A 3D scanner is a device that analyzes a real-world object or environment to collect data on its shape and possibly its appearance (i.e. color). The collected data can then be used to construct digital, three dimensional models.
Many different technologies can be used to build these 3D scanning devices; each technology comes with its own limitations, advantages and costs. Many limitations in the kind of objects that can be digitized are still present, for example, optical technologies encounter many difficulties with shiny, mirroring or transparent objects.