The use of laser scans for the documentation of spaces effectively has significantly developed at the end of the 90s with the entry of more portable equipment such as the CYRAX 2400. Later the industry leaped in 2010 with the introduction of the Leica ScanStation C10 and in 2011 with the market introduction of the FARO Focus3D model, which democratizes the use of scanners by offering greater portability at a very affordable price.

1. Why a 3D laser scanner?

3D laser scanning has applications in different industries, such as construction and manufacturing. Projects with a laser scanner allow us to offer clients accurate and high-speed data.

Usually, people need to learn how a device like this works and even learning how a 3D laser works and its capacity for measurement and surveying would not be feasible. To know which 3D laser scanner, we must see the object's or space's dimensions to be captured and adequately use the captured images.

For many years terrestrial laser scanners dominated the market due to their accuracy and portability with brands such as Leica, FARO, and Trimble, as mobile scanning did not offer the portability or accuracy required to generate a reliable point cloud. Next, learn how these devices' rays deployed at the speed of light can help make the job easier. Learn more on our blog: Top 5 terrestrial laser scanners of 2022

In recent years, thanks to software advances and refinements of SLAM algorithms, as well as the integration of smaller sensors into portable equipment, mobile scanning evens its chances of being an accurate and fast option.

2. What is the SLAM algorithm

SLAM, or Simultaneous localization and mapping, is the technology based on computational geometry and computer vision used for mapping the environment through a laser tracking its location concerning the mapped environment typically used in autonomous vehicle navigation.

3. Current situation of mobile scanning

Although the quality of the sensors and their precision have greatly improved, progress in software issues is what has been essential to offer precise mobile scanning solutions. Although the sensors can continue to improve in terms of dimensions and portability, their cost/benefit ratio concerning precision increases marginally compared to advances in registration algorithms in the assembly of point clouds. In short, future advances in software will be more significant than in hardware for mobile and terrestrial scanners.

4. When to use mobile scanning

  • If the objective is to lift the most significant number of square meters in the shortest possible time, sacrificing a little precision.
  • If the use of your results focuses more on cooperation between departments or information users since its lower weight allows a better distribution of the point cloud among collaborators and better navigation of virtual tours when being on the web without the need to have a powerful computer in terms of video card and RAM.
  • For conceptual engineering, the most important thing is to validate interference spaces without needing to vectorize to the millimeter.
  • For maintenance tasks and including multimedia information and documents to points of interest.


  • When manually vectoring, the visibility of the cloud (due to its point density) is better than a terrestrial scanner.
  • Its precision at very long distances means that it has to be scanned from a closer distance so that the angular deviation of the sensor does not affect so much, which means that certain areas in very high interior roofs are not as reliable in smaller dimensions, which is Say wanted. That said information can be used for a conceptual engineering issue where a few centimeters do not affect us.
  • It does not offer pinpoint accuracy for precise deviation analysis.

5. When to use a ground scan.

  • When precision is the most important, sacrificing the weight of files and collaboration between users
  • After making a conceptual engineering decision and proceeding with detailed engineering, a terrestrial laser scan is the most recommendable option for vectoring due to its precision.
  • In detailed studies such as a flatness study to validate flatness and leveling of a floor (FF-FL index).
  • In studies of precise deviations, such as the roundness of a tank or a ship's hull.
  • If what is sought is to vectorize minor details of equipment, such as instruments or accessories, terrestrial scanning is the best choice.


  • Huge files are generated, which reduces the ease of sharing information with other users.
  • Robust machines are required in terms of processor, memory and video card specifications to register the different scans.
  • The capture of information in the field is slower.
  • In conclusion, both types of scanners are complementary depending on the use and scope of the contracted works and the dimensions of the areas, their interrelation and the support of topographic control in carrying them out.