What are Laser Scanners?

What are Laser Scanners

Last Updated on January 18, 2024 by Team Experts

Large environments have traditionally been captured using single-point measuring equipment including total stations, leveling bobs, piano wire, tape measures, and laser range finders. While they are well-known tools, they are sometimes time-consuming, taking days, weeks, or months depending on the space. Laser Scanners, on the other hand, are non-contact devices that use laser infrared technology to record millions of discrete data points to analyze an item or location, producing detailed 3D scans in minutes.

As people become more aware of the importance of technology, 3D laser scanning is becoming more popular, with several pioneers providing their services in the sector. Tangent Solutions, for example, provides access to the most advanced 3D laser scanning equipment with unrivaled precision to take your product to a whole new level with the help of a group of design experts.

If you have any doubts as to whether or not 3D laser scanning is for you, keep reading to learn how the technology works and what some of the applications of laser scanning are.

How Do Laser Scanners Work?

A laser scanner employs a laser beam that is reflected back to the scanner when it collides with the target object. The phase shift between the transmitting and receiving beams measures the distance traveled by the laser beam in millimeters.

A mirror deflects the laser beam vertically onto the same target. The angle is encoded at the same time as the distance is measured. The rotating scanner head sweeps the laser across the object or region. The geometry needed to interpret the data into three dimensions is provided by objects in the laser’s path that reflect the beam back to the scanner. 

Laser Scanners record measurements on the horizontal and vertical planes in addition to distance, offering a comprehensive set of measurement data.

Data-recording Using Laser Scanners

A 3D laser scanner collects data using two methods: time of flight and triangulation. Both are non-invasive and non-contact, which makes them ideal for most scanning and surveying operations.


Time-of-flight systems, also known as pulse measurement systems, function by producing a single pulse of laser light and evaluating the time required for the laser to be reflected back to a detector on the scanner to determine the distance to the endpoint.


Another type of laser scanning that may be used to obtain 3D data is triangulation scanning. Triangulation is the process of calculating 3D coordinates by constructing triangles from known locations and measuring the placement of a spot in a light beam. A computer then collects these points and saves them for later use, as points are utilized for building models when they are related to one another.

Triangulation is more precise than the time of flight, and many portable scanners employ it to measure tiny objects.

Applications of Laser Scanners

Following are some areas of application of 3D laser scanners:

3D Laser Printers

In a laser printer, a one-dimensional rotating polygon scanner sends a laser diode beam to different spots on an image drum. In order for the drum to later electrostatically attract toner powder solely to the non-illuminated areas, the already electrically charged drum must be discharged at those spots struck by the modulated laser beam. Using the high-powered laser and metal powder, the technology aids in the formation of complicated pieces. 

Since 3D Laser printing, as opposed to traditional 3D printing, employs a beam thinner than a human hair to produce a whole new object, it not only increases accuracy but also saves money.

Oil and Gas Industry

Laser scanners can help with engineering, maintenance, and planning on offshore rigs and refineries. They are also extremely important for documenting complex pipe structures in order to minimize technical glitches or errors. Oil and gas firms may use the technology to create 3D models of sites to help in facility design and fabrication, as well as to enable remote management, remote training, and walk-throughs. Oil and gas firms that employ laser scanning, whether outsourced or in-house, gain a competitive edge through faster project turnarounds, greater safety, and digital remote plant management.

Architecture and Civil Engineering

Architects create their designs using the building owner’s as-built plans. As-built data is not always reliable. Furthermore, due to a lack of time and resources, contractors that conduct a site survey to check site conditions fail to gather specifics. Inaccurate detection leads to inaccuracies in the design plan, which can lead to difficulties later in the construction process, resulting in change orders, production delays, and increased expenses. At the pre-construction stage, the contractors use 3D laser scanning to validate as-built conditions and detect design flaws. 

To Sum Up

Laser scanners are non-contact devices that evaluate an item or environment by recording millions of discrete data points using laser infrared technology, providing comprehensive 3D scans in minutes. These scanners have a variety of uses, and their use is growing in popularity as we strive to make our manufacturing and industrial sectors more efficient.

Read more: What Is Laser Coaching?


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She has over 7 years of experience writing about technology, education, digital marketing, general and business. Her experience in the tech industry (fieldengineer, wowtechub, techsprohub, techinfobeez) has taught her how to write engaging, informative content that makes complex issues accessible to a wide audience. Follow her on Linkedin

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