Accurate measurements have always been a cruscial element in the design process, from intitial design studies through final construction documents. This is especially true for as-built conditions that require a thorough building survey before design work commences. In the past, measurements were typically taken with a tape measure, paper and pencil. 3D laser scanning provides a better way to quickly and accurately capture as-built conditions for building documentation.

3D laser scanning captures as-built conditions rapidly and precisely. Once assembled, the scanned images reveal building relationships in ways difficult to imagine, let alone measure. Our desire is to provide detailed spatial information to architects, design professionals, engineers, and builders. Most of the world has already been built, but is poorly documented. 3D imaging provides the best foundation for understanding what you want to change.

Laser scanning is essentially the swift capture of three-dimensional information reflected from an object or surface to a light sensor. It creates a 3D construct called a “point cloud” made from multiple scans that have been unified through a process of “registration”. Similar to a camera, a laser scanner is a “line of sight” device: it sees what the viewer observes -it cannot see through objects. Dark, shiny surfaces do not scan as well as lighter, non-reflective materials.

Once the point cloud data is consolidated, traditional deliverables; 2d plans, elevations, and sections can be readily extracted, or used for fly-throughs and contextual purposes. While 3D modeling (BIM) is simplified using the point cloud data as the initial reference, the point cloud by itself can serve this purpose, saving many hours of digital model building.

Precise measurements can be taken between individual scan points, edges, and planes. Laser scanning reveals deformation from poor construction or the cumulative effects of time. After the scans are registered, a three dimensional database is established that can be used throughout the building’s lifecycle, or to aid in reconstruction should damage occur in the future.

Additionally, remarkably sharp and descriptive photographic data is fused with the point cloud and can be easily viewed as dynamic panoramas. These images are dimensionable and can be annotated in most cases.