Webcast Q&A: Kick-Start Your CAD Workflow with 3D Scanning

Kick-Start Your CAD Workflow with 3D Scanning, Part 2: Laser-Scanning Hardware.
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Webcast Q&A: “Kick-Start Your CAD Workflow with 3D Scanning”
Sponsored by Cadalyst and Leica Geosystems

Following are questions posed by attendees of our webcast on April 25, 2013, and responses from Mike Harvey of Leica Geosystems. For more information, see the Leica Geosystems web site.

The webcast audio recording and PowerPoint presentation are available for download here.


What is the initial cost for a new user to get into 3D laser scanning — scanner, software, other costs, etc.?
As far as cost, there is a wide range of options available. You could get into scanning for as little as $65k and work your way all the way up to the $170k range. Talk to your local Leica Geosystems representative to get the solution that will best fit your needs.

We have a project with quite a few dark, inside locations. In addition the items to be scanned are painted black or covered in black gunk. How will the laser scanner react to dark areas or dark surfaces?
Black is typically the hardest item for any scanner to “see.” It will depend on how close you get to the surface. Our suggestion is to get a demo and try it out to make sure it will meet your needs.

I have worked with LFM scanning software. Can you explain your software’s advantages over LFM?
LFM works on a module basis whereas Leica Geosystems’ Cyclone does not. The main differences are options to work in different viewing modes in Cyclone, much higher ability to handle large databases, superior functionality, not to mention the overall solution is far less expensive.

Can you bring model objects from AutoCAD, Revit or other software?
There are ways to get models from those CAD packages into Cyclone. For Revit, you will need to send it through AutoCAD.

Please explain what visualizations are available without the Leica Cyclone PUBLISHER module?
Cyclone will work in an un-licensed mode called Viewer where you can zoom, pan, and rotate. You can take snapshots; and create movies and key plans, which enable TruSpace within Cyclone.

Can you compare the data this scanner collects with later data? I survey a lot of small municipal landfills, and would like to find a more accurate method of comparing volume from year to year.
Absolutely. I actually did several of these projects. Cyclone has methods to create volume calculations and visualizations between two TIN surfaces.

How does the scanning/modeling work in Revit?
The point cloud is opened in the Revit space with our CloudWorx plug-in. CloudWorx has some fitting tools, but you also have all of Revit's tools that interact with the point cloud since Revit can “see” the point cloud.

What format does the equipment database need to be in to link to a geotag?
It is an XML file for auto insertion of many geotags. I typically insert them in the Cyclone model space window where I can hyperlink the external file myself. It's the cautious surveyor in me.

Early on you spoke about 2D deliverables. Please show me why or how a point cloud is preferable to gathering conventional survey data for mapping.
I have your contact information and will alert your Leica Geosystems representative, who can contact you to show you the value. [For others, contact your representative directly. Contact information is available via the Contact Us link on the Leica Geosystems web site. Specify that you want  “Sales” assistance for “3D Laser Scanning (HDS).”] I can also speak from experience that scanning lowers field cost significantly, which always makes the boss happy.

I often do residential renovations where no plans are available and the owner wants to renovate. As an engineer, I have to find out where bearing lines are. Could I create scans outside and inside and marry them all together so I can make a 3D model?
Yes, this workflow is no problem. There a many projects going on today with this very workflow and deliverable. In some cases, you may find a model may not be needed since the point cloud is very complete.

What was the Hexagon conference that was mentioned?
The HxGN LIVE conference, Hexagon’s international conference, will take place 3-6 June 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Visit the conference website for more information.

How much experience do you all have in the nuclear power industry?
I have to confess, I have very little experience in a nuclear facility. However, we have a very successful customer that specializes in nuclear. One of the major benefits they enjoy is the ability to put the scanner in areas where exposure is an issue. It is much easier to replace a scanner than a person.

What are the advantages of point cloud vs. other types of laser scanning on the market?
The difference between our technology and others is a rather long list, and it depends on your application. There are scanners out there for all markets and/or applications. I would recommend talking to your local Leica Geosystems representative to see what scanner is best for you, and then we can whittle down the differences to a manageable size.

Does this have the capability to do clash detection between the point cloud data and an AutoCAD 3D object?
Yes. With the CloudWorx for AutoCAD plug-in, you have the ability to run clash detections between models and the point cloud.

Yes. Contact your local Leica Geosystems representative. He or she has a wealth of tools in that department.

Is the view inside the point cloud with geo tags we were looking at in the presentation a photo rendered point cloud?
Yes, the point cloud had colors from the image textured onto the points. So, for each scan point pixel, it extracts the RGB value from the image at that point and applies it to the measured scan point.

