Tuesday, May 31, 2011

3D Laser Scanning Services – is this really an “opportunity” for reprographers?

This morning, while I was walking to my “office” (which, this summer, will be the Boston Public Library), I noticed a white panel truck, owned by “Survey Engineering Group”, parked on the side of Clarendon Street, and a list of “survey services”, offered by that firm, was displayed on the side of their truck.

Survey Engineering Group offers a number of different traditional “surveying” services, but one service, listed at the bottom, was “3D Laser Scanning.”

When I did a “wrap-up” post about the recent IRgA Convention in Las Vegas, I wrote about the panel presentation that kicked things off – the presentation I’m speaking of was the one where there were three different speakers, each speaker presented his thoughts about the future of reprographics and the future for reprographers. Two of those speakers indicated that reprographers might consider offering 3D scanning services; that offering that service might be a good opportunity for reprographers.

On the Internet, on the web-site of a “professional engineering surveying services company”, I found what I think is a fairly good definition of what a 3D Laser Scanning service is:

3D Laser Scanning
Laser scanning is a relatively new technology, having been used as a precise survey instrument only since 1998. Now, it is quickly becoming the new industry standard as a way to make very accurate measurements in complicated environments. This is precisely why using this technology is the best solution for measuring as-built conditions inside buildings. This instrument collects survey data points at a rate of 50,000 points per second. It has an effective range of 400’ to 500’. With several “scan” setups inside a room or of a building, a complete 3D model can be made of the existing conditions. These models are then used to create 2D civil or architectural drawings, 3D computer models, and final survey documents.

I haven’t polled reprographers to find out if they are planning to offer 3D Laser Scanning Services, but given the fact that 3D Laser Scanning Services are already offered by professional engineering firms and by survey engineering firms, and considering the fact that those firms have long made a living from providing information about “existing conditions” (of a plat of ground, the size of a structure, etc, etc.), I personally don’t see how reprographers are going to have much success, if any, if they choose to enter the 3D Laser Scanning Services business, unless, of course, they are going to purchase a survey engineering company and morph into a business that is completely outside of the traditional “reprographics services” domain.

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