Polhemus Scanning

Polhemus Scanning

Polhemus is a leading, global provider of 3D position/orientation tracking systems, digitising technology solutions, eye-tracking systems and handheld three-dimensional scanners. Its products use electromagnetic technology and Virtalis has used them in systems and solutions for the medical industry, university research, in the military training and simulation sector and by CAD users. Polhemus products have a reputation for being reliable, easy to use and cost-effective and Virtalis is one of the highest selling distributors in the world.

Virtalis is the exclusive reseller/distributor of Polhemus products in the UK and we can sell integrated solutions using Polhemus products worldwide, such as our ActiveSpace and Helicopter Crew Reality systems.


Fastsscan Dundee2


FastSCAN is lightweight and ultra-portable. The entire system is supplied in a briefcase, and setup only takes a few minutes.  As a result, it is possible to scan objects onsite, in their natural environments. The first laser scanner one can easily travel with, FastSCAN sets up almost anywhere, indoor or out. FastSCAN instantly acquires three dimensional surface images when you sweep the handheld laser scanning wand over an object, in a manner similar to spray painting. The object’s image immediately appears on the computer screen. As FastSCAN provides real-time visual feedback, monitoring and controlling the scan process is straightforward.

Unlike other scanners, FastSCAN automatically stitches your scans together, saving a great deal of time. The sweeps list enables turning individual sweeps on and off to facilitate optimizing the amount of data in the final output. Two different FastSCAN systems are available to accommodate varied scanning requirements and budgets.

Applications for the FastSCAN include:

  • Archaeology
  • Art Creativity & Cultural Preservation
  • Metrology
  • Entertainment
  • Reverse Engineering & Rapid Prototyping
  • Forensics
  • Wood Working & Custom Manufacture



Using the FastSCAN Cobra enables image capture of objects to occur in a rapid and accurate fashion in a variety of settings. The compact, portable laser scanner works by casting a fan of laser light over the object, while the camera on the wand views the laser to record a cross-sectional profile.

To allow for movement during scanning, the Cobra employs two embedded motion-tracking devices. The practitioner attaches a small receiver to the object, close to the area being scanned. This receiver works with the embedded motion-tracking device to determine the position and orientation of the scanner’s wand, relative to the object being scanned. The practitioner then scans the object by smoothly sweeping the handheld laser scanning wand over it, in a manner similar to spray painting, enabling the computer to reconstruct the full 3D surface of the object.

“We adopted digital technology largely because of the positive results we got when we began using SensAble FreeForm software. It enabled us to sculpt a reconstruction of Bach’s face. We also realised that digital methods are completely non invasive. This aspect becomes very significant when the remains you are dealing with are in poor condition. We recently worked on some Viking skulls that were paper thin and our use of the FastSCAN meant we barely had to touch them. Also, once we have the digital data, we can recreate them, thanks to digital printing.”
Caroline Needham, Research Assistant in Forensic and Medical Art


Delta is advanced comparative software for the Polhemus FastSCAN family of handheld laser scanners. Developed to simplify the process of creating surface and volume measurements on complex 3D shapes, Delta works directly with files generated by FastSCAN systems. Delta provides complete workflow solutions to many complex problems.

Delta software offers a powerful arsenal of features. Delta lets you precisely compare two scans or measure a single scan.  After registering two different scans of a surface, Delta can calculate volume differences, distances and displacement maps.  With a single scan, it can readily calculate volumes of concavity or convexity using advanced 3D interpolation techniques to create a reference surface. Moreover, Delta can precisely interpolate over defects.


The Patriot Digitizer


The PATRIOT Digitizer includes everything you need to start digitising objects – from engineering prototypes to precious artwork. Utilising Polhemus’s magnetic tracking technology for advanced military applications, the digitising stylus can be moved freely around, under and behind objects big and small.

The PATRIOT Digitizer Stylus can capture data points in hard to reach places easily and has a range of up to five feet for a 10 foot diameter workspace. It is tracked using Polhemus’ magnetic 6DoF technology and requires no mechanical arm or optical markers. The entry level system, which comes with all the hardware needed to start free-form digitising, is available at a very affordable price. The Patriot Digitiser is quick and easy to install, requiring only a standard PC and either USB or RS-232 port.


Polhemus Website


*The systems are not certified for medical or bio-medical use. Any reference to medical or bio-medical use are examples of what medical companies have done with the systems after obtaining all the necessary or appropriate medical certifications. The end user/OEM must comply with all pertinent FDS/CE and all other regulatory requirements.

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