Survey2Plan Transparent Logo
Preserving the Past with 3D Laser Scanning Technology

Preserving the Past with 3D Laser Scanning Technology

Preserving the Past with 3D Laser Scanning Technology

History of 3D Laser Scanning

3D laser scanning dates to the 1960s and 1970s, when it was employed in scientific and military applications. In the 1980s, the first valuable systems appeared mainly for industrial applications. Early scanners measured distances using time-of-flight techniques. Triangulation-based scanners became available in the 1990s and were used in virtual reality and entertainment.

Construction, archaeology, and medicine were among the industries that embraced 3D laser scanning as it became more widely available and less expensive in the early 2000s—integrating GPS and IMU technology allowed for aerial and mobile scanning. With LiDAR technology transforming the area, especially for autonomous cars and large-scale mapping, modern improvements have concentrated on improving speed, accuracy, and portability.

Learn more about History of 3D laser scanning

Today, 3D laser scanning is vital across many industries, offering precise and comprehensive data for design, analysis, and decision-making processes.

3D Laser Scanning in Heritage Conservation

Historic preservation has always been crucial for buildings and other noteworthy structures. They are a testament to the skill of builders and designers and are occasionally associated with a notable movement, era, or person.

With 3D laser scanning and reality capture systems, you can rapidly and accurately digitise your buildings and architecture.

This accurate data can help design experts manage historic restoration projects’ intricate planning and design processes more effectively.

Using 3D laser scanning and reality capture systems, you can collect and record all of the buildings’ distinctive surfaces, architectural elements, and even changes in construction throughout time at a level of previously unattainable accuracy.

Our engineers can perform thorough inspections to detect structural integrity issues and vulnerabilities that might be overlooked by the naked eye but are essential for maintaining or restoring historic buildings.

Related: BIM for Heritage Conservation

Advantages of Historic Prevention through Laser Scanning

Advantages of Historic Prevention through Laser Scanning
  1. Historic buildings rarely correspond with antiquated construction plans and blueprints. You can obtain precise blueprints or 3D BIM models of your structure before any work is done, thanks to 3D laser scanning and modelling.
  2. Remove the need for changes to the design or plan and confirm that the on-site work was accurate.
  3. 99% more precise than conventional methods for measuring and planning.
  4. Utilising 3D laser scanning, you can capture, store, and replicate even the most minor details. Future generations can access digital documentation to preserve the current conditions precisely.
  5. Teams can use laser scanners to obtain information from hazardous or hard-to-reach regions without putting themselves in danger.

Real-Life Examples of 3D Laser Scanning

Notre-Dame Cathedral

The construction of Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral began in 1160. But by about 1830, Notre Dame de Paris was so worn that it was being contemplated for demolition instead of maintenance. Later, in 1830, they abandoned the devastation plan. However, a fire on April 15, 2019, damaged Notre Dame’s roof, spire, and wood structure.

Despite the destruction, there was still hope that the cathedral might be rebuilt to its former state.

In 2010, Vassar College architectural history professor Andrew Tallon used a Leica laser scanner to survey the structure.

Even though Tallon is no longer with us, he is still considered a pioneer in his field. The information he left behind is essential to restoring the cathedral, which should take ten to fifteen years to finish.

Stylite Church in Syria

Another building they studied before demolishing and destroying is the Stylites Church in Syria.

Part of the fifth-century church was destroyed in 2016 by a missile strike launched by Russia.

Since 2003, French crews have visited the site often to conduct surveys using laser scanning. This 3D data is invaluable for restoration as it is a historical building record.

Royal Palace- Spain

In 2018, the Royal Palace in Madrid, Spain, was digitally captured using 3D scanning technology to create a 3D model of the building and record its current configuration.

Comprehensive Documentation Serves Several Critical Purposes

Preservation: In the event of damage or destruction, it establishes a permanent record of a heritage site.

Restoration and reconstruction: The planning and execution of repairs or rebuilding projects are aided by detailed data.

Research and analysis: Using 3D models, scholars can examine building methods, architectural styles, and possible trouble spots.

Education and public outreach: Digital documentation promotes public involvement with heritage sites through interactive experiences and virtual tours.

Which 3D Laser Scanners Are Used for Heritage Documentation?

There are two main types of 3D laser scanners used in heritage documentation:
Which 3D Laser Scanners Are Used for Heritage Documentation

Time-of-flight scanners: These scanners provide a very accurate point cloud depiction by timing the time it takes a laser pulse to reach and depart from the item.

Phase-shift scanners: These scanners provide more detail for complex features by projecting a laser pattern onto the item and measuring the phase shift to calculate the distance.

The choice of scanner depends on several factors, including:

  1. Size and complexity of the structure
  2. Desired level of detail
  3. Portability and accessibility requirements
  4. Budgetary constraints

Challenges and Limitations

  1. Cost
  2. Accessibility
  3. Data management
  4. Expertise


We cannot emphasise the value of precision, timeliness, and safety in the building and construction sector. Due to its many uses and advantages, 3D laser scanning will continue to be used and enhanced.

3D laser scanning can help maintain, document, and preserve an ancient building or system. Though a recent technique, 3D scanning for historic preservation has helped protect some of the Past’s most important structures and buildings.

Utilising state-of-the-art LiDAR and 3D laser scanning technologies, 3D laser scanning company, Survey2Plan provides unmatched detail and accuracy.

As building professionals and architects know, our team of experts offers the most precise lidar, reality capture, and 3D measuring solutions currently accessible.

Survey2Plan Transparent Logo

Get in Touch

Phone: 0161 531 6641

Got a project in mind?