understanding the cost of 3d scanning services

breaking down price Factors for 3d scanning services

If you find yourself in the position of having to shop around for 3D 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 scan the very same building. 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 associated cost. 

scanning

On-site 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 scanner, in which case this would be the final cost, plus travel. 

$1,500 - $2,250 /Day

Processing and registration

After scanning 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 scans directly. 

Add $500-$1,000 /day

3D modeling and CAD

This step translates your point cloud into a 3D CAD model in such formats such as Revit, CADworx, AutoCAD, Plant 3D, and Solidworks. Also possible are generic formats such as DWG, DXF, STP and more. 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 modeling and CAD. 

add $125/hr

travel

Travel costs are sometimes unavoidable depending on the location of your scan

add $0 to $1,500

Other factors that affect cost

Level of Detail. Level of Detail, or LOD, 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, and special equipment and techniques are needed to achieve your required accuracy, additional costs will be incurred. 

Estimation Variability. Often, 3D 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. 


price isn't everything

The best advice we have for our customers 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 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. 

3d scanning projects and their approximate cost

We would like to offer some insights as to how much we charge to do certain types of 3D scanning projects. We are proud to be reliably cheaper than the bigger 3D technology companies (often by a factor of 2), yet not sacrifice 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. Remember, each project was unique and needed specific accommodations to be successful. We provided the details so you would be able to see how the factors above play a role into pricing. 

Example projects and their approximate cost

Oklahoma state capitol

This large project involved scanning within many areas inside the Oklahoma State Capitol. The customer required an Autodesk Recap project for use as an existing conditions reference. They brought the point clouds into Revit and compared it against their design for remodeling the facility. $30,000.  

Geothermal power plant

This plant was scanned in 3 days and an as-built CAD model was created. The model included major structural steel and piping 2 inches and up and involved 100 man hours to model. The cost for this project was $19,000. 

Industrial burners and piping

We spent two days on-site scanning the burners at this power plant. Subsequently, 40 man hours were spent creating a CAD model. Travel to the site, 3 days of on-site work, and 30 man hours of modeling resulted in a cost in the $10K range.

360 degree panoramic images

This complex battery plant required 6 days of onsite scanning and 200 hours of modeling for a total cost of $38,000. 

3-story hotel exterior

The exterior of this hotel was captured by our high speed long range scanner in one day of scanning. We provided a Revit model of the exterior to the customer for $4,750. 

aircraft

This part was scanned and surfaced to provide a cleaned STL file to be used in flow simulation for $7,500.

Fedex shipping hub

5 miles of conveyor were scanned for purposes of installing a new fire system. We provided five separate Autodesk ReCap projects that were aligned by survey control. The cost was on the order of $29,000.

scan to dwg

Floorplans & Elevation drawings

If your building is missing floorplans, a fast way to obtain them is to utilize on-site 3D laser scanning.  The cost of projects like this varies based on size and complexity of the structure. This example here would have been around $2,500 for the initial scan and $500 for the CAD drawing.

C130 Aircraft Exterior

This steel building project had been cancelled and abandoned for some time, and the new owners were going to resume the project. They didn’t know what condition it was in, so 3D laser scanning was used to get an accurate survey of the facility. 5 days onsite plus registration costs came to $13,000. 

3d scan facade

Storefront Scan

We scanned this small section of street for the owner of an architecture firm in Tulsa. The customer wanted a dimensionally accurate image that could be traced over in AutoCAD. A half-day of on-site 3D laser scanning and a few hours of processing is all it took to deliver this color orthophoto in DWG format for around $1,500

Floor flatness scan

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. 

Point clouds

If your company has the ability to use raw point clouds, you are in a position to obtain a lot of value from 3D scanning services. Just 1 day of scanning at $1,750 per day can yield up to 60 or more scans, depending on the circumstances. This gets you an enormous amount of scan data to work with. We can do the scan registration for an additional $500-1000, or you can do it yourself and save even more money.

contact us today to get a cost estimate for your project!

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