3D point cloud

A point cloud is a set of three-dimensional points, acquired through scanning techniques such as the laser scanner, that represent the shape and geometry of an object.

Learn how to view, manage, and leverage the point cloud to support BIM design with usBIM.

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What is point cloud data | usBIM | ACCA software
What is a point cloud | usBIM | ACCA software

What is a point cloud?

A point cloud is a set of data points in a 3D space, each characterized by spatial coordinates (x, y, z) that indicate its position in space and any intensity values (such as color or depth).

These points are detected by photogrammetry or 3D laser scanners and represent the surface of an object or environment.

Point clouds are used as a starting point for creating detailed 3D models or for exploring and evaluating reliefs, architectures and properties with extreme ease and precision.


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What are the most common point cloud file formats | usBIM | ACCA software

What are the most common point cloud file formats?

There are several file formats for point clouds, each with their own advantages and limitations. Some of the most common formats include:

  • PLY (Polygon File Format): Widely used format that supports of both ASCII and binary data storage;
  • LAS (LiDAR Data Exchange Format): A format used to store LiDAR point cloud data providing good compression and support for metadata.
  •  E57 (ASTM E57 Standard): a versatile, vendor-neutral format that supports various data types, including point clouds, images, and metadata.

These are just a few examples, but there are many other types of point cloud formats highly dependent on a project's specific requirements. 

Be part of the AEC digital revolution and harness the power of viewing point cloud file formats with ease. (E57 viewer, LAS viewer, XYZ viewer, PLY viewer, etc) directly online without having to install any software with usBIM. 


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Converting point cloud data to 3D model

Are you interested in testing the usBIM viewer but don't currently have a point cloud? Access usBIM and utilize any of the preexisting sample files that have been shared with you!

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What are point cloud files used for | usBIM | ACCA software

What are point cloud files used for?

Point clouds are an essential tool for acquiring precise information relating to the shape and size of a real object. They are used in multiple sectors from civil engineering, industrial design and architecture. Engineers and architects can use point clouds to acquire accurate information concerning buildings and structures and facilitate the design and planning of renovation or restoration interventions.

Point clouds can also be used to analyze the state of a structure and identify surface irregularities, through visual inspection of points or for maintenance and monitoring activities leveraging the integration with digital twins and geographic information systems (GIS).


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How do I get hold of a Point Cloud file?

A point cloud can be acquired using different techniques:

Photogrammetry | usBIM | ACCA software


Photogrammetry is a surveying technique that uses image processing to obtain position, shape, and size of an object being detected. This process is divided into three phases: capture, frame orientation, and return. Photogrammetric surveys can be performed in aerial mode, using drones, or terrestrial with the use of a camera.

Laser scanners | usBIM | ACCA software

Laser Scanner

Laser scanners are special devices that allow object detection thanks to a laser beam. The laser light hits the surface of the object and in relation to the time necessary to bounce back, the device's angle and other position factors, it is then possible to identify the exact position in space of each point of the object. There are three types of laser scanners: Time-of-Flight (TOF) Scanners, Phase-Based Scanners and Triangulation Scanners.

Drone | usBIM | ACCA software


Drones provide precise and reliable aerophotogrammetric surveys. There are three macrocategories of drones: Fixed-Wing Drones, Multirotor Drones, Single-Rotor or Helicopter Drones The operations necessary to obtain the aerophotogrammetric surveys include the identification of the area to be detected, the choice of take-off and landing points, flight planning, image acquisition, frame orientation and scene reconstruction. 

How to view a Point Cloud | usBIM | ACCA software

How to View a Point Cloud?

Viewing and managing point clouds can be achieved using: 

  • specific viewing and management software that require extreme hardware requirements;
  • cloud solutions, such as usBIM.pointcloud, that harness the power of the cloud to enable point clouds of any size to be managed with any type of device.

usBIM.pointcloud is a free application of the integrated usBIM system with which you not only view and manage quickly in the browser point clouds and textured meshes of any size but work in a simple and fast way on many aspects of the design and accelerate the entire collaboration process:

  • coordinate multidisciplinary project teams, professionals and companies located in different places even if they work with different software;
  • get access to an instant messaging service with advanced team working functions;
  • organize online meetings and conference calls with your work colleagues;
  • share data, documents and 3D/BIM models in the cloud.

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Why use usBIM to view point clouds | usBIM | ACCA software

Why use usBIM to view point clouds?

  • You no longer need to download any files to your computer and occupy your storage.

