Facility Scanning with the New F5 Handheld

In the world of industrial facilities construction, effective space planning in the installation phase can prevent major time and cost overruns. The new class of building CAD software called BIM, or Building Information Management, helps before the construction phase to prevent occurrences of clash and other space problems. Essentially, the building including its mechanical systems, are modeled in a 3D digital environment to prove out the design, construction, and operation of the project especially space planning to avoid clash.

However when retrofitting or modifying within an existing facility, the architect must somehow account for the as-built location of structures and components in the digital model. At this point, 3D laser scanning is fast becoming the accepted accurate method to dimensionally document existing and often complicated spaces quickly. These scanners are moved throughout the building to capture millions of 3D points, ultimately forming a high resolution point cloud of the areas the spherical scanners can see.

But what about the areas these scanners cant effectively see? What about the tight spaces behind, under, and above complex MEP components?

A new 3D imager, called the F5, from Mantis Vision in Israel, enables surveyors and engineers to create the same high-resolution high-accuracy 3D point clouds of complicated spaces by literally walking thru these areas and taking video scans with a handheld device. This way you can not only fill in areas left blank by the spherical scanners, you can capture many more area faster just by walking around.

The new F5 handheld scanner is very simple to use, requires no set-up, no tripod, no external power, and even no external lighting. Walk into the space of interest, power up the integrated ultra-mobile mini-computer and battery-powered imager and start recording of the scene. Within seconds of moving and panning, as you would with a regular video camera, youve captured large areas within the 15-ft dynamic imaging range. With a capture rate of 10 frames per second, each image frame contains up to 50,000 points yielding up to 500,000 3D points in one second. So in just a few seconds, the F5 creates a very high resolution 3D point cloud.

The F5 comes complete with post-processing software, called MVP. MVP functions similar to video editing software: you read in the captured AVI video, mark the start/stop frames, automatically convert each frame into 3D points, and then automatically align each consecutive frame forming an accurate dense 3D point cloud of the scene of interest. Multiple captures can be composited into a single aligned point cloud. Depending on the nature of the scenes, the process can be quite simple and rapid, taking only a few minutes in all.

Editing inadvertently collected data points from neighboring objects are easily removed using the typical circle-select/delete tool. Once aligned and cleaned as desired, the point cloud can be output as ASCII with intensity (extremely valuable for downstream visualization), or the cloud can be meshed and output as a PLY file. Either output format provides for industry-neutral import into virtually all 3rd party point cloud processing softwares including Pointools, Cyclone, Geomagic, PolyWorks, and Rapidform, among others.

The Mantis Vision F5 brings an entirely new 3D imaging capability into the hands of surveyors, engineers, and problem solvers. Imagine needing to capture the complex as-built geometry of a loaded industrial space in order to layout and plan the installation of a large new component. Now you can pull the F5 from your tool belt, scan around the area, and process the 3D capture back in the office into an accurate CAD model ready for import into your favorite BIM software. Or you can endlessly extract dimensions directly from the dense 3D point cloud, create a visualization, animation, or perform various analysis.

The Mantis Vision F5 was created in Israel for rugged terrain and field applications. It is ready for industrial use for facilities measurement today. Contact Direct Dimensions, Inc., the North American distributor, for more information about this amazing new 3D tool and visit our F5 website for much more information including live action videos, technical specifications, and suggestions for many more applications.

About the Author

Michael Raphael

Michael Raphael ... Michael earned a BS degree in Engineering Science and Mechanics from Virginia Tech, followed by a Masters of Engineering Administration from George Washington University. During his 10 years at Lockheed Martin as an engineer responsible for solving aerostructures manufacturing quality problems, Michael co-developed the FaroArm portable CMM and became the first user on the planet! In 1995, he founded Direct Dimensions, Inc., providing rapid solutions to 3D problems!

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