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What is 3D Laser Scanning?
3D Laser scanning is a non-destructive technology that is used to capture the spatial geometry of the structure in the form of a point cloud in order to develop accurate multi-dimensional digital representations of the built asset.
It captures the finest geographical details with the precision of the targeted points of the structure regardless of its surface features or dimensions. 3D laser scanning also facilitates the construction industry with accurate topographical data of the land/contour as it is used as a method for surveying.
The 3D laser scanning technology works on LiDAR technology (Light Detection and Ranging) ; hence it is also referred to as LiDAR scanning. The high-definition LiDAR scanner, targeted to a point, throws out laser rays in order to capture the structure’s geometry. The rays emitted from the 3D scanner reflects back to the scanner after a collision with the surface.
The distance travelled by the laser rays is known as the time of flight. The reflected rays come back to the scanner, loaded with accurate information of the physical geometry. The BIM engineers use the point cloud data for the development of a detailed three-dimensional model of the facility.
How Is Laser Scanning Performed On-site?
Let’s check out the detailed step-wise procedure of 3D laser scanning given below: –
Gathering Site information – Architects and engineers collaboratively work with the clients to understand their project scope in order to provide optimal solutions based on their requirements and project specifications. The project scope is listed down in detail to ensure all the points are covered.
On-Site Setup – The laser scanning experts carry a Leica laser scanner, a tripod, backup batteries, an instruction manual and an iPad. The Team firstly inspects the conditions on-site, to ensure and deliver quality scans.
This process includes checking on-site obstacles, any irregular movement that can affect the scans and planning the arbitrary scanner path to complete the process in the estimated time.
During the process, the iPad connects to the laser scanner through the BLK360 cyclone application that provides us with a database to capture the view and store it as a virtual file for post-processing.
Capturing points – Highly trained project managers efficiently scan each site with Leica laser scanners, capturing millions of data points. The scanner is navigated into different potential locations to trace the physical information.
Each point is tracked in a sequence to get the best-scanned results. All the scans are linked to create a monolithic structured product for post-processing. Leve
ls are checked in the captured model while scanning, which may differ if the scanner is not placed on a levelled surface as per the previous scan.
Point Cloud data conversion – Engineers register and process the point cloud, removing noise and setting the coordinate system to provide the most precise measurements. Providing such an amount of accuracy requires a thorough inspection of the captured points. Leica Cyclone 360 software is used to access, fix and convert the captured files.
If there are randomized issues, then the engineer rearranges the scene to align correctly through the vertical and horizontal axis. After all the model verification, the team runs a final QA/QC to make sure that the engineers deliver a highly accurate product. The virtual captured files are then converted into point cloud format.
3D Model Generation – The engineers take over the Point cloud file to generate 2D and 3D deliverables as per the demands of the project, which includes the Level
of Development (LOD) and Construction Information Building Information Exchange (COBie) Facility Management data generation requirement, using Autodesk REVIT software for modeling.
High Definition Scanning (3D Laser Scanning) Benefits
The LiDAR 3D scanning technology has several benefits over the traditional methods, that the construction industry can leverage. Let’s explore the benefits of 3D laser scanning for construction.
- The 3D scanners capture accurate spatial data of the scanned structure with utmost precision.
- It facilitates the architects and engineers with enhanced planning and design of the construction project.
- The point cloud scanning process allows the professionals to perform scans and capture geometries from a safe spot, eliminating the need to access the risky areas for taking measurements.
- The point cloud data provides the as-is information of the construction project for hassle-free maintenance and facility management operations of the project.
- 3D laser scanning and as-builts drawings in construction helps civil engineers and architects with required data for renovation and retrofitting of the structures.
- The reality capture technology can perform the scans usually faster than the traditional methods, with utmost accuracy, providing the scan results at a faster rate.
- It assists construction owners to save the overall cost of the construction project.
- The detailed 3D model of the structure developed using the point cloud scanning facilitates a well-optimized workflow for construction activities.
- Disadvantages of LiDAR Technology
Let’s check out the disadvantages of 3D LiDAR scanning technology for the construction, below: –
- It is way more expensive than the traditional survey instruments, resulting in an increased budget.
- Reality capture requires proper training to operate and scan the objects.
- The scanners cannot capture the data of hidden geometries as the laser cannot go through the surface for acquiring spatial data.
Applications of Laser Scanning in Construction Industry
Laser scanning is widely used in the architecture, engineering and construction industries. It has several applications that highly benefit the building industry. Architectural engineers and construction professionals are incorporating Building Information Modeling and drone technologies to capture the real-world environment. Let us explore the applications of laser scanning technology.
- 3D Modeling and construction designing
- Reverse Engineering
- Planning and construction management
- Accurate surveying of various types of topography
- Maintenance and facility management of the buildings
- Retrofitting and renovation of the heritage sites
The construction engineering business has been shifting towards digitization in order to harness the benefits of digital technologies such as digital twinning and 3D laser scanning.
The point cloud scanning technology has been a true saviour for the architecture, engineering and construction business. Though digital scanning technology has some demerits, the benefits of the technology outweigh the negatives.
Along with several benefits such as cost-efficacy, time-efficacy, accuracy and precision, 3D scanning has a suite of applications for the construction and architecture business. The AEC industry has started adopting digital technologies and leveraging their benefits for the betterment and quality-assured outcomes.
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