What is a 3d point cloud? The powerful data we need to do laser scanning

A point cloud is a large set of data points produced by a 3D laser scanner. These points represent the X, Y, and Z geometric coordinates of a single point on an underlying sampled surface. The points begin to build up as the device gets to work. We begin to see an accurate 3D representation of the scene, as more points are collected. 

Whether you’re working in engineering, surveying, or construction, point clouds are used to measure and collect data on buildings, walls, windows, steel structures, etc. 

Let’s explore how a 3D point cloud works. 

The process from scan to model, a scan of the area, is done with a 3D laser scanner. The point cloud is imported into the modeling software to capture the area. During the export phase, the point cloud is imported into a CAD/BIM system. 

How point clouds are accessed

Point cloud data is obtained by visible access to real objects. Surfaces without a line of sight from the scanner won’t be registered. For example, in our “Scanning the Impossible” series, we used RTC360 to scan the metallic Cloud Gate Sculpture in Chicago. Although some of the data was not captured, the information that was obtained showcased pristine results. 

Why we need several scans 

The laser light from the scanner travels in a straight line. We need to take a number of scans from various positions to capture an accurate representation of the subject. The data is extremely reliable and generates a 3D model. 

Related: 3D Laser Scanning: A Reliable Tool in Forensic Science and Public Safety 

Tools in the field 

3D laser scanning software allows users to capture, visualize, extract, analyze, share, and represent point cloud data.

Leica TruView

Leica TruView allows organizations to share point cloud data freely. Anyone can access, view, analyze, and collaborate using the data. You don’t need to have CAD or 3D skills to use the interface, and users can view, pan, zoom, measure, and markup the scans. 

Leica TruView gives access to point cloud data so team members can overlay in the model and have extra information, such as dimensions to extract for accurate and realistic planning. 

Leica Cyclone FIELD 360

Leica Cyclone FIELD 360 mobile-device app is a field companion for the Leica RTC360 3D laser scanner to automatically capture, register, and examine scan and image data on-site. It provides all the deliverables you need in one place. Cyclone modules take users from start to finish for every type of point cloud project.

Watch how it works here. 


Point clouds are a collection of millions or billions of individual measurement points that can be collected by laser scanners. They measure the surface of objects. 

Want to learn more about our services and software? Contact us today! 

Our favorite products featured in this blog

Leica TruView Enterprise Software


Does your organization have a need to, or are you already integrating the use of point cloud data into your productive CAD workflows? If so, you may have realized that some of the real world issues facing these implementations. Many systems do a poor job and even become nearly unusable as the huge data sets common with point clouds start to bog down the system. In addition, the complexity of implementing and using point cloud data can be a real challenge for the CAD drafting teams. Leica JetStream is purpose-built to solve all of these problems, like no other available solution.

The rendering performance and visual fidelity of TruView with its instant loading, and all-the-points, all-the-time rending capability delivers like no other available built-in or add-on solution. This ensures an easy-to-learn, easy-to-use and ultra-high productivity environment for all organizations utilizing point clouds in the CAD processes.

For starters, TruView provides a centralized and easy to use project environment. This is valuable for the IT and project management teams to have an easy-to-use, robust and easy to maintain platform making data distribution, user access control, backups and other IT functions easy and effective.

In addition, the easy to use project interface for the CAD users shortens the learning curve and ensures productivity.

Accessing TruView Projects From CAD

Users access JetStreams point cloud data services with Leica’s leading point cloud productivity CAD plugin platform, CloudWorx with plugins for the world’s most popular CAD platforms. CloudWorx users connected to JetStream benefit from the ultra-fast point cloud rendering and simplified project access methods.

Leica CloudWorx Plug-Ins For Autodesk Products:

Leica CloudWorx Plug-Ins For Other CAD Products:

Accessing TruView Projects With TruView Viewer

Users access JetStreams point cloud data with the new Viewer. TruView Viewer easily connects to the ProjectVault allowing for 3D navigation, scan point of view, fly-through, and basic measuring.
See demo Video

Click here to see a CloudWorx for Revit with JetStream demo

Already implementing TruView into your workflow?

Click here for SOFTWARE UPDATE.

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