Re-use Your Printer’s Old Flatbed Scanner for CAD



Did you know that your old printer’s flatbed scanner could be a valuable tool for your CAD (Computer-Aided Design) workflow? Typically used to copy documents and send faxes, these scanners can be repurposed to help you design parts for your projects with ease. In this blog post, we’ll show you how simple it is to get accurate models using a paper printer’s scanner, a measuring tape, and a CAD application like Fusion 360. Let’s explore how this process can save you time and effort while improving your design accuracy.

Step 1: Setting Up the Scan

To begin, set up your 3D print and place the item you want to scan on the flatbed scanner, ensuring it’s visible and not obstructed. Lay the measuring tape face down on the scanner as well, making sure it’s clearly visible. Add some weight on top of the tape to keep it in place during the scanning process. Now, using a scanning utility (like the default one from the Windows store), scan the objects on the scanner bed.

Step 2: Review and Adjust the Scan

After scanning, review the image to ensure all objects and measurements are clear. If anything is unclear or obstructed, organize the items on the scanner and rescan them.

Step 3: Save the Scan

Once you have a scan you’re satisfied with, save it in a preferred location on your computer so you can access it through the CAD application easily. The advantage of using a flatbed scanner over a camera is that it captures the image as a series of parallel lines, eliminating perspective and optical distortion that you would normally get with a camera.

Step 4: Bring the Image into Fusion 360

Now, open Fusion 360 and set up your project. Insert the scanned image as a canvas into the workspace. To calibrate the image, right-click on the canvas in the tree view and select “calibrate.” Use the measuring tape in the image to select two points a reasonable distance apart, and enter the value of that distance when prompted. The lager the distance you use, the margin of error decreases, increasing accuracy. Your image is now calibrated and ready for use.

Step 5: Sketch and Model

With the calibrated image in place, start sketching on top of the canvas, tracing the features as closely as possible. Once the sketch is complete, you can proceed with extruding features to create your 3D model.

Step 6: Print and Finish

After modeling, prepare the model by slicing and printing as normal. Providing you have followed these steps closely, you should now have an accurate part ready for use


Repurposing your printer’s old flatbed scanner for CAD design opens up new possibilities for creating complex objects with precision. From 3D printing to laser cutting, this technique offers limitless options for your projects. Whether you’re designing enclosures, circuit boards, or even repairing household items, using a flatbed scanner and CAD application can save you time and improve your design accuracy. Give it a try and let us know in the comments how it worked for you!

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