July 2018

The modern, high-tech solution for surveying objects and environments in a detailed, cost-effective manner.

3D laser scanning offers a multitude of advantages over conventional survey and measurement practices.  Above all, it is the rapid speed and comprehensiveness of data capture that gives rise to the many other benefits of 3D laser scanning. 3D scanning allows surveys to be carried out with reduced HSE risk, cost and time savings and non-contact measurement. This, amongst other benefits, makes the 3D Laser Scanner a versatile and essential tool in the surveyor’s arsenal.

1st Horizon 3D Laser Scan1ST HORIZON 3D Surveyor with Laser Scanner.

What is 3D laser scanning?

In the survey and measurement industry, few disciplines are quite as sophisticated and fast-advancing as 3D Laser Scanning. Using one primary tool (the terrestrial 3D laser scanner) 3D surveyors can acquire substantial amounts of data in a cost effective, safe and incredibly detailed manner. Such data can also be captured in a remarkably short time period, but…. what exactly is 3D laser scanning, and why has it become such a sought after and popular discipline within the surveying and measurement industry?

3D Laser scanning is quite simply a non-contact and non-invasive way of capturing physical objects in a chosen environment by utilising laser light emitted by a 3D laser scanner. It works by recording angles and distances through analysis of returned laser light signals. Each returned signal creates a “point” in 3D space. The term used for a large volume of these points is a “pointcloud”.

Streetscape - 1st Horizon 3D Laser Scanning3D Pointcloud Render.


Through the scanning process literally millions of 3D points are captured within seconds and a 3D pointcloud is created. The pointcloud from each scan is used to form an accurate 3D representation of the site or object that has been captured. The scan data is commonly read into data registration software, where multiple scans can be seamlessly stitched together into a single unified pointcloud data set.

All data, once unified, can be delivered to the client in this format. In addition to this, Building Information Modelling (BIM) models can be created to enhance the data output, in the form of parametric digital models with 4D capability. Other outputs include 2D drawings, 3D CAD models, animations, 360-degree imagery and mesh models.

Theatre - 1st Horizon CAD / BIM3D BIM Render.

What are the primary advantages of 3D Laser Scanning?

1.  Rapid measurement

The rapid speed of data capture, from a 3D laser scanner, allows millions of data points to be recorded in seconds. This ensures that large environments can be surveyed in a short timescale and makes 3D surveying ideal for work on particularly time-sensitive projects, when a quick turnaround is vital. The rapid nature of the 3D measurement process greatly reduces man-hours required on site as well as any shutdown of facilities and overall disruption. This innate speed and flexibility is of huge benefit to the measurement industry and it is one of the reasons that 3D laser scanning is become more and more widely utilised.

2.  Reduced HSE risk

The remote nature of documentation from the 3D scanner is ideal for hazardous or hard-to-reach areas. 3D scanners allow surveyors to capture environments without the need to physically access the area. This reduces the requirement for costly and laborious health and safety measures and ensures the safety of 3D surveyors.

1st Horizon 3D Laser ScanA 1ST HORIZON 3D Survey of a dilapidated building.

3.  Non-contact data capture

The non-contact and non-invasive nature of 3D laser scanning makes it ideal for sensitive objects or environments. Items that need to be preserved in the heritage or cultural sector, that may need to be reproduced from the data acquired with a 3D survey, can be scanned with minimal to no physical interaction. This ensures that damage, disruption and displacement of sensitive items in situ is an almost non-existent risk.

4.  Detailed documentation

The 3D data captured through the scanning process is so comprehensive, that almost every detail is recorded. The chance of any omission is hugely reduced, with a very small risk of error. This vast level of detail ordinarily eliminates entirely, the requirement to re-visit site on the basis that measurements we missed during the survey process. The detailed documentation process also allows 3D surveyors (and indeed end clients) to visit sites virtually via pointcloud walk-throughs or interactive 360 image viewers. This again helps to eliminate the need to “actually” visit site when virtual visits are so realistic and easy to facilitate.

5.  Cost & time savings

Cost and time savings gained by 3D laser surveying through the rapid nature of data capture and reduced HSE risk are passed on to the client. This is achieved through fewer man-hours on site, minimal disruption and downtime of facilities, environments and the reduction of HSE preventative measures required.

1ST HORIZON provides complete 3D Laser Scanning solutions delivered by our expert surveyors, comprising of detailed documentation, rapid measurement and non-contact data capture. Find out more about a 1ST HORIZON 3D Laser Scan Survey here.

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