Old Tech made New
In recent years, 3D Laser Scanning has gained huge popularity in the engineering sector worldwide, and this emergence can be attributed to increasing its performance reliability and affordability throughout the years since it was first invented in the 1980s. In fact, the first 3D Scanners used were invented way back in the 1960s, using cameras and projectors to perform the task. It was only years later in the 1980s that these scanners were replaced by those that utilise white light and lasers. It certainly took a while for the cost-benefit analysis to make sense to the market.
At present day, it would be an understatement to say that this technology has taken the market by aplomb. Manufacturers of 3D Laser Scanners are constantly improving their specifications and capabilities, with prices getting more and more competitive with each passing day. Performance wise, 3D Laser Scanning has proven to be capable and dependable in a wide range of applications across various industries, with new applications and methods constantly being researched to explore and discover even more possibilities that this invention can bring to the plate.
Measurements at will, speed and precision
Dimensional control is one of the widely used applications of Laser Scanning. Dimensional control has been around for decades, and refers to the combination of precise measurements with 3D Modeling. This combination enables 3D spaces to be accurately measured, and allows various analyses and surveying works to be performed on the selected scope itself.
Manufacturing plants, for example, require dimensional control for operations such as facility management, equipment retrofitting, facility maintenance and also construction works. Conventionally, measurements will be taken by hand, which will be passed on to the drafters for conversion into hand-drawn or digital drawings. This poses a few issues in terms of accuracy and duration. Human errors are inevitable when it comes to measurements and the subsequent conversion into hand-drawn or digital drawings, and you can imagine the time it would take to complete a whole manufacturing plant. Some may argue that blueprints or 2D drawings of as-built conditions are already in place, obtained during the construction of the facility, but seasoned professionals will know that it only happens too often where a pipe does not appear where it should, based on the drawings.
With the above in mind, many companies are turning to 3D Laser Scanning as a proven, and dependable, alternative. Most terrestrial scanners boast an accuracy of up to 2mm per 10m, and the ability to steer up to 1 million laser points per second. This provides the level of accuracy and precision required, as well as the speed to complete the task at multiple times faster than a human. Another attractive benefit will be in terms of safety. With a range of at least 100m for most terrestrial scanners, these laser beams will be able to remove the need for humans to get to elevated grounds, and measure environments otherwise unsafe for humans.
3D Measurements: Additional Perspectives
Another example would be the volumetric survey of Bulk Carriers transporting sand. Traditionally, draught survey is used to measure the weight of the sand using Archimedes Principle, which has its limitations due to the need to take into account the uneven density of the sand (the bottom of the sand pit will normally be denser due to water). Laser Scanning can complement this perfectly by providing the sand volume, due to the ability to accurately profile the uneven surface of the sand. This provides another control on exactly how much sand is in the Bulk Carrier, and illustrates the capability of the laser scanner to measure non-uniform surfaces dependably.
It is this particular capability that extends to other various applications as well, one being the monitoring of ground subsidence. Ground subsidence can occur due to natural or man-made causes, such as groundwater seepage, tunneling or mining. This particular occurrence poses huge problems for infrastructure and ecosystems in the affected area, and periodic monitoring has to be done during and after the course of work. By creating a 3D profile the ground surface periodically and referencing it to a datum (or other reference points), movements or changes anywhere in the profile can be observed, compared and analysed, as opposed to traditional ground subsidence surveying methods, which monitor individual points instead.
Of course, there are plenty more examples of 3D Laser Scanning for various dimensional control purposes, including preservation of heritage (think colonial houses, statues, figurines), automobile modifications as well as 3D printing, but it would be impossible to exhaust all of them here in this post, not forgetting the fact that more applications are being researched and tested right now as we speak.
In the meanwhile, we wish everyone a very Happy Chinese New Year, and we hope that the year has been great thus far! HUAT AH!