3D Scanning is Coming to Architecture

3d scanning with Trimble TX6

Ayse Sercan is an architect at Safer DIY Spaces, a small Oakland-based non-profit with an enormous mission: providing shelter to those who wouldn’t normally have it.

Knowing how ridiculously expensive Bay Area housing can be, this is a huge deal for the community – it’s literally keeping people from living on the streets.

Before 3D Scanning

Technically speaking, Ayse and her team do pro-bono architecture work for unpermitted construction areas, which helps to ensure that the property is legal and safe. This typically involves making floor plans for large warehouse spaces.

In the beginning, she did all of this work by hand: taking measurements and recording them in notebooks. However, she quickly realized that this process was too tedious to continue. She had to find a better way.

After 3D Scanning

With the limited resources available to Safer DIY Spaces, Ayse knew that she didn’t want to pay to hire an assistant. It didn’t take long for her to begin investigating a more affordable option: 3D scanning.

Trimble Realworks

Trimble Realworks

Her projects took place in older buildings, where a 3D scanner could show her the exact location of the walls and reveal imperfections such as walls that weren’t at perfect 90 degree angles.

It could also show her when a beam was abnormally shaped, with its width varying along its length. These were the small details that she’d normally miss if she only measured one end of a beam and assumed it to be uniform from end to end.

Ayse’s previous interactions with third party contractors at her workplace made her familiar with 3D scanning technology. This experience helped her realize that her non-profit organization could use a 3D scanner to capture existing plans, known in the construction industry as “as-builts.”

How CSDS helped her utilize the technology

Along the way, CSDS was able to help get her up to speed.

“CSDS was great. I rented the Trimble TX Series scanner for one project. Doug Reichmuth came out to do a sample scan, and showed me tricks and tips to get set up properly.”

After finishing the first project, Ayse rented a scanner for another week and scanned another space. She shared her experience with her colleagues, and together they decided to buy a Trimble TX6 3D scanner.

The decision turned out well for her team, thanks to her on-site training with Doug and her additional training session at the CSDS Sacramento office. While there, she learned about the scanner’s additional hardware features and the additional functionality of Trimble’s RealWorks software.

“They showed me tricks for aligning things where I had difficulty. It helped me hit the ground running with scans and plan sets, and gave me the ability to move faster, which made things more productive.”

The Results

Armed with her new Trimble TX6 3D scanner, Ayse reduced the time it took to measure warehouses from 2-3 weeks to just half a week for scanning and another half a week for creating the 3D model. In this way, she effectively cut her total project time down by two thirds.

By implementing 3D scanning, Ayse’s BIM drawings can be spread among more people with Trimble RealWorks’ ability to share the 3D point cloud and deliverables generated within the platform.

This also fits better with her team’s workflow. Given that her volunteers work irregularly and during the evenings, it allows them to share the work of building the 3D models more conveniently.

If her team was being paid for their labor, her old way of working would’ve cost $20-$30K per project. By adding 3D scanning to her workflow, Ayse estimates that she’s already saved the equivalent of $150,000 in project time within about 4 months.

This amounts to nearly $40,000 in savings per month, which means that the scanner had already paid for itself in less than two months!

The Future of 3D Scanning for Architects

When asked about the future of 3D scanning in architecture, Ayse says:

“I think this is the way it’s going to go.”

At the moment, the point clouds made by her 3D scanner are used to create a BIM model. The BIM software then creates a 3D model of a building with all of the drawing information in it.

This 3D model has info about how the walls are made, which allows you to estimate how much wood, drywall, and steel to buy. The more accurate your model, the better your BIM deliverables and cost estimates will be.

Once the software is capable of fully automating BIM deliverables from the point clouds, Ayse predicts:

“It’ll be so valuable that architects will find it hard to stay competitive without investing in the technology.”

Until then, this process can take Ayse and her Safer DIY Spaces team a couple of weeks. They spend a week tying the scans together properly, which basically becomes a series of precise 3D photos.

The software makes best-fit transformations in order to connect the individual scans and create a single point cloud of each project, and then her team spends another week creating deliverables from the project cloud.

Overall, Ayse is optimistic about the future of 3D scanning and architecture:

“Soon this will take off and become a standard workflow for architects.”

Contact CSDS for more information

If you would like to learn more about 3D Scanning, call 800-243-1414 or email solutions@csdsinc.com. You may also visit the 3D Scanning area of our website by CLICKING HERE.

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