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ReCap and point clouds: should it be part of your BIM toolkit?

Point clouds are quickly gaining momentum in the construction industry whilst ReCap seems to be one of the ‘go-to’ software solutions to process them. This article will help you understand how they work and whether you should add them to your BIM toolkit.

Laser scans and drones are set to revolutionise surveys

Although traditional surveys with surveyors and total stations are still being used, we are witnessing a clear shift in how surveys are undertaken. Newer technologies for reality capture, such as LiDAR, laser scanning and drones, are taking over a significant part of the surveying work. And it is clear why: they are quicker, safer and provide both more quality and quantity of data. These relatively new systems may still require some human interaction on site, such as an operative to control the laser scanner or the drone. However, they reduce significantly the man-hours required, thus reducing the exposure to risks.

Thanks to advancements in their technology, drones are taking a lead in the sector. It has become easier than ever to get a full survey of a site area in hours, not days or weeks. The accuracy of the GPS installed together with the innovative distance measuring tools embedded in the cameras means that drones can compete with the best traditional surveying systems. Drones are not only capable of generating point clouds, but also orthophotos. One of the very few downsides of using drones and laser scanning is that the collected data often requires more time to process.

ReCap – point clouds made easy

Luckily, nowadays there are software solutions to make our lives easier. And one of the leading tools for processing orthophotos and point cloud data is ReCap. Owned by Autodesk, it is one of the engineering industry’s ‘go-to’ software solutions for 3D scanning from photographs and laser scans. ReCap is a reality capture software which helps users process the raw data extracted from drones and laser scans in an easy and simple way.

Autodesk has two options to choose from: ReCap and ReCap Pro. ReCap is the free version with limited capabilities, whilst ReCap Pro is the paid version with full functionalities. The free version has basic viewing and editing capabilities of reality capture data. ReCap Pro, however, includes automated registration, clean-up of scans and access to drone features. Whilst the free version of ReCap may be enough if you just need to visualise data, or directly export it onto other software packages, if you work with drones or want to get the maximum out of your laser scanning data, you will need to go for the Pro version.

Why you should use ReCap for point clouds in your BIM projects

One of the main advantages of getting ReCap Pro is that it includes ReCap Photo. This genius tool can process drone photography to create 3D representations of your sites. It can also create point clouds, meshes and orthophotos directly within the software. Although both versions – free and paid – provide a basic level of collaboration through A360, if you really want to boost your BIM processes, the Pro version will have you covered. It includes tools for mark-up, measure, communication, and collaboration in the cloud. Besides, it has a built-in solution to create videos and animations from your point clouds.

Another good reason to get ReCap is that it integrates with other Autodesk software. If you are already using complimentary Autodesk products, ReCap is probably the best add-on to your BIM toolkit. For infrastructure work, ReCap allows you to export the point clouds and orthophotos directly to InfraWorks and Civil 3D. If you work in the architecture and buildings sector, you can export your reality capture data to Revit. And if you go for the Pro version, you can even integrate your point clouds from ReCap into Navisworks.

In summary, if you want to take surveys to the next level, ReCap is just the next logical addition to your BIM toolkit! You can get a free trial from Autodesk here.

Have you already used ReCap on your BIM projects? Let us know in the comments what you think about it!


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