The 3D Laser Scanner (as the name suggests) sends out a laser beam which then reflects and returns to the scanners sensor. The scanner then uses its on-board computer to work out where in space the return came from and creates an X, Y, Z coordinate relative to the centre of the scanner for each return. The Scanner is capable of doing this up to 1,000,000 times a second. The result of this scanning process is a Point Cloud.
Check the Helpful Links section on this page for the Leica promotional videos on how it all works.
That said, some items you might think would not get a return, like a car paint job or stainless steel will often give a return, just not from every angle, so may require some additional scans to get enough information.
As well as recording an X,Y,Z coordinate for each return to the scanners sensor, the scanner also records an intensity of the returned light. When put into the registration software this return intensity value is used to display either a grey scale or RGB gradient colour values for each point. Most software is capable of displaying these colour values and as such it is still very easy to make out everything in the point cloud.
Below are some examples of what that can look like.
If the job only requires the locations of floors walls and ceilings, in most cases that will require 1 scan per room and typically one in the doorway between rooms depending on the site layout and scanning process used.
If the job requires that equipment and structure be captured than that could mean atleast 2 scans per room and considerably more depending on the equipment layout and level of detail that needs to be captured. as a rule of thumb 4-8 scans can capture most rooms with quite complex equipment layouts.
If there is a requirement to use software to extract 3d solid data from the point cloud using automated functions, more scans may be required in order to have enough information in the point cloud for the software to work.
1) The number of scans to be done
2) Is colour scan data required?
3) The difficulty of getting those scans done. Eg scans on top of platforms with limited access or if it is difficult to traverse between scan locations.
4) The site location. E.g. local to Brisbane, Interstate, International
Most scan jobs of small areas like offices, houses and partial production facilities cost between $1000 and $2500 +GST.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, here is a couple of thousand words;
Truck that was parked in the middle of a scan job.
Car Parked near by a scan location.
Construction Fence and Brick Column.
Pump and Pipes.
Pump and Pipes 2.
1) The number of scans in the point cloud
2) Was the scan done inside or outside
3) The amount of detail in the line of site of the scanner
4) The scan settings used
The average job seems to be between 10 and 30 gigabites for the complete point cloud without any form of reduction of detail. However this can be reduced to as little are 0.5 – 2 gigabites once all excess data has been stripped from the point cloud.
While these file sizes sound massive and likely to be unmanageable when compared to “normal” file sizes like office documents and even other 3D modelling files, most 3D drafting and modelling programs have been updated to deal easily with these files. As a result in most cases the file size of the point cloud isn’t a consideration for anything other than hard drive space.
The use and management of these files is something Complete 3D Concepts will work closely with you to optimise for best practices when you use our scanning services.
We found this explanation online and we think it is brilliant!
“From Leica Geoisystems HDS Software Lab in San Ramon, California
For point reduction during unify it has been described to me by the engineer who originally design it that if you say you want 2mm density max, it logically divides the entire scene into 2mm cubes. Then it picks the one point within each cube, closest to the center of the cube and deletes all others.
Therefore you will not be guaranteed an even distribution of points. You will not have any guarantee of distance between any 2 points. But overall, per 2mm cube you will have only one point.
Of course any 2 points could each be the only point in their respective cubes and they may be very near coincident faces of the cube and actually only be 0.00000001 mm apart and still each qualify to remain in the final set.
So no super complex algorithm. Simply make cubes of a specific size and pick the best point in each cube, delete the rest.”
Below is a list of some of the leading 3D software on the market and (that we know of so far) the point cloud file formats they can use/import.
Autodesk Recap – Recap .RCP & .RCS files, Leica .PTX, .PTS, .PTG & .PRJ files, Faro .FLS, .FWS, .ISPRJ & .XYB files, Lidar .LAS files, Zoller & Frolich .ZFS & .ZFPRJ files, Topcon .CL3 & .CLR files, Riegl .RDS files, Autodesk Point Could files .PCG and .E57, .XYZ, .TXT & .ASC Point Cloud files.
