Terrestrial 3D Scanners - Experiences?

Hi Forum,

I have a question, I am currently thinking about buying a 3D scanner to get point cloud data for small to medium sized buildings.
I recently rented the Leica BLK 360 G2 for a few days and though most result were OK, there are some issues like e.g. getting almost no reflections from dark roof tiles or the fact that despite the nominal range of 45m everything beyond 20m is often not usable…

I was also able to try the new Pin Point software

, which might be an interesting alternative to the often very pricy SW from the manufacturers.

Is there anyone here in the Forum who has experience in this field and likes to discuss the different pros and cons here (price, software(price), robustness, precision… ?

Since @Mike_A wrote here:

… that he uses a Faro S70 I would of course be interested in his experiences :wink:

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Hi Andreas,
I have been creating 3D models from scan data since 2000 (23 years:)
I used to be involved in sales and support for Leica and Riegl 3D scanners for about 5 years, and have also worked in the surveying industry for over 10 years. I have just finished working for a large boat yard using Faro scanners for superyacht refits.
You get what you pay for with 3D scanners.
The BLK G2 is about the minimum that I would work with, The Leica RTC 360 is very nice, but my pick would be the new Faro Focus Premium as far as Bang for Buck goes.
You should also look very seriously at a photogrammetry solution, google Eugene Liscio - ai2-3D a forensics expert who does very accurate building scale work with photogrammetry.
The really good news is that Rhino is the perfect solution for working with scan data (in my experience)


Wow! that is impressive !

thanks for sharing, I just watched your video and although I have been modeling from point cloud data sets for about 3 years now and would describe myself in all modesty as an seasoned Rhino user, I have to admit I learned a thing or two, so thank you!

I worked on large data sets the last years ( up to 250 scan points between 250 - 950 MB each) AFAIK they have been made with an RTC and the quality is really good, however I can only compare that to the BLK and the new Matterport (which is not really a serious tool IMHO).

I will probably rent the Focus S70 for a few days and see how it will compare to the BLK. Besides the, at least for me, enormous costs for the scanner itself, I am very unhappy to learn that you are also forced to use proprietary SW from the manufactors. I also heard that Faro is especially expensive in this regard.

As I mentioned I tested the PinPoint SW which is able to read BLK G1 & G2 Data as well as RTC. Compared to the Leica solution it is rather inexpensive.

May I ask you what you have to calculate for the Faro SW ?

Hello Andreas,

I work daily with Veesus plugin and VisualARQ. Before I became independent with AutoCAD and Faro plugins + PointCAB. As Mike_A mentioned Rhino is 1A+++ for laser scanning evaluations. I mainly make 3D models of buildings and landscapes for remodeling in data format IFC, DWG.

Many greetings

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Hi Boris,

that sounds very interesting, since I am also a VARQ user.
Maybe we can use this tread to exchange some advice and best practices.

Hi Andreas

Nice that you also use VisualARQ.
in the VisualARQ forum you will find a lot of tips and advice. Also with new questions the users are very helpful. Have fun.



K, but is there a perfect way to ‘align’ batches of scans?

If there is, then I’d be able to recover almost two decades of raw scan data work I’ve done. :sweat:

If you’re looking to purchase, you should definitely check out the Surphaser scanners as well. Most of my work is in aerospace, but people definitely use Surphaser products for terrestrial work. While I’m consistently blown away by the quality of scans that come from Surphaser, I’ve yet to feel that way about any scan data I’ve worked with from a FARO unit. My impression is that FARO leverages the fact that they are the known industry brand to consistently put out sub par products at a premium price. For short range work I’d take the Creaform products any day of the week over the FARO stuff (putting a scanner on an arm is silly imho), and for longer range stuff I’d take the Surphasers. Everyone’s scan data looks great from a virtual 50-100’ away, it’s when you get close that you really see the problems. For reference, here’s a 777 scan that I did the modeling on that used Surphasers:


looks interesting, I haven’t heard of Surphasers until now … are these also suitable for architectural projects and maybe more important how expensive are these ?

