By Michelle Rasmussen
Point Clouds are dense groupings of points created by 3D scanners. As more firms use 3D scanners to capture existing conditions, it becomes more important for CAD users to learn how to take full advantage of the collected point cloud data. General AutoCAD has several tools that allow you to quickly create linework from point clouds. Additionally, AutoCAD Civil 3D can use point cloud data to create a terrain surface.
The Autodesk ReCap software enables the creation of a point cloud project file (RCP) that references multiple indexed scan files (RCS). It converts scan file data into a point cloud format that can then be viewed and modified in other Autodesk software products.
Whether you are in general AutoCAD or Autodesk Civil 3D, clicking (Autodesk Recap) on the Insert tab > Point Cloud panel launches the Autodesk Recap software. Using Recap, you can: import, modify, and clean up point cloud data from a scan or photo project. The file formats created by Autodesk Recap are faster and more efficient than the previous file formats. Then, you use (Attach) on the Insert tab > Point Cloud panel to insert the point cloud into the drawing file. Here are just a few additional facts that might interest you:
- As with XREFs, images, and other externally referenced files, you can attach and manage point clouds using the External References Manager.
- Point cloud object snaps have been added to the 3D Object Snap tab in the Drafting Settings dialog box and the 3D Object Snap options in the Status Bar.
- In a point cloud, you can use the Object option in the UCS command to align the active UCS to a plane.
- Dynamic UCS now aligns to a point cloud plane according to point density and alignment.
- Point cloud transparency can be adjusted enabling you to see beyond the cluster of points.
- The cropping tools in the Point Cloud contextual tab>Cropping panel enable you to display only the information that is required for your project
Attaching a point cloud is the same whether you are working in general AutoCAD or AutoCAD Civil 3D. In a webcast I did a few months ago, I showed how to work with point clouds when using the AutoCAD software. Click here below to watch the webcast recording now.
In order to take that webcast a step further for AutoCAD Civil 3D users, here are the steps on how to turn point clouds into a terrain surface.
How To: Create a Surface from Point Clouds in AutoCAD Civil 3D.
- In the Home tab > Create Ground Data panel, expand Surfaces and select (Create Surface from Point Cloud).
- In the model, select the point cloud or select any of the following options in the command line, as shown in the figure below.
- In the Create TIN Surface from Point Cloud dialog box - General page, type a surface name, set the surface style, and render material, as shown in in the figure below. Click Next>.
- In the Create TIN Surface from Point Cloud dialog box - Point Cloud Selection page, select the Point clouds or parts of the Point clouds, as shown in the figure below. Click Next>.
- In the Create TIN Surface from Point Cloud dialog box - Non-Ground Point Filtering page, select a filter method and click Create Surface, as shown in the figure below.
- In the Point Cloud Processing in Background message box, click Close.
I want to hear from you. Are you using Point Clouds? If you have any examples you would like to share you can post them in the comments below.