Graphics Master Waxes 3D Laser Scanning

Graphics Master Waxes 3D Laser Scanning

by TODD STOLARSKI | June 4, 2015

In our three-dimensional world there has been a lot of hype these days concerning many 3D platforms. Motion Pictures, ultrasounds, and, of course, printing get a ton of love and attention, but the oft-forgotten other child in the 3D family, scanning is coming on strong. Prior to his engagement as part of BuiltWorlds’ Co-Founder Matt Abeles’ Tech Toy Test Drive (say that one three times fast)  taking place at the The MCAA Construction Technology Conference next Tuesday June, 9, we caught up Kevin Carr, General Manager at MasterGraphics Imaging Solutions to see where we are now with 3D laser scanning and see what the future holds.

Graphic Master, Kevin Carr

Graphic Master, Kevin Carr

Our conversation with Mr. Carr began by taking a short trip in the not so far back machine to a few years ago when laser scanning was happening as a rate of 2 billion points. Due to a meteoric increase in computer horsepower we are now able to scan 20 billion points with pinpoint accuracy. Superior graphics boards and RAM (Random Access Memory) that are able to manage the heavy files are no longer “choking the PC” Carr said. “The hardware is changing more rapidly than 3D printing” he noted.

With all the hardware needed to handle those 20 billion points of recorded 3D laser scanning information comes a hurdle. Just how to handle all of that big data? From the jobsite to a desktop workstation you can’t quite rely on a wi-fi transfer to the cloud for a 300gb building scan so, secure hard drives are still utilized to transport the data for the digital modeling process. This invaluable laser scanning information allows visual access to places with the building otherwise unattainable. That information proves to be crucial throughout the entire BIM process during construction, but afterward as well. Carr spoke of how this collected data can be used to, not only, recheck a building’s plans, but for eventual repairs.

As I asked Mr. Carr to look into his crystal ball, he talked of a day not far off where 3D laser scanning would allow VDCs and the like to move pipes through walls, and countless other BIM usages. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. The practical applications for the future of 3D laser scanning go far beyond the AEC industry, though.  

Carr envisions laser scanners will soon be overtaking 3D printing in terms of prevalence in standard consumer usage. We’re already at the juncture where the price point has drastically come down and mobile tech companies are building 3D laser scanners into your phone. “I don’t see a 3d printer in every home, but I do see a 3D printer in everyone” he said. A bold statement, given the extreme popularity of 3D printing.

I don’t see a 3d printer in every home, but I do see a 3D printer in everyone.
— Kevin Carr, General Manager, MasterGraphics

After the introductory period, Carr believes the novelty will wear off and the every-day use will settle in. Medical facilities will have various usages throughout. A patient undergoing physical therapy will have their progress of their bum limb measured simply by a scan as opposed by hand, which seems archaic by comparison. Parents will use the 3D laser scanner in their phone to record full digital models of their children at different ages. Using a Sharpie on the doorjam to mark little Jane’s height and an old photo is a far cry from having a fully replicated three dimension image that you can print out into a figure. Jane can be her own doll. Logically, I asked Kevin Carr if he had a 3D image of himself, of which he had printed into his own action figure. He’s only half way there.  He’s been scanned but no action figure yet. After our conversation, I know what I’m getting him for his birthday.


See Kevin Carr of MasterGraphics as part of BuiltWorlds’ Co-Founder Matt Abeles’ Tech Toy Test Drive next Tuesday June, 9 at The MCAA Construction Technology Conference.

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