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ikr, I’ve never liked Faro tech lol. I even reviewed their products again today an was like ew! haha

I’ll do some research on Surphaser. Sounds interesting :beers:

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The medium and long range versions absolutely work for architectural work (exterior). Check out the recommended work range on the long range versions:

The medium range versions top out at 50m:

They are uh…appropriately priced for what they are. On the plus side you won’t get locked into some bad FARO software package with steep annual maintenance. IIRC the outfit we use for scanning (Mimic 3D - they also do sales and training and are HIGHLY recommended) use Polyworks for assembling the multiple scans into one mesh, but they might also have some ideas of ways to save money on that end, depending on exactly what kind of workflow you need.


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I know some folks who bought a FARO arm with a laser scanning head. It was a total nightmare on every level - I remember trying to help them when the unit was refusing to work and we were googling “FARO arm laser scanner” and Google auto-suggested that to “FARO arm laser scanner doesn’t work” Grim laughter ensued. Also, when we finally did get it up and running, it was some really awful data to work with - tons of overlap/fitment issues - again putting a laser scanning head on an arm is a recipe for mis-fitting overlapping data sets.

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Excellent tutorial. Thank you very much. I knew that rhino naturally supports point clouds but I was never tried it because I thought it would be extremely slow. Instead i use veesus Plugin. From your experience is it capable to handle 100+ gb of e54 files? It’s common for s building Scan. For veesus it’s not a problem. But it has additional cost. I can’t wait for new tutorials in this section.

I agree with the posts above, the Surphaser is an excellent instrument, so are the Leica “P” Series scanners and Z&F 5010 etc…there is a lot of choice out there.
I have only used the Creaform metrology grade hand held scanners, so no experience with the Faro Arms etc.
As I said, I believe the Faro S70 is great “Bang for Buck”, you can certainly buy better instruments, but it depends on the task that you are doing.

The price jumps dramatically when you start looking at “Survey Grade” 3D scanners (Leica P- Series etc)
The difference is they have incredibly accurate Tilt Compensators, that is they generate close to perfectly level pointclouds.

Yes, this process is called “Registration” and is a bit of a Black Art :slight_smile:

There is “Cloud to Cloud”, Target Based and Co-ordinate controlled methods of joining individual pointclouds together.
I generally use Leica Cyclone, Leica Register 360, Faro Scene etc for registration, all quite expensive.


The Veesus plugin for Rhino is amazing !!
I use it every day., it runs seamlessly in the background and works with native Rhino clipping planes etc.
I read recently where someone was working with a pointcloud of over 1.2 TB ! in Rhino.
The Veesus team are great , support is excellent.

Oh…and also look at CloudCompare, it is free and incredibly powerful for editing / cleaning pointclouds, meshing etc CloudCompare - Open Source project

One more Video that I made using Bongo for Rhino …


Super cool video! There’s something incredibly appealing to me about these types of racing boats - the lines, the proportions, all of it. Like a beautiful weapon.

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I use cloud compare a lot. It’s really good but the display system is not the best. Many times i operate without displaying the cloud. The new qgis point cloud support render extremely fast huge point clouds. It’s relative new i wish they will continue the evaluation. Is there a way to use veesus point clouds for native rhino Operation ,like you ve done in the first video, e.g. fit plane ?

We have used an Artec Leo hand-held scanner successfully for the last 3 years for scanning Yachts for boat canvas products, Sprayhoods, Biminis etc.
What has become apparent is that a static Lidar scanner may be much faster and better suited for projects where a clean line of sight can be achieved to all areas required to be included in the scan.
The post-processing and registration with a handheld scanner is time-consuming and bright white reflective areas can be problematic.

I am considering the purchase of a Faro Core scanner, I would appreciate advice on whether this is the best choice, or if something else were better suited bearing in mind we wouldn’t want to pay more than the cost of the Core and Scene software.

It seems a pain that we will have to learn and use new software besides Artec Studio which we know inside out, I am told we will need Scene and the associated cost for the faro, perhaps there’s a scanner option where the processing can be completed within Artec Studio and not require the cost of a new software product.

All advice and experiences would be greatly appreciated.

The Artec Ray is, IIRC, a de-tuned lower cost Surphaser. That’s likely better quality surfacing than the Faro product, and would likely keep you inside the same software interface.