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Laser-scanning-in construction

Laser scanning in buildings, use cases and how to implement this powerful technology

Laser scanning in constructions is a process of detecting the details of existing buildings with laser light. Learn about use cases and how to implement this powerful technology as an integrated workflow

Traditionally, tape gauges, laser gauges or even total stations – if the environment is very complex – are used to document and acquire a built environment.

These tools, although very common, require many hours of work, both in the field and in the office and are also often inaccurate, generating the loss of many important data.

To overcome these problems, laser scanning is spreading in the AEC sector. This is an extremely accurate method of creating 3D representations, called point clouds, of an existing building or construction site.

If you also want to take advantage of the potential of the laser scanning process in your construction projects, I recommend that you continue reading this article and immediately download a free point cloud to BIM software that will be essential to transform the 3D point cloud obtained with the laser scanner into a BIM model rich in information that will make your design more efficient.

What is 3D laser scanning?

3D laser scanning, also called high-definition surveying (HDS), is a process of capturing and mapping the surrounding reality using laser beams.

The laser scanner works quite simply: it emits a laser beam on the objects to be analyzed, these objects reflect the beam back towards the scanner and provide the geometry that is interpreted in 3D data.

It is thus possible to generate the cloud of points in scale of the object of study.

There are three different types of laser scanners:

  • by time of flight (TOF): the distance from the end point is determined by measuring the time necessary for the emitted light to be reflected on the laser sensor;
  • by phase difference: the distance from the end point is determined by comparing the phase difference between the emitted wave and the received wave;
  • by triangulation: it is based on the acquisition by an IR sensor, capable of projecting up to 300,000 rays 60 times per second, of a pattern of infrared points in a given space.
Laser scanning nelle costruzioni | immagine di un laser scanner

Laser scanning in constructions | image of a laser scanner

What is 3D laser scanning in construction?

3D laser scanning is used in the construction industry to acquire data and details of a building, a building or a work within a construction site; it is also a reliable method for the detection of complex surfaces and geometries.

Compared to the other methods that detect the individual points one at a time, the laser scanner detects with maximum precision all the details of any construction: all the points are characterised by spatial coordinates and the value of the reflectance of the materials, also allowing the identification of the characteristic colour and obtaining a very realistic rendering of the cloud itself.

You can also convert data to complete models, plants, or charts using appropriate software.

How is laser scanning used in construction?

Laser scanning can be used for different building operations:

  • new-build interventions: the use of laser scanning is the starting point for any type of design. Properly detecting the conditions of the site directs engineers, architects and contractors in the right design direction. Nowadays, more and more technicians use Scan to BIM software to start the process of designing and building a construction project;
  • building renovation interventions: to proceed with demolitions, additions or renovations there is nothing better than working on a complete model that represents the construction as itis: and what faster and more accurate way to capture the real conditions if not through a laser scanner? When working on redevelopment projects it is often very difficult to find the original construction or maintenance documents, so using laser scanning it is possible to document and view the current conditions of a construction, generate the point cloud and convert it with point cloud to BIM software into an operational and functional as-built BIM model;
  • building coordination interventions: to avoid conflicts and improve coordination between the various systems of a construction, structural, electrical, hydraulic, HVAC, the aid of laser scanning is useful. The data can in fact be shared between the various parties involved and stored in a common database. By scanning the entire construction site during the execution phase, it is possible to keep track of the progress achieved and allow the control of what has been achieved by comparing it with the original project. In addition, the scanning of all the various components, carried out as they are installed, allows a real-time recording of all the inserted elements and the exact definition of their positioning.

Laser scanning: 3 tips to start using it right away

You can start using the laser scanning process right away by following these 3 simple tips:

  1. become familiar with the technology: to ensure that technicians use this technology properly, it is not enough to be trained but it is necessary to do a lot of practice and it is better to start right away;
  2. integrates laser scanning with BIM software: 3D laser scanning in construction is particularly useful to obtain accurate data with which to create the three-dimensional information model of a construction or a site;
  3. try it out for yourself: download the free trial version of a point cloud to BIM software and recreate the BIM model of a built asset from a point cloud cluster.