What is laser scanning

What is laser scanning? Also known as 3D laser imaging, high definition surveying, or 3D laser surveying, or 3D laser scanning is very simple in principle. A laser scanner is mounted on a tripod next to the area to be scanned. The scanner fires a laser and measures the time it takes for the laser to be reflected back, with which it can calculate the distance from the reflected point. The scanner systematically sweeps the room with these measurements until it has a complete picture of the 3D space round it. This collection of measurements is called a point cloud, and is the data set from which we can extract valuable information and 3D models.

What are the different types of laser scaning? Laser scanning can be classified into several types including aerial (or airborne), terrestrial, mobile, desktop (or benchtop), and hand scanning. Aerial scanning is performed from airplanes or helicopters and usually involves mapping and terrain surveys over a large area. Terrestrial scanning is a broad category involving capture of accurate 3D data for a wide variety of applications such as industrial as-builts, mining, archaeology, and surveying. Mobile scanners are designed to operate from moving vehicles. Desktop (or benchtop) scanners are designed to accurately capture smaller objects for inspection, replication, and other purposes. Handheld scanners acquire 3D data when the operator sweeps it over an object in a manner similar to spray painting.

What software is used for processing 3d laser scanning data? There are many different software packages that can manipulate point clouds. The popular ones include Pointools, Cyclone, Geomagic, PolyWorks, and Rapidform. There are also plug-ins for point cloud manipulation available to popular 3D CAD and modeling software such as AutoCAD and Google Sketchup.

Who manufactures laser scanners? Leading laser scanner manufacturers include FARO (Focus3D), Topcon (GLS-1500), Leica (ScanStation C5, ScanStation C10, HDS7000, HDS6200), Z+F (Imager 5010, Imager 5006h, Imager 5006EX), Surphaser (25HSX), Optech (ILRIS-3D), Reigl, and Creaform.

What is the laser scanning process?

1. Data Acquired via Laser Scanning
We conduct the 3d scan on site, capturing as many scans as necessary to fully cover the object(s) of interest.

2. Resulting Point Clouds Registered
Each scan appears as millions of points called a “point cloud”. These point clouds are “registered’ or stitched together to create a total 3D representation of the object(s).

3. Useful Information Extracted
Using various software tools, the point cloud data is converted into the desired deliverable format. This could be 3D CAD models, animations, 2D CAD drawings, or a print-to-3D ready model.

4. Result Delivered to Customer
The final result, whether it be a CAD model or animation, is delivered to the customer in a timely manner.

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