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If you find yourself in the position of having to shop around for 3D laser scanning services, we understand that it can be a daunting task. Company A charges $3,000 to scan a building, and Company B charges $10,000 to do the same thing. If you are new to 3D scanning, this can be especially confusing. We’d like to offer some insight on how 3D scanning costs are formulated as well as some examples of scans projects that we have done and their budgetary ranges.
On-site laser scanning is usually priced by the day and varies depending on the complexity of the job and the equipment and personnel that we must bring. The cost is primarily influenced by how large the area is that you are scanning, but also the level of detail needed. Occasionally, customers will request raw scans from the laser scanner, which is the lowest cost option plus travel.
After the laser scan is complete, we must transfer the scans to a computer workstation and do things like registration, alignment and optimization. This could be in preparation for CAD modeling, or you may elect to receive the registered point cloud to do the modeling yourself.
This step translates your point cloud into an as-built 3D CAD model in such formats such as Revit, CADworx, AutoCAD, Plant 3D, and Solidworks. Each project has unique modeling requirements, so we must have more information to provide a cost. But without knowing anything else, a rough rule of thumb is that the modeling cost is often equal or more to the scanning cost. So it is common to allocate half of the project budget to laser scanning and the other half to CAD work.
Travel costs are unavoidable sometimes depending on the location of your scan. Our team of 3D laser scanning experts will travel nationwide to service your laser scanning needs. We have scan personnel stationed at strategic locations throughout the country to help keep travel distance and costs to a minimum.
Level of Detail. The level of detail required in the laser scan and CAD model is the main driver behind cost besides coverage area. If your scan requires highly precise scanning to capture small and intricate details, the cost will be increased for both scanning and CAD modeling. An example of this would be when scanning a factory or plant, the time and effort it takes to scan and model all 3/4 inch conduit is much greater and if you only need to see process piping 2 inches in diameter and greater. This is the type of thing that can double project costs.
Accuracy. Recent model 3D laser scanners are very accurate. But if your accuracy requirements go beyond what is typical, special equipment and techniques are needed to achieve your required accuracy which increases costs.
Estimation Variability. Often, 3D laser scanning companies must estimate 3D scanning and 3D modeling time based on photos (and not always the best quality photos). This requires the us to make a judgement call based on prior experience, and actual costs may vary by 20 percent or more.
The best advice we have is that price isn’t always indicative of the best value, and it may be a risk going with the lowest bidder (unless it is us, of course!). You don’t want a laser scanning company willing to take shortcuts on quality. Such a company may use old or outdated equipment that has not been calibrated recently, or use unqualified or inexperienced people. You may receive deliverables prepared with unlicensed software. We recommend a clear project scope so that you get what you are expecting and avoid spending a lot of money and time on something that is unusable. There are exceptions to every rule of course, but we feel it is best to pay a little bit more to ensure good quality and your satisfaction.
We would like to offer some insights as to how much we charge to do certain types of 3D laser scanning projects. We are proud to be be able to be price-competitive in the industry without sacrificing quality. Perhaps you can find a project that is similar to yours, so that you can see where you may stand as far as 3D scanning costs go. Please remember that every project is unique and we would need to know the specific requirements of your project to give you an exact cost.
Large buildings involving multiple floors often take several days. Scanning may take place in separate areas that are combined later, and may involve tunnels, attics and ceiling/roof spaces.The color camera onboard the scanner captures all of the beautiful architecture, but adds scan time. A project like this may be in the $15,000 – $30,000 range.
Usually, plants are scanned in sections based on the area that is having work done. But it is entirely feasible to scan an entire plant if the budget allows. Plants and factories can be vastly different, and project scope requirements range from very small to massive. Therefore, costs to scan industrial plants vary widely between $5,000 and up to $100,000 or more.
Aircraft scanning time and number of scans is greatly dependent on size. Another factor is how glossy the paint is. A 747 is a much bigger job than a Cessna 182. These projects tend to run in the $5,000 – $15,000 range depending on output format. Lowest cost would be the scan point cloud, with a cleaned STL in the middle and a CAD model at the top.
This type of scan usually doesn’t take very long onsite, depending on the size of the floor. Typical project cost will be in the $3-5K range. You receive a beautiful color map depicting floor flatness, plus a more analytical report with callouts showing exact values at areas of interest.
Go with the 3D laser scanning company who knows how to do it right.