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Survey Lasers – The Advantages and Disadvantages of Laser Scanning

Advantage: Laser Surveying Can Provide Exhaustive Data

One of the greatest drawbacks to manual surveys is their inability to provide exhaustive survey data. For example, if an engineering firm or manufacturing company needs to identify minuscule defects in parts or objects, laser scanning can reveal the problem areas using color mapping, which shows design inaccuracies in a different color than the rest of the part or product. The defect can then be resolved by editing a solid CAD model produced from the scanning data. Another example of how laser surveying provides exhaustive data can be seen in the use of laser surveying in crime scene reconstruction to judge bullet trajectory and create crime scene animations that provide valuable information about how a crime occurred.

Disadvantage: Laser Surveying Costs Slightly More than Manual Surveying

In terms of service fees, 3D laser scanning costs more than manual surveying. However, depending on the nature of the project, the cost of a manual surveying project can exceed the cost of a survey lasers project. Due to its quick, accurate data capture, laser surveying can complete a surveying project in as little as one surveying session, whereas the comparatively slow process of manual scanning can lead to significantly more billable time that negates the advantage of its slightly lower cost.

Advantage: The Elimination of Errors and Omissions from Survey Results

Unlike manual surveying and other surveying methods, laser surveying records the physical data of an entire space, environment or object, making it impossible to accidentally omit needed data from surveys. In addition, the flawless data capture capabilities of laser surveying produces accurate results the first time around, whereas manual surveying can require numerous surveying sessions to produce worthwhile results.

Disadvantage: The Size of Scanning Files

Although laser scanners produce flawless data results that can be edited and repurposed in a variety of ways using polygon mesh models, solid surface models and solid CAD models, customers must have the right computer hardware to accommodate the significant memory requirements of the data. For technical companies such as engineering firms and manufacturing companies, this typically isn’t a problem. But it can pose a problem for organizations that don’t use commercial grade computer hardware, such as police departments and small design firms.

Advantage: The Generation of 3D Files that are Faithful to Reality

If you have ever used the 2D information produced by manual surveying to make complex design decisions, then know how frustrating it can be to not have a 3D model of your subject. With laser surveying, this frustration is laid to rest. Whether the subject matter is a landscape, and interior space, a structure, a large object or a small object, laser scanning data allows you to observe your subject from multiple vantage points while using various data models.

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