Discussion about Point Cloud Processing for macOS SKU user

I’m a 5 year user of Sketchup Pro and Layout and I produce design and engineering drawing packages for millwork and cabinet shops. I have landed a customer that is pursuing a new revenue stream in a non-standard millwork genre. The project required getting a point cloud scan of a large object that the millwork will be fitting inside.

I am a macOS user and have discovered that all the available plugin’s for point cloud processing are all windows based apps. There are none that will work for macOS.

First of all I would be interested to know if anyone knows better than me that this is truly the case and if the Trimble Scan Essentials will be producing a macOS version.

Secondly, I am wondering if there are any users on the forums here who are on PC based platforms and use Sketchup Pro (please don’t send a PM if you don’t have SKU Pro) and who work consistently with point clouds. I would be interested in having someone who is skilled in that work processing this 3D scan I have of the “enclosure” so that I can bring it into SKU and create parts for the build.

Yes, that would be nice, however, official statements aren’t done here on this forum and the Trimble Scan Extension is developed by another division of Trimble, Geospatial.

I am also on a Mac, but I have made a bootcamp partition for this. (Relatively easy, intel macs only)

Then you can use the desktop version of Trimble Connect (also Windows only) to upload and convert the pointcloud to Trimble Connect cloud.

Once converted, you could take measurements from it and model based on the ‘as build’ data on the Mac platform.

@dimav83 @Jacques @JQL

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I´m working consitently with Point Clouds on Architecture.

I’ve used Trimble Scan Essentials and Undet.

Undet is several steps ahead but Trimble Scan Essentials is keeping up very fast.

I’ve used them mainly on topographical surveys of land and context modelling in both rural and urban contexts. I’ve done it mainly based on Drone image capturing and cellphone photo capturing for smaller or interior spaces. I’ve never used actual laser scanning for buildings as it’s much more expensive and the kind of projects I’ve been trying it on don’t require that kind of accuracy. If I did, I could be as accurate as with any other software but modelling it all in the friendly sketchup environment.

The accuracy required for millworking should also be possible.

It’s really worth trying both Undet and Trimble Scan Essentials, though I know nothing about Macs.

Hope this helps


What laser scanner do you plan to use? I have good experience with Trimble TX8 (potentially would consider X7 if buying now, although depends on size of area and time - TX8 has better range and speed) and RealWorks for scan registration and segmentation. In this case, I think, Scan Essentials is a no brainer, as works directly with the same files. No extra export/import required.

Extra note - point cloud processing is quite demanding on resources. E.g. for new laptops for the team I got Dell Precision’s 7750 with top processor (i9 or Xeon) and 64GB RAM, plus several Samsung 980Pro 1TB NVMe SSD’s. On my current Precision 5510 registering a large point cloud could easily take 2-4 full days (to be precise, days and nights). And to transfer projects between team members - Crucial X8 external SSD.
Surely there are powerful Mac’s around, but usually not that powerful. And I’m not aware of Mac versions of point cloud registration software.

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I work with Point Clouds in SketchUp Pro 2019 on a PC all the time.

I use a Faro 3D laser scanner to capture building geometry and build frameless glass structures straight onto the resulting Point Clouds. Its uncanny how accurately everything fits.

The Point Cloud files are usually between 1GB & 8GB depending on how many scans are combined in the Point Cloud but I have seem them over 12GB.

I use Undet to link the Point Clouds to SketchUp and the resulting files are literally just a few MB.

The Undet plugin allows the geometry to be modelled easily in SketchUp for the creation of visuals or it can be used create highly accurate surface meshes enabling the production of mm accurate detail drawings in Layout.

A colleague of mine uses Vectorworks on a Mac and he has never found satisfactory meshing software to replicate what I can do using SketchUp & Undet.

As a workaround I often create a mesh file for his Point Clouds using SketchUp which he imports the into Vectorworks.

Hope thats of some interest.

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Thanks for comments. I’m in the process of getting Mac upgrades so I can do bootcamp but not ready for another few weeks.

Don’t have a scanner…purchased the point cloud scan from a scanning company.

I’m jealous :slight_smile: (my laser scans are usually 30-60GB per site, and several large sites with only a preview level of extracted details is a bit over 160GB)

Do you have to work in steps, e.g. register the scan in FARO software, export it for UNDET, import in Undet, model in SketchUp with Undet? For example, if during modelling in SU you noticed that extra scan should be added/registered, or if you decide to extra point cloud classification or segmentation in FARO software - do you need to repeat export/import for Undet? (basically, trying to understand steps of the workflow)

To be honest, point clouds support in Trimble Connect is one of the most confusing things for me. It supports Potree point cloud format, but not Trimble’s own TZF/RWP formats :frowning: (I can see it now says that TZF is supported in desktop version of TC, but I don’t want individual scans - I want the whole registered project)

The scan we purchased is sitting at around 1.75 GB.

