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From Physical to Digital: The Scan-to-BIM Process

Scan-to-BIM is a process that involves capturing detailed information about the physical building structure using laser scanning technology and converting it into a digital 3D model and then into a BIM (Building Information Modeling) model. This enables architects and engineers to analyze the building before planning for a renovation or remodel. BIM models are extremely useful for facility management, supporting maintenance and monitoring the operation of a building. Furthermore, the 3D models can document the condition of the building and identify potential issues early on, allowing for proactive maintenance and repairs.

Step 1: Surveying the Building Using a Laser Scanner

Initially, a surveyor is tasked with surveying the building using a specialized laser scanner or tachymeter. The scanner emits laser beams and receives the reflected signals, which are then used to determine the distances and positions of surface points in space. These data are then converted into a point cloud, representing the building's shape in 3D. It is important to note that the surveyor's work must be precise to ensure that the 3D modelers can achieve the best possible results. Additionally, the point cloud data must be registered or located, which is a process of linking the 3D scan data together and bringing it to a common reference level before the data can be transformed into a BIM model.

Step 2: Data Export and Registration

The scanned data is stored in a point cloud format, which is suitable for further processing into 3D and BIM models. Common file formats for this purpose include E57 and RCP, which are widely used for exchanging laser scan data.

Additionally, point cloud data must be registered or located. This involves linking the 3D scan data together and bringing it to a common reference level. This step is necessary to correctly merge data from different scan sessions or from different scanning devices.

Registration is performed manually or partially automated using specialized software. In the manual method, visual features in the data are used to establish correspondence between different scan data, while automated methods use algorithms that automatically compare and register the data based on geometric or textual features.

The registration of point clouds is the process of combining multiple point clouds together to obtain a single point model. This step is important to improve the quality of the resulting BIM model from the 3D laser scan and to ensure the accuracy of the final BIM model.

Step 3: Modeling of Digital 3D and BIM Models

After the data has been exported and registered, the process of creating a digital 3D and BIM model begins. This process is carried out using specialized CAD software such as Revit or Archicad.

Our 3D modelers use the point cloud as a basis to replicate the building digitally. They create walls, doors, windows, and other components exactly according to the point cloud, and can also create and add materials and textures to make the model more realistic and authentic. For this step, photos are also used to ensure that the digital model corresponds as closely as possible to the real building or specific model requirements.

Scan-to-BIM as a Valuable Tool

In general, it can be stated that the process of Scan-to-BIM is an efficient and precise method for converting physical buildings into digital 3D models and BIM models. Using laser scanning technology and subsequent modeling of the data, architects and engineers can accurately analyze and simulate buildings before beginning planning for renovations or remodels.

Scan-to-BIM is the millimeter-accurate digital re-creation of buildings of all types and an extremely useful tool for efficiently and effectively creating a digital twin of an existing building.

Are you interested in the topic of 3D modeling (BIM) and want to learn more about it or do you have specific questions? We would be happy to have a conversation about it.

Michael Danklmaier

Miviso Co-Founder

Tel.: +43 664 4563309


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