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A Quick Guide To Understanding the Costs of 3D Laser Scanning

Posted: March 7, 2024
A Quick Guide To Understanding the Costs of 3D Laser Scanning

3D laser scanning has become an indispensable tool in various industries, from construction and engineering to historical preservation. Understanding the factors that affect the price of 3D laser scanning services involves considering the details and scope of the specific project. A quick guide to understanding the costs of 3D laser scanning will give potential users of these services some perspective.

Remember that 3D laser scanning can be challenging as several variables come into play. But the data gathered can be invaluable in design, planning, and construction, saving money on costs associated addressing unexpected issues in structures undergoing renovation or major remodeling.

What Is 3D Laser Scanning?

3D laser scanning is a high-precision technology that captures the shape and appearance of physical objects using a line of laser light. This noncontact, nondestructive technique digitally captures the geometry of physical objects using the light in the form of a point cloud. The laser scanner accurately records millions of data points in a short time, creating detailed 3D representations of complex environments and geometries. Using lasers renders less reliable manual measurements unnecessary.

The collected data can then be processed to produce a digital or physical three-dimensional model of the object, which can be used for inspection, modification, or replication purposes.

How Project Size and Scope Affects Cost

The size and scope of the project directly affects the cost of 3D laser scanning. At the lower end, smaller projects could cost as little as $2,000 to $3,000, while large projects involving multiple structures on an institutional campus or a vast industrial site could exceed $100,000.

Define the scope of your as-built laser scanning project to inform your discussions with professional scanning services. Scanning a small storefront to aid in developing remodeling plans will be significantly less expensive than scanning an occupied multi-story office building.

Equipment Needed

The level of detail required for your project will influence the type of equipment needed, which, in turn, affects the overall cost. Ask the scanning service company you’re considering working with to explain the types of equipment they use, their complexity, and how using one or the other type of equipment could affect the cost of their services. If the service must rent or acquire more sophisticated equipment to provide the level of accuracy and the resolution you require, expect the cost of the project to rise accordingly.


Project timelines also factor into the cost of 3D laser scanning services. Service providers often charge on an hourly basis, with rates typically falling between $100 and $200 per hour. Therefore, the complexity of the project, which determines the time spent on scanning and data processing, can significantly impact the final cost.

Additional Services

Beyond basic scanning, additional services like converting scans to building information models (BIM) or creating digital or physical 3D models can add to the cost. Talk with a professional scanning service about how you expect to receive your data, including whether you need a BIM, a digital 3D CAD model, or a 2D diagram.

While this quick guide to understanding the cost of 3D laser scanning can provide a general understanding for broad budgetary purposes. But it's important to remember that each project is unique. Therefore, it's beneficial to consult with a professional service provider to get a detailed estimate based on your specific requirements.