Wednesday, February 09, 2011

A Few Million Points: Laser Scanning Point Clouds and Revit

At Autodesk University 2010 we launched the product, Scan to BIM, and since then have delivered some minor updates and the next release is just around the corner. With the dust from the merger between Rand, IMAGINiT and Avatech now settled outo it is time to get back to writing.

This month Matt and I wrote a column for Structural Engineering and Design which covered scanning at a high level. Let's get this started by answering some of the common questions that come up about the product and then move into some other detail.

  • Question 1: What version of Revit does Scan to BIM support?
  • Answer  1: Revit 2011 (Architecture, Structure and MEP), be sure to download service pack 2

  • Question 2: What file formats can I import into the STB product?
  • Answer  2: At this time you will need the industry standard formats .pts or .ptx
    • Update: Version 1.1 adds support for FARO formats: .fls & .fws

  • Question 3: In some of the presentations you have shown the current state of the art process, without Scan to BIM, can you share this?
  • Answer  3: Sure, but I do not take credit for the workflow. This comes from people like yourself doing this today.  Parts of this were also talked about at the last SPAR conference (which if you work with scanning data, would be a great one to attend).  The process is to take the scan data from the hardware and get this to a Revit model involves anywhere from 2-5 pieces of software that range in price from $3,000 - $30,000 USD.  

  • Question 4: Does my Revit file size increase when I use point clouds?
  • Answer  4: No, if you have a 250MB Revit model and use a 5Gig .ptx file the Revit Model stays 250MB.  With this approach the point cloud resides in a database and Revit will push/pull the data it needs to display and interact with. 

  • Question 5: I see you have a trial of the Scan to BIM software, can I use my own data instead of the sample dataset you provide?
  • Answer  5: Short answer, Yes.  
  • Answer  5: Long answer, leading up to the launch of the product there was a small pool of people we found that were actually doing Scan to Model conversions and we wanted to make this as straightforward as possible to the general Revit users that would be new to this process. So we limited you to the sample dataset we provided and in the first few days, this was the #1 complaint and so we removed this limitation and sent a note about this out to those who had downloaded the trial to update to the new version.  Since that time you have been able to use your own .pts/.ptx files within the 30 day fully functional trial (with no limitations).  One last item, which we found two weeks ago was the automated e-mail that goes out with the trial authorization which after our update still said it was limited to the sample dataset that we provide (even though you could use your own data).  We kept wondering where this question was coming from and after some sleuthing, found and fixed the culprit. 
So there are some of the top questions we get about Scan to BIM.  In the next few posts we will answer more as well as offer some more insight on usage and how to's.  If you have a specific question, workflow or Scan To BIM question let us know in the comments. 



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