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Point Cloud to BIM Workflow

By Administrator - Posted on 15 March 2011

There are an endless amount of software options available to those looking to create a BIM model from a point cloud. Here, we break down those options into an easy-to-follow list, that will drastically increase your software's performance and reduce your project's cost.

Pointools is a point cloud processing software that provides plug-ins for major CAD software including Google SketchUp, Rhino, MicroStation, and AutoCAD. Other CAD platforms are rumored to be coming. The plug-ins go for $1350; however, the plugin for MicroStation is built into the program, so it comes with your purchase of MicroStation.

For a BIM project, the workflow looks something like this:

  1. Purchase a scanner from FARO, Leica, Trimble, or one of the others. Or contract with a service company such as Rick Engineering in San Diego.
  2. Scan the existing situation (exteriors/interiors of one room, one building, a group of buildings or a whole city block). Whatever is needed for your context.
  3. Use the scanner’s software to register the point clouds from the multiple scans so they are aligned and geo-reference them.
  4. Use Pointools Edit to clean up and create segments and layers of the scans.
  5. Create a flythrough of the point cloud using Pointools Edit.
  6. Clip out the needed parts.
  7. Build the 3D model of the new construction and place it in its proposed place in the point cloud for reference.
  8. Using a product like Bentley Navigator, create a flythrough of the composite model which includes the point cloud and 3D model which came from Bentley, Revit or other.
    Note: This is different from step 5 because the first flythrough is useful for the beginning of the project where the construction committee can see the existing buildings, roads and terrain without taking the time to completely model everything in 3D. Whereas, this step is useful once design is done before construction begins in order to view the existing area with the proposed building fit right into the point cloud model. This is great for the end of the design phase to make sure everything is as it should be before construction begins.
  9. Do clash detection on the composite 3D model using Navigator.
  10. Do schedule simulation with Navigator.
  11. Cut the construction documents from the model.
  12. Complete the project.

There are a couple of main differences in this process from other scan to BIM workflows:

  1. There is no step for creation of solid surfaces from the point cloud. We didn't include one because there is no software currently available that can automatically create accurate solid surfaces from the point cloud. If you choose to go this route, you will spend more time editing and trying to figure out what's wrong with your model than if you use the point cloud as a reference in your 3D modelling phase.
  2. The reason to use Pointools is because they are the fastest and most reusable option when dealing with point clouds. Their vortex engine increases performance over all other competitors. Pointools also can import the largest variety of scanners’ file formats and export .pod files which can be read and viewed in the largest variety of CAD applications.

It is no wonder that so many companies are choosing to incorporate Pointools into their workflow to increase productivity and efficiency.
Learn more about Pointools today by contacting Archway!