3D Laser Scanning Frequently Asked Questions

1) What is 3D laser scanning?

3d laser scanners use light and radar (LIDAR) to measure and record precise locations and distances, ultimately producing a point cloud file. The technology enables you to produce highly accurate digital measurements and images quickly and easily for use in construction and engineering projects. 3d laser scanning is a revolutionary tool to document existing conditions. It is invaluable in design, prefabrication, asset management, and facility modifications.

2) Why is 3D laser scanning needed?

o As is often the case in buildings, plants and facilities, existing 2D drawings are inaccurate and incomplete. Project managers recognize that they need accurate as-built data to evaluate structures and equipment. The comprehensive point cloud obtained by 3d laser scanning provides a complete digital replica of the facility for easy collaboration and communication on their project.

3) How do I request a quote?

At TruePoint, our objective is to capture, analyze, and define the data accurately and efficiently, delivering it the way that you want it. Due to the high level of detail and accuracy which TruePoint provides in our 3D laser scans, we will need several pieces of information in order to provide a cost for your job. We know that your time is important, so we will work with you individually to provide you a quote quickly. Both the amount of time and number of scans required depends in part on the structure itself, on the number of levels or rooms, square footage, and whether or not the space is occupied (with people, furniture, fixtures, etc.).

1. Click here for a general quote request.

4) Why is TruePoint the best?

Many of our clients are relatively new to 3D laser scanning, so we offer comfort and assurance by walking them through the entire process, from pre-planning to the final deliverables. We believe that this is why we have had the opportunity to work with some of the best known and recommended firms and institutions in the United States.

We know that you have other options when it comes to laser scanning—renting or buying equipment or using a competitor. However, TruePoint offers our clients what many of the other options cannot. Among the many reasons to choose TruePoint are:

  • Cutting-Edge Technology—TruePoint uses the latest technology, equipment, and software.
  • Industry Trends—Laser scanning is a relatively new technology and, like so many other technologies, the industry changes quickly. Because TruePoint uses the technology on a daily basis and because it is our sole specialty, we keep up to date on the trends in the field. Our clients, then, can focus on their core competencies.
  • Training—Not only do TruePoint technicians receive formal training from the scanner manufacturer, but they also receive thorough instruction from an experienced technician. Furthermore, because our team of professionals are devoted solely to scanning and processing the scan data, we are able to work quickly, accurately, and knowledgably.
  • Expertise—To each project, our TruePoint team brings combined expertise in many areas, including engineering, architecture, information technology, and construction. Having this combination of knowledge is integral to providing our clients with the best service and optimal deliverables.
  • Professional Support—Since our scan technicians spend most of their time in the field, we have a trained office support team that is available to assist clients with questions and other information.
  • Client-Focused Approach— We pride ourselves not only in listening to our clients' requests but also in anticipating their needs in ways that allow us to offer ideas and add value to our service.

5) What is BIM?

BIM stands for Building Information Modeling and is more than just a 3D model. BIM gives engineers the ability to manage the building data throughout its whole life-cycle. It provides accurate spatial relationships and manufacturer details, as well as geographic information and other pertinent aspects of the building.

6) What is High Definition Scanning?

TruePoint offers high-definition 3D laser scanning for accurately capturing 3 dimensional data in a wide variety of settings, from hospital or university buildings to refineries, regardless of size and surface features. We can survey large-scale structures providing you with high definition 3D data quickly. High definition surveying is ideal for digitizing as-built construction and proposed additions or reconstructions. It can also be used to survey large projects during construction, to make sure the design is being executed properly.

7) Cost of laser scanning vs. the cost of traditional means to "As-Built" a site?

Weighing the benefits of laser scanning versus using traditional means to “as-built” a site:

  • Safer: Eliminates the need for lifts, safety harnesses, etc.
  • Faster: Less people are required and more area can be covered.
  • Reduces Costs: Associated with field trips to gather initial information or additional details that were missed originally.
  • Saves Time: Eliminate time out of the office when you could be doing other things while the scanning is being done.
  • Saves Money: Travel costs, rental of man lifts, and loss of productivity in the office while technicians are in the field.
  • Streamlines Work-flow: When the client receives the deliverables they are ready to begin their work immediately.

8) What industries does TruePoint serve?

TruePoint serves a number of industries. 3D laser scanning is indispensable in dealing with pre-existing architecture or historical preservation. The data gleaned from the scans can provide information on support analysis, design, and prefabrication.

Laser scanning is also perfect for use in municipalities, energy manufacturing plants, and waste water treatment facilities because it provides precision and detail in complex buildings and in facilities where there may be a lot of HVAC equipment, pumps, motors, beams, boilers, or other equipment.

Long range scanning is also helpful for the mapping and modeling of proposed implementation sites of towers or telephone lines. It is useful for modeling the equipment in relation to the rest of the environment.

Laser scanning is ideal for civil engineers and planners who need to collect data at intersections or on city streets. The data can be scanned quickly and safely, with little impact on traffic. 3D laser scans are also more detailed than conventional surveying methods.

9) What is the difference between LIDAR (time-of-flight) and Phase-based scanning?

LIDAR stands for Laser Imaging, Detection, and Ranging (commonly called Light Detection and Ranging). LIDAR is based on a principle referred to as time-of-flight, which uses a pulsed laser that emits the beam, a mirror that deflects the beam towards the scan area, and an optical receiver which detects the laser pulse and reflects it back to the scanner from the object. Time-of-flight refers to using the known speed of light with the amount of time it takes the laser pulse to be emitted, bounce off of an object, and return to the scanner to determine the distance the object is from the scanner (Distance = (Speed of Light x Time of Flight) / 2). LIDAR collects data at a slower rate than phase-based scanners but is able to be used at greater distances than phase-based scanners.

Phase-based scanners emit a constant laser beam into multiple phases and compare the phase shifts of the returned laser energy. The scanner then uses phase-shift algorithms to determine the distance, based on the unique properties of each individual phase (Time of Flight = Phase Shift / (2π x Modulation Frequency)). Although phase-based scanners collect data at a much high rate than time-of-flight scanners, their effective distance is much shorter. Additionally, phase-based scanners tend to have more "noise," or false data, than time-of-flight scanners.

10) What if my project is limited within the physical setting?

Some projects require special applications due to limitations within the physical setting. Often times this is due to line-of-sight issues and when a scan must be done safely from the ground or with precautionary distance. Some of these applications would include above-ceiling MEP features in hospitals where it is necessary to maintain negative airflow or interstitial spaces that are congested with limited access. Since laser scanning is a non-contact measurement tool (i.e. we can scan from a safe distance or location) this becomes a powerful tool for solving these complex challenges.

11) Is nationwide service available?

Yes. We have project managers all over the US. Our experienced team provides custom quotes and quickly mobilizes to scan each site.

12) Considering purchasing a LiDAR system?

It's important to consider the many costs above the purchase price of the scanner that exist including: qualified personnel, software, training, scanner calibration, and legal fees.

Click here to learn about the true costs of purchasing your own laser scanning equipment and the savings associated with hiring a qualified professional.