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! 

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