3D Laser Scanning Technology Any architect or engineer can tell you that poor as-built data will inevitably lead to poor retrofit design. The consequences of a poor design often entail higher project costs, missed deadlines and operation inadequacies, not to mention potential safety issues. With the importance of precision in mind, a relatively new technology is taking the architectural, engineering and surveying industries by storm. Although 3D Laser Technology has been around for decades, the ability to store the data collected is somewhat novel. In its most basic terms, 3D Laser Scanning, or High Definition Surveying, is the creation of a digital three-dimensional representation of a physical object’s exact shape and size. This non-contact, non-destructive technology captures the shape and size of physical objects through the use of laser light along the surface of an object, then creates “point clouds” of data. Best of all, this data can be imported into a wide variety of design software. The applications for this technology are far-reaching, and some believe that we’ve only scratched the surface with regard to what 3D scanning can do. Trent Turk, L.S., a Principal and the Chief Executive Officer for GeoSurvey, Ltd. in Marietta, Georgia, introduced 3D Laser Scanning Technology to his company’s list of services earlier this year. Typically, an architectural firm may have had to study old blueprints, take measurements and snap photos of as-built spaces, and spend time entering their measurements of existing features into their computer-aided design (CAD) software before they even begin the design phase. 3D Laser Scanning Technology provides a detailed and accurate three-dimensional, as-built model from which to work in a fraction of the time that it would have taken using conventional methods – and the architect may never even need to set foot at the site. “Everywhere we look, there are new ideas for this technology’s usage – things our company didn’t anticipate using it for,” explained Turk. “For instance, in addition to applications such as renovation of historic structures, measurement of buildings, bridges, structures and the like, we can very quickly check to see if buildings are ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)-accessible by measuring slopes and identifying where the problem areas might be. And, it’s not just for buildings. We are demonstrating this new technology to Georgia Power on one of its substations, as well as to the Cobb County-Marietta Water Authority on one of its pipe galleries.” What was a $70,000 investment for the Faro Focus X330 laser scanner by Faro Technologies and accompanying Faro Scene and Autodesk ReCap software – not to mention the investment of time spent learning how to use it – is quickly paying off for GeoSurvey. The 3D Laser Scanning Technology has already been used on 10 projects, with two more lined up and several more prospective projects on the horizon. Among those projects, GeoSurvey has been contracted by Von Maur to survey its newest location at the Mall of Georgia. The retail giant is assuming the space of a vacant department store, but did not have the complete plans from which to work. The architects wished to capture every floor scene. The model derived from GeoSurvey’s 3D scan of the space will serve as the foundation for their design work. “While some companies may have sticker shock with regard to the cost of 3D Laser Scanning services at first, it’s basically a ‘wash’ when they consider the costs of the man-hours that are diverted to the survey stage of the project,” said Turk. “A firm can have their architects working on other projects, while we capture the data they’ll need to begin the design phase. Depending on the project, we could save them days or even weeks, as well as provide them with very rich as-built data that can’t be obtained by any other method.”
Published by American Council of Engineering Companies of Georgia. View All Articles.
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