The Laser Doesn’t Lie: An Intro to Laser Scanning

By Michael Petrantoni – Architectural Technician – Retail Design




Utilizing 3D laser scanning has a myriad of benefits, all of which contribute differently to the various aspects of a project and impact all the people involved. From the architects and engineers to the design team and technicians, laser scanning provides the information and data you need to make well-informed calculations, decisions and execute design ideas. It gives you the ability to get the right information the first time you are in the field.

How it works

Laser scanning digitally captures the dimensions and space of objects using a line of laser light. Scans are then registered together to form what is referred to as a point cloud. The cloud itself consists of millions and millions of data points and is an extremely accurate representation of the object or objects scanned. Once the cloud is generated, it can then be manipulated, however needed, to form either a 2D drawing or a 3D model.

This efficient new technology is being used in a variety of industries, from transportation to utilities, industrial plants, building renovations, oil production and forensic evaluation – just to name a few. It is also being utilized in new construction to provide a time record of all installed trades.

Why use laser scanning?

Often, buildings undergoing renovation don’t have existing plans – and if they do, they are extremely out of date. Employing 3D laser scanning during renovation can provide an updated plan, and when used during new construction, can create a plan quickly and easily for future references.  Not only that, it will also provide a digital record which allows for measurements to be continually taken.

It gives designers and technicians the ability to see a visual of the site without being there; decreases field time; increases the visibility and understanding of a site; and allows for accurate spatial reconstruction, all with extremely high precision data.

In addition to those benefits, it lowers the risk of mistakes, reduces re-work, helps decrease overall cost and leads to fewer site re-visits.

Embracing newer, more accurate technology

Some still reject and question laser scanning due to a simple lack of awareness about the details and technology.  It’s perceived to be extremely expensive, and some companies just may not know enough about the basics. To put it simply, no matter the project type, the benefits of a precise and proper laser scan are immense and completely invaluable.

A 3D scan provides a high level of data at an accuracy, definition and resolution that traditional methods of measurement can’t compete with. Laser scanning improves collaboration across numerous trades and disciplines that all have access to the same point cloud. They then can work together on the same model, so mishaps and clashes can be detected and corrected before construction even begins.

The sheer amount of data collected from one scan is astronomical. You can gather millions of data points from one scan, to billions of data points for a larger building or area. Having this at our disposal and on demand reduces repeated site visits, re-surveys and re-measurements, and reduces re-work – all of which keep projects on or under budget as well as increases productivity.

In closing, anyone who has worked within this industry knows that scope changes and client alterations come with the territory – it’s simply the name of the game.  However, by obtaining an accurate, complete and thorough 3D scan, you can have the resources at your disposal to handle those changes when and as they present themselves.

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