4 Replies Latest reply on Jul 21, 2013 9:58 AM by Chris Dordoni

    using point clouds?

    Josh Killalea

      sorry if this is in the wrong forum, but i couldn't see anything point cloud specific, mods please feel free to move.


      I have never used point clouds before and would really like to learn, but i am finding it very hard to find any good information on how to work with them. in particular i am interested in learning how to create solids out of the point clouds we get. i am contracted to a mine and they have a heap of point clouds, however they are all HUGE and of things like the open cut pit and very complex buildings etc. to add to the dificulty, most of them are really quite rough in so far as when zoomed out, you can see what they are of, to quite a bit of detail, but as soon as you zoom in to try and select any points you loose all the detail. so i am thinking this might be a bit hard to learn the basics on.


      so i am guessing my question is two stage;


      1) is there anywhere to find good tutorials on how to use them with solidworks? i recall seeing something either in the help or on youtube once using (from memory) some kind of bend, but can't find it again now.


      2) is there anywhere that explains the work flows with point clouds? or what the main purpose of them is? am i asking to much to want to get detailed solids from them?


      also i have seen a video on youtube and it shows the addition of photos to the point cloud to give a 3d photo. is that possible to do with solidworks? or is that a different program again? if it is a different program, any ideas what the program is called?

        • Re: using point clouds?
          Mathew Stevenson

          One option is the addin Scan-to-3D (ScanTo3D) in SolidWorks but will mainly give you surfaces if not a very good point cloud to make a dumb solid. We use RapidWorks from NextEngine. They may give you a 30 demo if you call. RrapidWorks does not need the scanner as it's kind of like a stand alone LT version for RapidForm.

          • Re: using point clouds?
            Chris Dordoni



            A few points ...


            1) Find out if you have the Scan to 3D option (usually included with SolidWorks Premium/Professional)


            2) It will take some time to process your point clouds into something you can use in SolidWorks, especially if you need nurbs surfaces. So you should consider this carefully.


            You will need the Scan to 3D option (SolidWorks Premium/Professional) to work with the point cloud directly in SolidWorks. It will create a triangulated surface that can be replaced by nurbs surfaces, so you could get a more detailed representation because many triangles can be replaced by a nurbs surface. This would allow for quicker display and more responsive handling in SolidWorks. But this can require a lot of time to convert the triangles to nurbs because it is a mostly manual operation.

            3) Triangulated files can be imported as a solid or surface but are limited to about 10,000 - 20,000 triangles if you are importing using the "solid" option, and somewhat more if you are importing using the "surface" option. You could have an object with more triangles and cut it into sections before you imported it.


            Triangulated files imported as a graphics body can contain up to 1,000,000 or more triangles, but are only useful as a visual reference; they cannot be modified or used for snapping.


            Triangulated objects slow display and other operations down a lot.



            NOTE  If you have SolidWorks Standard, you will need some other programs to convert the point cloud before you can open it. You should also talk to your dealer to find out what options, such as upgrading to Premium/Professional, are available that would benefit you.


            The following free tools could get you started in getting your scan data into SolidWorks Standard:

            Meshlab - generates a triangulated surface from a point cloud and reduces the triangle count.

            Triangle Mesh Completer - patch areas of missing data

            netfabb Basic - repair a triangulated object so it is a solid (watertight) or has large areas of connected triangles.


            Meshlab can texture a pointcloud using photos.

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