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3D Scanning Use Cases
For most 3D scanning applications, point clouds are preferred for their accuracy. Some accuracy is always lost when the data is interpolated into mesh data. Meshes are required though for fabrication and some visualisation workflows, as meshes are an interpretation of 3D data with physicality, and not just points in space.
3D scanning can be a way to holistically document structures and objects for heritage or digitisation. From an accurate dataset, one can measure and extrapolate information for documentation.
Measured Drawings of Oberon House - Keely Bengtson, Sophie Tuck, Zhiming Xu
Digital Twins are used widely in fabrication, BIM, engineering and construction - these are 3D scanned datasets that are within an allowable tolerance, that they can be used for reference or analysis.
Cloud to Mesh Deviation Comparison. (Image from CloudCompare)
At all scales, 3D scan data can be used to understand as-built conditions, such as comparing 3D scanned data of a fabrication/construction to its digital model. This type of analysis can usually be done with both mesh and point cloud data.
Construction Site 3D Scan (Image from Bim Learning Center)
As-built comparisons also provide useful data for construction and BIM - this can be useful for staging, ensuring accountability and progress reporting. As 3D scans provide a faster alternative for taking measurements, it can be reasoned that more measurements can be taken more frequently - such as catching deviations of a slab before other works are continued.
A common pipeline for 3D scanned data is to be used as assets for rendering, re-production or digital experiences.
3D scan data as point clouds or as meshes are commonly used for rendering in design contexts. For example, point cloud datasets of site environments can be used as a quick way to depict context for architectural drawings.
Photogrammetry for realistic assets.
It is also common to produce photo-realistic assets from 3D scan or point cloud datasets to use in visualisation applications, such as in Architectural renders, product design, movies or video games.
If an asset needs to be replicated again physically - for example, 3D scanning a hand-crafted work to then re-reproduce using digital fabrication methods. The 3D scan data usually needs to be turned into a mesh object - a digital representation of a solid object - as opposed to point information.
[Case Study Here] Above: Heritage paque that was 3D scanned and reproduced through Multijet Fusion 3D Printing, a detailed powder-based 3D printing method that allows for full colour like a paper printer.
3D scan data can be used in narrative or immersive-media as with other types of assets.
View on Youtube in VR
[Case Study Here] Above: The point cloud aesthetic was manipulated and leveraged for it's ephemeral quality in this VR 360 video, produced in Unreal Engine. Below: Interactive point cloud experience, produced in Unreal Engine.