came out fairly warped. Similarly, the details in the face and torch ended up looking melting, losing their sharpness.

Our final scan with the CR-Scan Lizard was the largest of them all – a 3D printed Neapolitan Fisherman sculpture. The object stands 50cm tall, allowing us to evaluate the performance of the scanner in handheld mode.

Interestingly, the Neapolitan Fisherman scan was definitively one of the best. As well as preserving all of the smooth curves and sharp edges, the CR-Scan Lizard managed to capture the finer textures in the hair, clothing, and drapes. The lines along the back of the lute are also clear as day and the surface quality as a whole looks great. Even the muscles running along the back of the fisherman look natural, much like a photograph.

The verdict

When all is said and done, the CR-Scan Lizard succeeds in its aim of making professional-grade 3D scanning accessible to anyone. Sure, you don’t get many of the frills available with an industrial-grade system but it’s less than a tenth of the price of many competitors and the scan quality is excellent for the price tag.

The strong point here is certainly the hardware. Creality has taken care to design the scanner with ergonomics in mind, allowing for a quick and easy pick-up-and-play experience. The inclusion of a tripod and turntable also provides the option of a passive workflow, making for a great hands-free experience too.

As far as shortcomings go, the majority of the points are tied to the software side of things. This isn’t to say CR Studio doesn’t work – it does work, but that’s really all it does. It would’ve been great to provide users with more information such as scan time, post-processing time, settings reports, number of faces, and more, all packaged in a better thought-out UI. The installation process is also fairly clunky and we experienced a number of bugs during use such as crashing and display issues.

Still, if you can look past the non-optimal software experience, the CR-Scan Lizard is an excellent product and we highly recommend it. It delivers on what it promises and the low cost is simply too good to pass up when you’re operating on a tight budget.

Technical specifications

Accuracy 0.05mm
Resolution 0.1 – 0.2mm
Single capture range 200 x 100mm
Working distance 150 – 400mm
Min scanning size 15 x 15 x 15mm
Scan speed 10fps
Light source LED + NIR
Scanner dimensions 155 x 84 x 46mm
Weight 370g

Buy the Creality CR-Scan Lizard 3D scanner here.

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Featured image shows the CR-Scan Lizard. Photo via Creality.

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