What is 3D Laser Scanning?

High Definition 3D Laser Scanning (HDS) is an exciting and expanding technology based around rapid, non-contact, non-destructive, data capture that measures the shape of physical objects using line of sight lasers, to create “3D point clouds” of data. It is the most rapid method of recording any site, building or object in true 3D, providing a fully measurable data set for indefinite use and archive.

3D laser scanning is ideally suited to the measurement of contoured surfaces and complex shapes which require large amounts of data for their accurate representation.  This is particularly useful where traditional measurement methods can prove impractical or dangerous. 3D Laser scanning is quickly lending itself to many applications, as it is the high density of the data, which distinguishes this technology from traditional surveying methods which is based on surveying specific discrete points.

The resultant scan captures an object’s exact size and shape, as a digital 3-dimensional representation, with incredible speed and accuracy.  As the information generated is true, accurate, vector data, it can be used to not only provide building elevations, plans and sections, but also used to form the basis for 3D models for visualisation or analysis.

By viewing point cloud data on a PC, enhanced with true, realistic colour values and 3D visualisation, the technology can provide unique “high-definition” information for many expanding applications and uses.

For the surveyor and engineer, this completeness translates into an enhanced deliverable, more accurate and timely designs, reduced risk and better overall added value for the client.


The applications that present themselves are a mixture of existing requirements coupled with new, emerging markets. The market sectors are wide and varied as are the potential uses of this technology. For example:

  • Intricate Building Surveys
  • Historic & Listed Buildings
  • Monitoring & Deformation
  • Civil & Rail Infrastructure
  • Clash Detection & Analysis
  • 3D Visualisation & Film
  • 3D Modelling & BIM

The Process

The process involves a field/site operation and a data/office processing operation to both collect, and collate, the data into an accurate, useable point cloud.

The data is captured using the laser scanner from controlled locations around the site/building/object in order to ensure the scan provides 100% coverage. The data is stored on-board the scanner and can be linked, at the same time, to high resolution photography for “photo-realistic” scanned images.

On returning to the office the data is downloaded and registered (stitched together) to create a complete 3-dimensional representation of the scanned site/building/object and post-processed with specialist software into the required deliverable.

For more information about our 3D Laser Scanning services, contact us today.