3D scanning is the process of analyzing a real-world object or environment to collect data on its shape and possibly its appearance (e.g. colour). The collected data can then be used to construct digital 3D models.

A 3D scanner can be based on many different technologies, each with its own limitations, advantages and costs. Many limitations in the kind of objects that can be digitised are still present. for example, optical technology may encounter many difficulties with shiny, reflective or transparent objects. For example, industrial computed tomography scanning and structured-light 3D scanners can be used to construct digital 3D models, without destructive testing.