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How Does 3D Laser Scanning Work?

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How does 3D laser scanning work? Chances are you’ve already heard about laser scanning but have yet to experience it for yourself. As the technology becomes more mainstream than ever before, it’s the perfect time to learn more about laser scanning.

From ALL3DP by Leo Greguric

While it’s usually considered a rather complex subject, we’ll do our best to introduce you to the topic of laser scanning with simple explanations that cover the basics as well as the more advanced aspects of the technology.

We’ll start by explaining the core principles behind laser scanning and how the hardware operates alongside software to create the end result: a detailed 3D scan. With the basics of laser scanning functionality out of the way, we’ll dive deeper into some of the popular applications of laser scanning.

After all that, we’ll break down the cost of this technology for those looking to invest in laser scanning for your business or hobby. In the final part of the article, we’re going to take a detailed look at each of the main types of laser scanning technology so that you can get started on your own laser scanning projects. Or just learn something new!

Let’s dive right in!

How Does it Work?

Perhaps it’s best to begin by clarifying some terminology. Laser scanning is anything that utilizes a laser and includes some sort of movement in the form of continuous scanning. 3D scanning is a broader term that includes several techniques for obtaining a 3D scan, including photogrammetry. So, laser scanning is a method of 3D scanning, but it’s not the only option.

There are also varying types of laser scanning that differ in the way they map the space of interest. But the basis for all the methods is the reflection of laser light.

The Basics

As the scanner emits the laser light, it returns to the sensor located on the scanner after the beam hits an object. Since the speed of laser light is known, we can easily calculate the distance the beam has traveled. These distances are then plugged into software algorithms that use them to recreate the scene digitally. The algorithms change depending on which laser technology.

Laser scanning is a complex process that makes the best use of both hardware and software. The scanner itself is used as a device that collects a ton of data on terrain while performing the scan. The corresponding software is the brains of the whole operation, using the scanned points and connecting them into polygons, which then form the surface of a 3D scan.

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