CAD Integration

  1. One of the key issues facing our industry is how to best integrate CAD with 3D point cloud images.
  2. To date, the solution has been to create add-ons for the leading CAD systems.
  3. What if a CAD engine were added to the optimized point cloud environments?

One of the most important technical challenges facing our industry is integration with the leading, CAD-based design environments. A number of firms have taken steps to address the issue of converting point cloud images into intelligent 3D CAD models, but true integration remains elusive. There are add-ons, as in the case of Leica CloudWorx, for some of the leading CAD packages. This is a step in the right direction in that it is striving for integration, however I think most software designers would agree that we can do better. A possible exception to this might be in the automotive design world where they have eliminated point clouds from the equation.

Of course, at the root of the problem is the fact that the existing CAD design software was never intended to work with tens of millions of 3D points, and the current point cloud engines, which are optimized to manage and display huge 3D data sets, do not have 3D design capabilities. Add in the proprietary format issues and the customer is not looking at a high performance solution. This is why a NavisWorks, which is a design review package that can import a large number of disparate formats is used to view point clouds and 3D CAD models.

To date, it appears that the laser scanning vendors have been doing the best they can with the hand they have been dealt. Their approach of “bolting on” point cloud technology to the exisiting CAD engines would seem to be their only option, but what if, yes the classic “what if” the point cloud software architects were to add a CAD engine into their environments. Would that be the better design for this ideal, hybrid 3D point cloud/CAD world that some of us are looking for? I certainly do not have the expertise to answer this question, but I do think it is worth considering.

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