Autodesk AutoCAD – Recap files RCP & RCS
Autodesk Revit – Recap files RCP & RCS
Autodesk 3DS Max – Recap files RCP & RCS
(Most Autodesk products can attach a Recap .RCP or .RCS file.)
Archicad – E57 & XYZ
Vectorworks – Leica .PTS files, Lidar .LAS files and .E57 & .XYZ Point Cloud files.
Sketchup (with the UNDET4SketchUp addon) – Leica .PTS files, Faro .FLS & .FWS files, Topcon .CL3 & .CLR files, Zoller & Frolich .ZFS files, Lidar .LAS files, and .E57, .XYZ, .ASC, .FPR, .LSPROJ & .RSP Point Cloud files.
SolidWorks – .XYZ, .TXT & .ASC
If you do not see your software here it does not necessarily mean it will not work with point cloud data, it just means we have not come across it yet. We are happy to help as much as we are able to, so if you have any doubts, feel free to get in touch at any time.
After the initial day in your office, we will be available to answer any questions and assist with any issues as best we can via the phone, web conferencing or another visit to the office if required. This will mean that you should be up and running with point cloud data on the first day of receiving it, and not have any major hold ups on your first project using point cloud data.
After your first project we will allow up to 4hrs on the second project free of charge for assistance if required in your office and additional phone support as needed thereafter.
NOTE: This service is provided at no additional cost on the first project for businesses in South East Queensland. If this service is required for businesses outside of South East Queensland additional costs will be incurred for travel expenses only.
- Leica Laser Scanning: Chapter 1 of 3 – The Basics
A 6 minute overview video of 3D laser scanning includes film footage of its use in the field for scene capture and in the office for processing laser scans into deliverables
- Leica Laser Scanning: Chapter 2 of 3 – How It All Works
An 8:40 minute video outlining how the scanner works and the features of the scanner and software
- Leica Laser scanning: Chapter 3 of 3 – Simple Projects and Complex Projects
This 8:37 min video describes simple and complex laser scanning projects and how the technology is applied for each
- Working with Point Clouds in Autodesk Recap – Part 1
12:23 min video.
This tutorial covers;
• The importance of keeping Recap up to date.
• The current process of downloading and installing the latest version.
• The way the professional and free versions work after being installed.
• The user interface on the home screen of Recap
• The settings dialog box
• The process of setting up and opening both RCP and RCS files.
• The dangers of using save as..
- Working with Point clouds in Autodesk Recap – Part 2
11:53 min video
This tutorial covers;
• The process of importing non-native file formats into Recap.
• Some of the differences in file formats.
• Some things to be aware of when importing files
- Working with Point Clouds in Autodesk Recap – Part 3
21:37 min video
This tutorial covers;
• Navigation of the point cloud.
• The user interface when working with point clouds.
- Working with Point Clouds in Autodesk Recap – Part 4
16:00 min video
This tutorial covers;
• preparing the point cloud for use in AutoCAD and Inventor.
- ARCHICAD 19 New Features – Point Cloud – Importing Point Cloud Data
2:07 min video. In this video clip you can discover the process of importing Point Cloud files to ARCHICAD by using a dedicated, new command for Point Cloud import. ARCHICAD 19 supports the E57 and XYZ Point Cloud file formats.
- Point Cloud – Vectorworks 2016 Preview
3:26 min video showing how to import and work with point clouds in Vectorworks.
- Undet4SketchUp Overview – Pointclouds in SketchUp
15:05 min video. This video is an overview of Undet4SketchUp V1.0 – an extension for Trimble SketchUp Pro.
Undet4SketchUp V1.0 offers a unique opportunity to use any pointcloud directly in SketchUp Pro and provides tools for efficient pointcloud visibility and colouring management. Download free trial from their website: Unidet
- Using Point Cloud data in SolidWorks: Scan to 3D
5:57 min video. SolidWorks Premium allows you to take raw point cloud or mesh data directly from a 3D Scanner and use the data to create a SolidWorks model from it. It is an easy to use wizard and an example of all the steps is shown in the video.