Out with the Old, In with the Handheld 3D Imager

Restorations are expensive, require strict attention to detail and there’s no margin for error. Historic façade renovations, especially with their decorative elements, must exactly match the originals. To do this, I need assurance that the measurements are always right. This is critical to making sure the buildings will be preserved as they were originally built.

I used to rely on manual measurement methods, like tape measures, cameras, and a pen and paper. This measurement process took weeks of long days and nights to ensure the measurements were accurate. Then I switched to a handheld 3D imager. Now I take a picture on the job site, send the measurements to a CAD pro on the team, and by the time I get back to the office, I can dig into the scans.

Accuracy, Flexibility and Online Collaboration 

The handheld imager makes measuring easier, faster and more precise. It has taken my company’s work to a higher level, helping me save time and money and enabling me to stand out as a contractor known for my dedication to excellence in historical stonework.

I compare using a handheld imager to being as easy as taking a photo with a smartphone. However, the imager offers more power in its ability to accurately capture the details and dimensions of a space in 3D.

It also offers flexibility. When I need to travel to a quarry to evaluate stone before it’s cut, I can hand off the imager to someone on the team. Knowing it’s so easy to use, anybody can quickly master it. This saves additional expenses of hiring a third party to take accurate measurements.   

And when safety or space is a concern, handheld technology is ideal. Sometimes it’s not possible to get into certain spaces to measure. They might be too small, too high or too complex. For example, if you need to take measurements of second-story windows but there’s no space for scaffolding, there’s no way to get up there. A handheld imager can accurately capture those measurements.

Another benefit for my team is when the imager picks up on measurements that I may not think I need at the moment, but that data ends up being very important to the project. For example, sometimes I am only looking for the width of a wall. Because the entire area is scanned, the measurements are beneficial to other contractors on the job. The ability to get the radius, negative returns, draft and other information from the scans is tremendous.

The imager also easily connects to file transfer services and popular industry applications. In the shuffle of my work, manual measurements and drawings can be hard to track down. But the pictures aren’t. The images and measurements captured by the imager can be sent to Google Drive, to Gmail, to OneDrive, etc. 

Rugged Enough for Busy Urban Construction Sites

For one project I am working on, there could be 15 different trades onsite at any given time and all of them can benefit from having accurate measurements and scans of a space. This includes plumbers, steelworkers and other contractors that also require precise measurements.  

Before I had a handheld imager, I was so busy that I’d hire someone else to document existing conditions. Yet there were no guarantees that those measurements were accurate. If everybody on a job site does this, there’s a greater risk of error. Now that everybody on a site has access to the same accurate information, projects can be completed faster without compromising quality.

The technology is durable enough to go onsite for heavy construction projects. Along with stone facade restoration experts, I believe others can benefit from this technology, including engineers and construction professionals working on tunnels and bridges. It can help anyone that needs to take accurate measurements in 3D and get results immediately that can be shared with the team. 

About the Author

Jim McMahon
Jim McMahon is president of Structural Stone Concepts, which specializes in the historic facade preservation of schools and other buildings in New York City.

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