Point Cloud Modeling – The Scan to BIM Process
Want to know the best way to gain a competitive advantage if you work as an architect or engineer? The answer lies in point cloud modeling and the scan to BIM process. Point cloud modeling involves taking raw data produced by 3D laser scanners and turning it into working 3D rendered CAD models.
Scan to BIM also converts scanned data into a 3D model, but it goes one step further – transforming the 3D model into a powerful Building Information Model (BIM). BIM is growing in popularity. It allows designers and construction companies to collate information in one place – from designs to construction plans to maintenance guides. BIM makes collaboration easier and helps projects to run smoothly.
What Is Scan to BIM?
In a nutshell, Scan to BIM is the process of converting laser scanned data (or point cloud) into a 3D model and then adding information to create a functioning and live BIM model.
Who Needs Scan to BIM?
The answer is – primarily, construction firms implementing BIM want a detailed and accurate BIM model of an existing structure to require scan to BIM. This could be construction engineers, designers, architects, property developers, infrastructure engineers, and building maintenance companies.
As BIM covers all stages of a project, from concept, to design, to construction, to life-time maintenance, there are many parties that benefit from precise BIM models to work from.
Why Is There a Need for Scan to BIM?
As BIM technology has progressed, so has the need for precision. Fortunately, 3D laser scanners have reached a level of high precision these days, and it’s relatively easy to get accurate results within a short space of time.
However, the conversion to BIM remains a tricky process. Large unified point clouds need to be broken down into manageable chunks – first floor, second floor, atrium, exterior, etc. This takes specialist skills and knowledge. Also, the process of creating a 3D model from the data is complicated.
You may ask yourself: “Isn’t everything automated these days? Can’t you just take a point cloud, hit a button and out pops a fully functioning 3D model that you can add information and details to?”
The answer is yes, and no.
Yes, most BIM authoring software has built-in algorithmic modeling tools to make things semi-automated and faster. But the algorithms typically only do half the job. They will pick out main features such as doors, windows, pipework, structural elements such as beams and columns, etc. What they won’t and can’t do is fill in the blanks. The more intricate details may remain sketchily rendered and without any detail or information attached to them.
This is where a CAD technician or engineer is required to make the Scan to BIM process work accurately.
When Is Scan to BIM Needed?
Scan to BIM can be applied at any time during the design stage of a project or even after works have completed aiding with as-builts and maintenance.
The most common use for Scan to BIM is in the renewal or upgrade of existing buildings. Older buildings often don’t have any as-built documentation or drawings available. This makes it difficult to plan and design new works. Scan to BIM is ideal as a full and detailed survey can be taken relatively quickly and transferred to a working BIM model, removing the CAD drafting stage.
Often the architect will request the Scan to BIM process on behalf of the client, simply because the architects are more aware of the technology that is available.
How Does Scan to BIM Work? – The Scan to BIM Process
IndiaCADworks’ scan to BIM process follows some simple steps, but there are layers of complexity within these steps. The basic outline is Survey > Data conversion > 3D modeling > BIM creation.
Here is some more detail on each of the four main Scan to BIM steps:
- Validating the point cloud scanned data – The client usually sets a 3D laser scanner on-site and fires out a high-speed rotating (eye-safe) laser beam. When the laser beam hits a solid surface, it is bounced back to sensors mounted on the scanner. This allows the scanner to record the position of the solid surface relative to the scanner. The x, y, and z coordinates of each point are accurately recorded. The scanner is then moved to a new location, or other scanners are used in tandem, all collecting coordinate data relative to a benchmark. When this scanned data is sent, the scan to BIM team at ICW validates the data and updates the client whether everything is included as per the site plan.
- Coordinate data converted to point cloud data – All the scanned data is exported and collated in one place and is combined to create a point cloud using specialist software. Data is converted to .rcp and .rcs file formats. For large and complex point clouds, it may be necessary to segment the cloud into manageable pieces before moving onto the next step.
- Point cloud data is converted to a 3D CAD model – Specialist engineers then import the point cloud data into 3D modeling software, such as AutoCAD Revit, and, using their engineering knowledge, create a functioning 3D CAD model.
- Conversion from 3D model to BIM – The engineer then sets about converting the 3D model into a BIM model using CAD tools and BIM software. They ensure that data, dimensions, and any other relevant information is included in the BIM model.
Benefits of Scan to BIM
There are numerous benefits to using Scan to BIM
- Reliable and accurate results – 3D laser scanners produce precise data that helps to create an accurate BIM model. The results are more reliable than traditional survey methods or using old as-built data or blueprints.
- BIM improves collaboration, communication, and transparency – Using a BIM model as opposed to an individual design model means that multiple parties such as MEP contractors, maintenance companies, architects, etc. can all work collaboratively on a project. This helps to reduce planning problems and construction mistakes.
- Improved project sustainability – At level 6D BIM and higher, the entire lifecycle of the project and environmental impact are considered and mitigated. This improves the sustainability of the building and helps to reduce carbon footprints.
- Avoid costly construction errors – When you create a BIM model directly from laser scanned data, there is far less chance of survey anomalies and mistakes. This means that site construction will run much more smoothly with fewer delays.
- Reduces overall construction costs and time – At 4D and 5D BIM, time and cost elements are included. This means that they can be minimized throughout the project. Scan to BIM helps you to get to this stage more easily.
- Outsourcing Scan to BIM fills skill gaps – If you don’t have qualified or trained in-house employees, you can easily outsource the work to experts in the field, again saving time and money.
Outsource Scan to BIM the BIM Specialists at IndiaCADworks
IndiaCADworks is an industry-leading provider of architectural, mechanical, and BIM MEP engineering services. ICW has worked with clients from around the world to help ease excessive workloads or fill the skill gaps in the AEC industry.
With decades of experience and a team of BIM specialists, ICW ensures that all work is compliant with international guidance and best practices. ICW offers a comprehensive Scan to BIM service, which includes breaking down unified point clouds into smaller chunks, converting to a 3D model, and finally creating a BIM model. To find out more about outsourcing Scan to BIM to IndiaCADworks, contact us for a free consultation.