In October 2010, FARO Technologies launched the Focus3D laser scanner--and single-handedly changed the laser scanning market. The compact, lightweight device reduced the cost of buying a laser scanner by about 60 percent, bringing the technology within the reach of numerous service providers that previously hadn’t been able to consider laser scanning. “We pride ourselves on our ability to be disruptive from a technology standpoint,” said CEO Jay Freeland during the company’s first U.S. 3D Documentation Conference, which was held Feb. 21-22 in Orlando, Fla.
Indeed, the Focus3D has been so successful that Freeland said the scanner is now FARO’s primary area of focus. The company’s scanner sales have tripled over the past year and a half, and surveying is one of its biggest markets. The company’s goals remain ambitious--Freeland said he believes everything in the world should be documented in 3D. “We intend to solve that problem,” he said, “through democratization of technology and getting it into the hands of the masses.”
Dr. Bernd-Dietmar Becker, product manager of FARO Technologies and one of the lead developers of the Focus3D system, explained that 3D documentation is the capture of the 3D geometry and image of real objects accurately and reproducibly by machine at a certain point in time. He noted that the benefit of 3D documentation is that it allows people to visually understand 3D reality from an informational model. Although surveying is more than 3D documentation, he said, surveying only captures a few points and defines where things have to be. When 3D objects are involved, the ability to capture accurate, dense geometry matters.
Becker said laser scanning technology is moving toward more automatic data processing, more efficient data management and improved web-based dissemination of information.
Such advances will undoubtedly benefit the The Smithsonian Institution, where a massive effort is under way to scan 137 million objects. During the keynote address, Vincent Rossi, a 3D digitization coordinator for the institution, said that less than 2 percent of the Smithsonian’s collection can currently be seen by the public at any given time. Rossi and his project teammate, Adam Metallo, hope to change that by using 3D documentation to create 3D printed exhibits and models that can be displayed at schools and museums around the nation. “We’re using 3D documentation to tell stories about history,” Rossi said.
The Smithsonian has already benefited from technology advances such as the Focus3D, but much work remains to be done. Rossi said the team is hoping to collaborate with others who share their passion to document the past.
The event was attended by 275 people and included a number of informative presentations and workshops. The company wouldn’t say when it would release its next technology innovation--but Freeland promised that FARO would continue to be a disruptive force.
For more information about the FARO 3D Documentation Conference, visit www.3d-documentation-conference.com. FARO's website is www.faro.com.