Your iPhone or Android – that you carry in your pocket – is a more powerful, more versatile computer than the massive mainframes of 1975. New, useful technologies advance rapidly. 3D laser scanning fits the pattern. Six years ago, a particular laser scanning project took seven months to complete. Two years ago, a similarly sized project was finished in 42 days.

Improvements in the speed and versatility of the scanning tools have reduced the cost and increased the usefulness of 3D laser scanning. For example, only a few years ago, scanning below 40°F or above 104°F was infeasible. We could not tackle projects in summer in Phoenix or in winter up North. Our newest scanner allows us to scan in locations as cold as -4°F and as hot as 125°F. Now cold storage facilities and hot machinery rooms can be scanned while in operation, saving time and money.

And not long ago, we could not scan in dirty, dusty, or humid conditions. Although we still cannot scan in fog, rain, or heavy snow, the new scanner – rated IP54 – can operate in grain elevators and other such dusty locations.

Accuracy, range, and speed are hallmarks of scanning. Not long ago, we could not scan the façade of a 300-foot tall building from ground level. The scanner would not maintain sufficient accuracy at that distance. Today, our new scanner can maintain +/- 1.2 mm accuracy farther than 800 feet. Accuracy, reliability, and functionality have all been improved by changes in the technology such as enhanced algorithmic analysis of the reflected laser beam.  

In a typical scanning project, on-site scanning is only about half of the effort. But, new technology in the software can make the post processing faster and more accurate. Registration is the first task after the on-site work is complete. Registration combines the data from all the scanner’s positions into one coordinate system. There is room for error here because all the measurements must be aligned in three dimensions and possibly aligned to a master coordinate system, such as a state plane. New functions in the scanner make registration faster and more accurate.

Today, properly applied to remodeling work, 3D laser scanning and related technologies can reduce construction cost by 6%. Expect accelerating change to continue.

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