How 3D Scanning is Changing Architecture?

Technology has already revolutionized the way we communicate, relax and work. This process is called digital transformation and all industries have undergone it. One of these is the construction industry.

Of course, architects and designers have long been using advanced software instead of drawing boards, but this is only one side of the coin. Today they have another powerful tool in their hands 3D scanning systems that digitize the surrounding space to the nearest millimeter.

What is 3D scanning and how does it work?

In simple terms, this is a modern technology for collecting spatial data. The procedure is carried out using a 3D laser scanner, which makes up to 1 million measurements with an accuracy of 0.2-0.5 mm. The device analyzes how the light of a certain frequency is reflected from the surrounding space and fixes it. 

Building scanners are much more accurate and more efficient than emitters in smartphones. Their cost starts from $ 50,000 — $ 60,000. With manual use, the device operator rearranges it from place to place to get the most complete data set. The duration of the process depends on the area of ​​the object and can be measured both days and weeks. 

Why is it important?

This information is of exceptional value to designers and architects. For example, when it comes to modernization or reconstruction of objects, 3D-scanning allows you to minimize the number of errors and miscalculations. While drawings can show the perfect picture, this method evaluates everything realistically.

Creating a “digital double” of a building is important not only in terms of calculations and evaluation. In today’s construction industry, this information is useful to everyone. For example, an insurance company may take into account a model for studying and assessing risks. Rescue services, supervisory authorities can also request a model. According to Kevin Dowling, founder of the Kaarta 3D startup, in the future, even firefighters will first get to know the “digital double” of the building in order to avoid undue risk.

How technology helps preserve the architecture

In April 2019, the world watched with alarm over television from Paris the Notre Dame Cathedral was burnt. The building, whose age exceeds 800 years, almost collapsed. Notre Dame de Paris collapsed spire, ancient ceilings could not withstand fire and load.

Fortunately, the supporting structures have withstood and now the cathedral is closed for restoration. It will be restored in full accordance with its previous appearance, although it will take hundreds of millions of euros. But experts will rely not on ancient drawings or photographs, but on a detailed 3D model. It was created by architectural historian Andrew Tallon in 2010. For 5 days, Tallon and his colleagues collected data on the building using scanners: more than 50 measurement points and a huge “point cloud” have accumulated. Following it, a detailed 3D plan of the cathedral was created.

Such data is the best help for restorers, explains Raymond Pepi, head of the American Association for the Preservation of Architecture: “Having scans is incredibly important. The building is imprinted in all its flaws and inaccuracies. When you create a drawing, you involuntarily distort everything in the right direction. This helps to navigate, but this is not reality. “

The construction industry is one of the oldest. But no matter how the available tools and materials change, the basis is always the accuracy and reliability. Once the correctness of measurements was provided by rulers and tape measures. Today, specialists have millions of laser beams and 3D models in their hands. Such tools cannot be ignored.

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