I think that is where I am needing some education…the point cloud itself is not a mesh correct? Does a person have to create the mesh to work with from the point cloud? How does that process work? I have loaded the scan into Blender and it is very accurate, but I don’t fully understand how that data becomes useful to Sketchup.

Are you in the business of working with people who have scans that need to be converted for Sketchup?

If you have a point cloud you either automatically create a mesh from it using software for that purpose or you go about using the point cloud to model your object.

The first method is good for very complex and organic shapes. The second is good for CAD models with accurate geometry.

The first is automatic and you define the level of detail you want, the second is mostly manual using software that allows you to model based on the point cloud.

What Undet and Trimble scan Essentials allow you is to import the point cloud into SketchUp and model inside it.

I decide how many scans I require when I am on site. I often only need to capture a single building elevation which sometimes requires just 1 scan - but because the scanner can only scan what it can see I often have to move it around to capture everything I need resulting in multiple scans (the most I’ve ever done on a single building is 14 which says a lot about the scanners battery capacity)

I use the software that came with the scanner called ‘Scene’ to process and register the scans resulting in a single Point Cloud. The Point Cloud produced within Scene initially includes everything the scanner sees including adjacent buildings, distant trees and the family pet and a lot of that information is unnecessary, so I remove everything I don’t need using 1 or more clipping boxes within Scene before I export the Point Cloud.

I import a single Point Cloud (which is often made up of multiple scans) into SketchUp using the Undet extension. I believe Undet can import multiple Point Clouds into a single SketchUp file although I have never required that feature.

And when I say “import the Point Cloud” - I would add that although the Point Cloud appears within SketchUp and can be moved, rotated, clipped and meshed using the Undet controls, it doesn’t actually increase the SketchUp file size very much so I would say it is linked to SketchUp rather than imported.

As far as my workflow is concerned, my first task after importing/linking the Point Cloud is to align the Point Cloud axis to SketchUp using the Undet move, rotate coordinates controls and then start modelling.

I sometimes use the Point Cloud as the starting point to produce visuals for clients, but its main benefit for me within SketchUp, is to allow the creation of accurate detail drawings in Layout based on sections taken through various surface meshes produced from the Undet surface extraction tools.

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No - the Point Cloud is not a mesh.

I work from the Point Cloud in 2 ways.

Firstly I create a fairly accurate model of a scanned building in SketchUp from the Point Cloud by effectively tracing over it which I use to create a visual. There are various extensive tutorials showing how to do this on youTube which Undet have created - I would add that I have no connection with Undet other than I pay them a monthly subscription for their excellent product.

The other way I work (usually after the visual results in a contract) is by modeling the building very accurately with meshes of the various surfaces I willl be fixing my glass to. By creating these meshes I can take sections through them which allows me to detail glass panels extremely accurately.

I will add a couple of example visuals below which were created using Vray for Sketchup from Point Clouds imported with Undet which demonstrate why the meshes are required for accuracy.

I would be happy to help you with your Point Clouds FOC but ultimately you could use the Undet extension yourself which is available on a monthly subscription.

What format are your Point Couds in? I usually export to either the .pts or .e57 format from the Scene software that came with the Faro Scanner although Undet will work with many more formats.

![Top View - option 1|690x388]

The issue with this are pointcloud engines. Trimble, Autodesk, Faro, Leica pointcloud engines just run on Windows, and so, consequently, modelers plugins (like scan essential) run on Windows only too.
As far as I know, the only (and very powerful) multi platform pointcloud engine is Euclideon, that is used by all the mentioned above companies to develop and maintain their own pointcloud engines and plugins, but it’s up to them to port their engine multiplatform. I’m sure this can be done.
CloudCompare works on macOS, but, again, no modelers plugin.

At the end running Windows via Bootcamp is the best option, though I’m still waiting for a proper AMD Bootcamp graphic driver for it.

the point cloud format is .stl. A bit odd to me now that I have read a bunch on this…don’t often see .stl files mentioned in point cloud conversations.

the big software battle for me is that I’m a Mac user so I don’t have access to Undet. Others have mentioned Bootcamp, but it’s not setup yet for me and I’m buried in work and don’t have the time right now to upscale my system.

The more I look at it, the more I know I need a professional to process the file and give me an end product that I can model within. One person has sent a DM about this, so I am making that known now, if your interested in working on this with me, send a DM and we can discuss it. Obviously there are a few of you here who have the skills to handle it. The model is not a typical building structure but a larger vehicle and will require some extra work I’m thinking.

Really appreciate all the comments from everyone. All have helped to educate me in how to move forward.