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Leica BLK360 Laser Scanner & Why We Use It

An Overview of an AMAZING product and how you will benefit from its use.

The Leica BLK360 is one of the most remarkable 3D laser scanners on the market. Some people have yet to discover 3D laser scanners, while others are taking full advantage of the incredible technology. The Leica BLK360 is a device with capabilities that are not only limited to surveyors. Every employee and business owner in the world of Architecture, Engineering, and Construction can benefit from 3D laser scanning. The Leica is a small and lightweight scanner that can capture complete point cloud models for your BIM needs. It is an innovative scanner that is easy to use, fast, and efficient. This laser scanner can capture full interior and exterior design in a matter of minutes. The BLK360 lowers the entry barrier for many firms to go out and capture scan data. Because of its ease of use, the BLK360 is changing the traditional workflow of laser scanning. I am going to tell you all about the Leica BLK360 scanner and why Cadnetics has invested into the future of the AEC industry. I will go over all the specs on the scanner, the software it uses, how to operate the BLK360, why we use it, and how you can get your hands on one today.

Specs

Unlike other 3D scanners, the Leica BLK360 is as small and lightweight as it gets. The scanner stands at about 6.5 inches tall by 4 inches wide, which makes the BLK360 no bigger than a new Samsung Galaxy or a Starbucks venti mocha! Because of the size of this scanner and its weight clocking in at 2.2 pounds, the Leica scanner is incredibly useful for travelling and packing light. It also has a sleek design, made with aluminum exterior and only one operational button. There are three cameras with LED lights located on the device, which are used to take pictures prior to the scan, a thermal sensor, and a battery compartment. The scanner is also equipped with a 64 GB hard drive to store your scans during the day.

The final hardware spec is a LED status indicator wrapped around the bottom of the Leica BLK360 scanner. This “status-light” has 3 modes represented by the colors green, yellow, and red. These indicators are essentially similar to a stoplight, where red means stop, green means go, and yellow means the scanner is in progress of a transition or activity.

One of the pain-points in using laser-scanning tools is taking pictures of your environment prior to the scan. One key feature that makes the Leica scanner superior is the ability to capture a full 360-degree picture of your scanning space in one minute or less. The quality of the photos is great and it is done automatically. The level of accuracy this scanner carries comes from the laser, which captures 360,000 points per second. The Leica is wireless device and can also only be operated from an iPad Pro.

The BLK360 operates on three different levels of scans: low, medium, and high resolution. Here is where the Leica shows its need for speed, where scans can be done in about one minute, 3 minutes, or 5 minutes respectively to each setting. The Leica scanner is considered an imaging laser scanner and differs from survey grade laser scanning. That being said, I believe the Leica to be more flexible compared to others because of the speed and size of the BLK360.

Workflow: Additional software and Equipment

As I briefly mentioned before, the scanner can be operated one of two ways: by the multi-functional button located on the laser scanner, or from an iPad Pro. Autodesk’s Recap Pro software is used on the iPad Pro to control the Leica BLK360. While the BLK is producing the scans, the wireless device connects to the iPad Pro and automatically uploads the scans into the software. This happens in real-time, meaning when you have finished one scan, you can begin another scan without affecting the uploading data. The user can start measuring their 3D scan right away and see the overall visualization.

While the BLK360 works with Recap Pro by Autodesk, the data that is captured in Recap can also be used on almost any other software created by Autodesk. This includes AutoCAD, Revit, Plant 3D, and Civil 3D to name a few. The scanner can also work with the manufacturers software, which is the Leica Cyclone, Jetstream, and Cloudworx application package.

How to Operate the Leica BLK360

The first step in operating the laser scanner is to push the power button to boot up the BLK. Once you see the green ring around the bottom, you are ready to start scanning. Again, to begin the actual scanning, you now have one of two options: you can hit the scanner button once more to activate the device or you can activate the device from the iPad Pro. Once you have activated the scan, the green LED ring turns into a flashing yellow ring and the Leica spins around once in a full 360 to capture the brightness of the scan area. After it has captured the brightness, the BLK360 will start taking pictures of the area in multiple spurts around the room as it rotates. This all happens in about one minute. Finally, the Leica does its job and begins the full scan. The time it takes to scan varies depending on which setting you have chosen. Once the scan is complete, you will see the green ring reappear around the bottom of the device, telling the user that the scan is complete. From here, the user can move the BLK360 to a different area that needs to be scanned until the full environment has been captured into a point cloud.

Once you have completed all of your scans, the software does most of the work for you. Recap or Leica software will stitch all of your scans together and match the colors taken from the pictures of the environment to the scanned data. This gives you a point cloud that accurately and realistically visualizes your newly created model. From here, architects and engineers can begin their design process without the need to revisit the site. Other amazing hidden benefits, such as improved coordination and collaboration between any AEC firms are improved just by using the scanned 3D models.

Why do we use the BLK360?

The Leica scanner is one of the most versatile 3D imaging scanner used in the industry. Because of its lightweight, portable, and powerful scanner, we can use this tool for multiple applications. It is a low cost scanner (compared to others in the market) and is easy to use. We use can the Leica BLK360 to scan any interior and exterior structure, although the power of this scanner really comes into play when capturing interior areas. From mechanical rooms, to obtaining a full layout floor plan, you can capture levels and elevations easily by using the Leica scanner. Many of our clients have experienced the BLK360 for fly-throughs, as-builts, and renderings, showing that this may be the most all-around 3D laser scanner in the AEC market.

How to Get a Leica BLK360

The BLK is a low-cost scanner used in the AEC industry. That being said, the scanner still costs a whopping $15,990, plus the cost of learning how to operate the system’s workflow. Another way of getting ahold of the Leica BLK360 is to rent one from a company online or from your local scanner rental shop. Renting a scanner is cost beneficial, however, finding a scanner to rent may be difficult and involves a high risk associated with damaging the scanner. There are also many scan-to-BIM techniques that novice users may not be aware of.

We recommend finding a 3D laser-scanning partner to assist you with your project. This method will help take away the stress of deciding whether to purchase a scanner or to rent a scanner, and will give you extra time for other important tasks on your project. By hiring a team, we can come to your project site and take the full scan, upload it into our software, and assist you the entire time with your BIM needs. We have served many clients for the last 25 years and we offer expertise in the realm of 3D laser scanning and scan-to-BIM services. To find out more about our company, please check out our services or click here to contact us.

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