  • Rapid data access: thanks to our high-performance cloud technology, point cloud data access is immediate enabling real-time analysis and visualization.
  • Simplified collaboration: Using usBIM.pointcloud allows all team members to collaborate simultaneously on the same model even if they are physically distant.
  • Effective management of point clouds: usBIM.pointcloud is not simply a viewer but a tool with advanced functions to join multiple models even with different file extensions; make multiple sections of the point cloud; make measurements on objects, areas and angles not measurable on the real model and much more.
  • Saving time and money: usBIM.pointcloud completely removes the need to download large files to your computer or purchase expensive data processing software.
  • Ease of use: the intuitive and easy-to-use user interface makes usBIM.pointcloud accessible and usable even for inexperienced users.
  • Compatibility with any device: usBIM.pointcloud allows you to manage point clouds from any device with a simple Internet access (PC, tablet, smartphone, etc.).
  • BIM-GIS integration: you can place the point cloud in its real context thanks to BIM-GIS integration and associate annotations (links and videos) with the model to add useful information and data during the design, maintenance and management of the work.

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How to Create a 3D Model from a Point Cloud?

Creating a 3D model from the point cloud requires an intricate process that requires the use of advanced modeling tools to transform the coordinates of the points into a three-dimensional geometric model. After that, the true digitization of the model is achieved with the reconstruction of the BIM model of what was detected. This is certainly the most delicate and complex phase. In fact, from the three-dimensional surface (consisting of mesh) that represents the detected work, it is necessary to move to a parametric 3D model composed of objects such as walls, windows, doors, etc.

How to Create a 3D Model from a Point Cloud | usBIM | ACCA software

Considering that existing buildings rarely present characteristics of regularity and repetitiveness, the recognition of objects becomes a very complex operation.

With Edificius, you have advanced automatic object recognition functions that allow you to identify the various architectural elements directly inside the point cloud. This particular methodology allows you to get a consistent BIM model, faithful to reality, almost automatically and without having to rebuild the architectural model from scratch.

Other advantages offered by the Edificius pointcloud to BIM software are:

  • integration with the usBIM.pointcloud application with which you can open, manage, federate and quickly acquire point clouds of any size and complexity, without any limit;
  • the ability to support all major point cloud formats and create derived BIM models in a few simple steps;
  • the possibility to superimpose the architectural model over the point cloud for checks and validation processes to automatically generate construction drawings, axonometric views, BoQs and photorealistic renders or even navigate in first person using Real-Time Rendering or Virtual Reality.

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Why use Edificius to create 3D models from a point cloud | usBIM | ACCA software

Why use Edificius to create 3D models from a point cloud?

  • Maximum freedom: transform your point cloud into a BIM model whatever the format.

  • High accuracy in creating BIM models: Leverage advanced software technology to view the point cloud from different angles, create vertical and horizontal sections, automatically recognize parametric objects, and quickly create the BIM model.

  • Maximum sharing with the work team: Easily share BIM model data with other team members, view and collaborate on point cloud analysis even remotely.

  • Complete and automatic technical documentation: automatically generates graphic drawings, axonometric views, executive tables, calculations, and make photorealistic directly from the 3D point cloud.

  • Save time: take advantage ofthe integration with usBIM.pointcloud to import into Edificius only the portion of cloud you want to work on and reduce processing times.

  • Ease of use: you have an intuitive and customizable user interface.

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Examples of point cloud applications in the construction industry

Points Cloud to create a Digital Twin | usBIM | ACCA software

Points Cloud to create a Digital Twin

Point clouds can be used to create a “Digital Twin” of a physical structure or environment. A Digital Twin is a virtual replica of a real-world object or system that can be used to monitor, analyze, and optimize its performance.

Digital twins created from point clouds can be used for a variety of purposes, including real-time monitoring of facility conditions, simulation of future scenarios, optimization of operations, and predictive maintenance. In addition, Digital Twins can support collaboration between different stakeholders, enabling engineers, architects and project managers to work together on a single digital platform. Using point clouds to create a Digital Twin can lead to greater efficiency, time savings, and reduced lifecycle costs for facilities and physical environments.

Point cloud and GIS to create geospatial representations of the construction environment | usBIM | ACCA software

Point cloud and GIS to create geospatial representations of the construction environment

Point clouds can be integrated with geographic information systems (GIS) to create detailed geospatial representations of the construction environment.

The point cloud provides a vast amount of information about the structure and geometry of the building and surrounding area that can be used as input data in the creation of geospatial maps using GIS systems.

Once point cloud data is integrated with GIS map data, construction and engineering professionals can:

  • examine and analyse the relationships between the surrounding structures and geographical features, such as topography, land use and existing infrastructure;
  • get a much more complete view of the construction environment and its implications;
  • assess the impact that the building will have on the surrounding area.

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