When can we expect to see TruView work in Chrome?
Good question. We are working on it. It isn't as easy as it may seem.

Is Leica TruView the same as Autodesk DWG TrueView?
No. Totally different product.

What is the accuracy of the scan as it is imported into CAD?
Each scanner has different accuracies. Each point from a Leica Geosystems C5/C10 scanner is +/-6mm and each point from our P20 is +/-3mm. When I ran tests comparing scan data to total station distances, on a 200' line, the difference was 0.002'. Just about spot on.

Have the Leica scanners been tested or used with Autodesk's newest point cloud software ReCap? If so how what are your thoughts on its ability to integrate raw data into CAD?
We have a very good working relationship with the Autodesk folks. I am sure the data has been tested with ReCap. As far as data integration, one of the main hang-ups for me is the import process. With Leica CloudWorx, it is just “open and off to work you go.” On the other hand, I'm sure tools will be further enhanced on all software products across the board. I think this is a good thing because it drives the demand for laser scanning.

Will this Leica system scan through water? Can it pick up a flowing stream bed?
Unfortunately, no. You still need to use conventional bathymetric surveying method with that.

What is the typical accuracy of the model components derived from the point cloud? 1/8", 1/4"?
Great question. Since modeled objects are being created from averaging thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands, of scan points, the accuracy of modeled objects is very high — typically in the 1.5 mm range. In Leica Cyclone, you have the ability to check the standard deviation errors on any modeled object so you can be assured your project's accuracy needs are being met.

When do you anticipate the ability to have intelligent/automated feature extraction from the point cloud? The ability to pull information from the model and create a 2D/3D plan for engineering purposes is critical, but must be a quick and easy task to perform.
One of the coolest tools that we have (and we couldn't show it during the webinar since we ran out of time) is the auto find pipes tool. Cyclone will automatically search the point cloud and fit cylinders to the point cloud. This functionality is being worked on to include more auto finding features as well as tying it to the libraries that are in Cyclone.

How long did that model take to produce?
My guess is a CAD engineer could create that model in 2-3 days.

How do we convert point clouds into walls/floors/ceilings when the scan is of the inside of a building?
You can 'grow' the surfaces in Cyclone or draw them in your favorite CAD package. The system is very flexible to suit your workflows.

How do you tie multiple scans into a coordinated point cloud?
Through the process of registration. The scanner can also be used like a total station so a traversing workflow is supported. In the registration, you can import survey control (this is where you put scan targets in the field) then each scan is then rotated and translated into that coordinate system.

When contracting a provider of laser scanning services, what clean up should they do using what product(s) and what file format should be given to the customer?
That depends if you want to do the processing or not. If you do, I would have the provider, scan, register, and take out any major noise (i.e. passing cars). Then have them deliver the full .imp database.

That colored view is impressive. How does one get from the mass point cloud and give it the intelligence to produce a fancy colored 3D plan?
There are several methods, all ranging in levels of difficulty. You could do major modeling, then in third party software, texture map images onto the model. Or you could make ortho-rectified images and use those.

Can the scanned image be located global with elevations and coordinates?
Yes. Any scanned data point can be rotated and translated into any coordinate system that your project requires.

The Leica ScanStation P20 contains the camera, right?
Yes. It is coaxial with the laser.

Do we need to add registration id's between each scans or is this automated?
Yes and no. Cyclone has several registration methods — one that is based on IDs, one that is based on geometry, and of course true Cloud to Cloud registrations. If you traverse with the scanner, the data will be fully registered when you download the data off the scanner.

Where can I find clear instructions on producing TINs from the point cloud as forums have made reference to third parties for meshing outputs?
If you are creating TINs for terrain modeling, you can do this in Cyclone or inCyclone II TOPO. If you are looking for meshing of complex objects, then 3DReshaper is a nice option. I would contact your local Leica Geosystems representative for further discussion or demos.
                           
Is it critical to level the scanner before each scan run?
No. However, you will most likely need to turn off the Dual Axis Compensator. I tend to use the scanner like a total station, so I usually level it, which only takes a few seconds.

Which platforms are utilizing the Cyclone motion engine?
There are several CAD platforms out there that use the pcE technology that Cyclone uses. For a list, contact your local Leica Geosystems representative.
                            
If scanning inside, can you filter what you don’t want in 3D? For example, filter out the box of shreddies on a counter or salt /pepper shaker on table?
This would be done in one of two ways. Either fence the item and remove it from the view, or use the smooth surface functionality.

Can equipment be leased?
There are some rentals that can be found. At the moment with the P20 being so new, there isn't enough in the North American market for rental. If you are looking for lease, we work with financial institutions that can provide a 'lease to own' program. Nothing from Leica directly though.


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