24th October 2016 Grzegorz Ciępka

Point clouds in a design workflow

It is critical to understand that the point cloud cannot be in any shape or form automatically translated into a CAD model. It is a myth that cloud 2 CAD conversion can be a fully automatic process. Along with increasing computation power, the software upgrades are huge, but the new algorithms are still only tools shortening a time for some controlled operations. The point cloud interpretation process is still needed for a human element.

So what is a point cloud in a design process? The simplest answer would be –  point cloud is a background.

The designer is rarely interested in the background- point cloud- itself and uses it only as a reference for the geometry.
To understand how a point cloud based design is conducted let’s think in 2D and imagine raster file with some drawing attached to a design file to be re-drawn by someone. The CAD operator needs to replace pixels of a picture with CAD vector objects like lines and arcs.

How do we compare it with point cloud? Let’s imagine that this “raster” gained a non-zero Z coordinate for each pixel and then the image is a three-dimensional.
In this case point cloud can be considered as a three-dimensional raster. Instead of a flat frame with an array of pixels we get a 3D container filled with points, additionality the points my have a unique colour. However, the idea of re-drawing the picture remains unchanged. The points in 3d in many cases still need to be converted in to CAD vector objects in this case three-dimensional.