Introduction to 3D Laser Scanning and Digital Modeling
3D laser scanning is a non-destructive technology that is used to scan physical objects using a laser scanner and subsequently create a 3D digital model from the collected data. 3D laser scanners emit laser rays, due to which the actual data of the object and the surrounding environment, such as shape, size, and color, is captured. The data collected by the laser scanner is in the form of points. A cluster of such points, known as a point cloud, is then converted into an as-built model of the object.
The timeline of Laser Scanning Technology
It was first invented in the year 1960. It used lights, cameras, and projectors to gather information about the objects. Due to equipment limitations, scanning objects then required a significant amount of time and effort. After 1985, they were replaced by scanners that could capture a given surface using white light, lasers, and shadowing. Later in the decade of the 90s, the technology and the equipment got more advanced and became commercially available during the late 90s.
3D Laser Scanning for the Construction Industry
In the late 90s, the construction industry started adopting the technology for scanning various types of civil structures. In the early days, reality capture was not very popular among construction professionals due to reasons like high costs. But with the passage of time, the scanners turned out to be more efficient, more accurate, and more cost-effective. Due to these reasons, the use of point cloud scanning technology in the construction industry showed significant growth.
Large construction firms have been using this technology for years in areas ranging from building design & renovations to infrastructure projects and historical preservation. The technology is even used for surveying purposes in construction. It became popular due to its ability to capture the actual data of the building as well as the surrounding environment for the creation of a 3D model. It also helps in minimizing labor, saving time, and reducing the project risk.
In the last few years, it has been observed that scan-to-BIM technology is used quite often on various types of construction projects. The cost of it is approximately 10 to 15 % higher than the traditional surveying methods. On the other hand, it consumes almost 50 % less time than conventional surveying techniques. Scan-to-BIM technology benefits construction projects with highly accurate and precise results which may not be possible with traditional surveying techniques. It scans the structures as well as the surroundings giving actual data on the condition of structures as well as the surroundings.
Key points about the Improving Laser Scanning Technology:
- Enhanced Accuracy
3D laser scanning provides highly accurate measurements, surpassing other surveying techniques. It can capture intricate details and map surfaces with precision. However, studies do highlight that the accuracy of measurements from laser scanning could be improved by 75% with ML models. With the automation trend taking over every profession, laser scanning would not be left untouched for sure.
Over the years, the cost of 3D scanner tools has significantly decreased. Even consumer-grade 3D scanners are now available at low pricing ranges, making the technology more accessible to smaller construction projects. Following the principle of technological development, laser scanners in the future are expected to get cheaper and handier plus more deployable in developing economies.
3D laser scanning is no longer limited to large-scale projects; it has become accessible to smaller construction and engineering firms. It is also increasingly used in interior design in combination with AR/VR technologies, allowing for detailed virtual walkthroughs of completed buildings. The concept of digital twinning the properties would further propel the usage of scanners in the private sector.
4. Growing Expertise
A growing reliance on 3D laser scanning for surveying and property renovation needs is increasing the number of people gaining experience in using this technology. This contributes to a more skilled workforce in the construction industry, specifically in on-site laser scanning deployment and point cloud to BIM conversion.
5. Reduced Reliance on Third-Party Surveyors
3D laser scanning reduces the need for third-party surveyors. It can be performed quickly with fewer personnel and eliminates the need for costly equipment maintenance and operation. Also, with portable laser scanners and drone scanning, the need of outsourcing laser scanning vendors would be minimal, and that too operations could be handled remotely.
Suggested Reading:- Top 7 Interesting Facts about 3D Laser Scanning Survey
What technologies associated with laser scanners will be prevalent in the future:
On-site laser scanning
Traditional LiDAR scanners are transitioning from static devices to mobile scanning solutions, utilizing SLAM technology for mapping and navigation in unknown environments. Drones are increasingly used for scanning, contributing to 3D and image data collection for engineering, urban planning, and scientific applications.
Point cloud to data conversion
Cloud-based processing and direct data uploads are expected to manage growing 3D point cloud data, with advances in point cloud algorithms enhancing collaboration and speed. Multimodal scans in combination with machine learning would be able to produce more precise and accurate models with large point cloud data sets.
Further applications with laser scanning
Early adoption of SLAM technology would be more evident in the future due to affordability and regulatory fewer restrictions. Multimodal scanning approaches and AR/VR developments are more exciting for greater adoption. It is totally a direct application by which Professionals should be able to visualize and learn AEC development through AR/VR integration with VDC.
Summarizing the write-up, laser scanning technology is advancing rapidly, with a focus on making it more accessible and versatile across industries. It is changing how scanning is performed and how data is managed, offering new possibilities in engineering, construction, and beyond.