5 Myths Of Reality Capture 3D Laser Scanning
Everything you think you know about 3D laser scanning services deserves a closer look. The hearsay is old talk, flat — two-dimensional! Below, we deconstruct the 3D laser scanning myths you’ve been believing for far too long.
1. MYTH: IT’S TOO EXPENSIVE
REALITY: IT REDUCES MARGIN OF ERROR AND CAN BE AFFORDABLE
One change order can exceed the cost of the 3D laser scanning. You’re probably thinking that getting a 3D laser scan is an unneeded luxury, but the cost of not scanning your building/project can lead to design mistakes, replacements, and other unexpected incurred costs during construction.
A 3D laser scanning quote can be a pretty intimidating number up front. By opting out of a 3D laser scan, you lend yourself susceptible to an increased margin of error and accumulating costs over time stemming from poor as-builts. The potential for all of this could outweigh the cost of the entire scanning service. Ultimately, architects can create a design in BIM software using unreliable, outdated record drawings, but a scan is important for existing-conditions representation and precision in design.
A 3D laser scan takes accurate measurements for BIMs at a margin of the cost it would take to employ a team of people with tape measures, pen, and paper — and without the heightened potential for error. With the variety of high-tech hardware available now, 3D laser scanning requires less people to execute a scan, meaning less people to pay for better work.
Scanning hardware consists of a variety between tripods, drones, and wearable backpacks.
A 3D laser scanning service like PrecisionPoint’s RapidScan uses a wearable backpack that can scan an area 30x faster than traditional tripod scanners, be less disruptive to the building occupants, and deliver data with centimeter accuracy.
2. MYTH: WE CAN JUST DO IT OURSELVES
REALITY: 3D LASER SCANNING REQUIRES SPECIALIZED SKILLS AND EQUIPMENT TO DO CORRECTLY
You can buy a hammer and nails, but can you build a house? 3D laser scanning takes thorough attention and a unique set of skills. Scanning service employees receive training on multiple pieces of equipment, learn how to tie scans to georeference survey control points, and understand what combination of equipment to use per every client’s standards.
With the recent integration of multi-sensor mobile scanning systems, the skill set required for data capture, post processing, and aligning point cloud sets require a higher degree of specialized skills to execute successfully. True scanning professionals are United States Institute of Building Documentation LOA (Level of Accuracy) certified and can define and interpret the scope of work and hardware needed for a scan. They then align these calculations with the intended use of the scan data. Simply, this is where DIYers fall short.
Yes, you can buy entry-level market 3D laser scanners, but none will compare to the speed, accuracy, and precision of professional grade scanners. Consumer grade scanners might prove beneficial for a single room, but not an entire building spanning hundreds of thousands of square feet. It takes a combination of scanners to document a site correctly, quickly, and accurately.
Professional service providers are also experienced in strategizing the right hardware and time it takes to scan buildings efficiently. If you were to do it yourself, you may be contracting out more people than necessary for lower-quality, less-efficient results.
3. MYTH: MODELING PROGRAMS CAN’T HANDLE THIS DATA
REALITY: TODAY’S BIM & CAD SOFTWARE HAVE DEMOCRATIZED POINT CLOUDS
Major design modeling softwares today have direct compatibility with various point cloud formats and file types. Autodesk for instance, has built-in native functionality to import point cloud files directly into the design workspace for Revit, AutoCAD, and Inventor. This is extremely useful whether starting a design from a feature-rich, accurate point cloud, or from a blank workspace.
Further, major software companies have optimized the point cloud rendering engines to handle millions of points. With these software advances, you can completely avoid the seemingly endless loading and processing when dealing with huge point cloud files, along with the potential for computer crashing.
Experienced professional service providers can minimize your files by getting rid of overlapping or erroneous scan data. Because each point cloud is georeferenced, data can be broken up into sections for ease of open, upload, and download, allowing you to work on areas of importance instead of loading an entire point cloud of an entire building. Some 3D laser scanning services also offer cloud storage for clients, reducing costs and complexity compared to the required systems and servers you would need in place to store and access the scan information in-house.
Companies like PrecisionPoint take it a step further and offer the ability to link in panoramic 360° views from cloud-hosted scan images directly into a Revit model. The cloud allows you to store your scan data on a remote server, but access your work locally and in-the-moment. This way, you can design with manageable amounts of data and collaborate with team members across the globe without having to house everything on your own servers.
4. MYTH: IT’S TOO DETAILED
REALITY: IT’S AS DETAILED AS YOU DESIRE
Yes, it’s true. Today’s 3D laser scanners are blurring the lines between a photo and a point cloud with more 3D realism. However, with the speed of the scanners and the experience of a scanning team,
a 3D scan is only as detailed as you want it to be. Professional laser scanning companies can hand over data from point cloud frameworks to full, digital 3D models — whatever you prefer. Basically, once point clouds are collected, they can be scaled down to the areas and materials you need to reflect in your design and construction plan.
5. MYTH: I CAN 3D MODEL FASTER FROM AS-BUILT PLANS
REALITY: POINT CLOUDS CAN BE IMPORTED INTO MOST BIM SOFTWARES AND ARE PERTINENT TO ACCURATE MODELING OF EXISTING CONDITIONS
Like most things, change is hard. And that rings true with 3D laser scanning as it relates to creating an accurate existing-conditions BIM. You might be able to model quickly, but likely not accurately or concisely. This is where point clouds play into detailed design. With your existing design software you may already own, a professional scanning service provider can convert the point cloud(s) into a readable file format that can be uploaded directly into your design modeling software for viewing and rendering in 3D with the confidence it’s correct at the time of capture.
Today’s point cloud modeling software offers feature extraction technologies that automate modeling for shapes like pipe, walls, floors, and structural steel. This data can easily be transformed into
BIM objects, eliminating human error. Ultimately, it offers a speed increases of 50% or more over conventional 3D modeling.
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