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Laser Scanning 101

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 & Whitepapers



Why Choose 3D Laser Scanning

How Does 3D Laser Scanning Work?

What are the Benefits of 3D Laser Scanning?

3D Laser Scans


When a 3D laser scanner is used to scan a crash or crime scene, the entire scene is recorded in the form of millions of (X,Y,Z) data points. Anything the laser can “see” is accurately captured as a data point, which, when combined with all the captured points, make up a point cloud of the scene. Point clouds from multiple scans can be precisely combined, or registered, to create a complete 3D model of the scene, exactly as it appeared at the time of the scans. Software is used to view the point cloud, move through it, take measurements, create diagrams, and animations from the point data. Unlike the actual scene, the point cloud captured by a laser scanner never changes so you can examine the scene weeks, or years later with complete confidence that all the evidence was captured. Data captured by laser scanners is now commonly accepted in court and software like FARO WebShare make it possible to easily provide point cloud data to attorneys and juries.

Scanning Benefits

Compared to traditional evidence collection methods, which can include tape measures and total stations, 3D Laser Scanning delivers a number of benefits to the Public Safety market including:

  • Improved Data Accuracy and More Data Points
  • Improved Speed and Efficiency
  • Improved Safety
  • Improved Credibility of Data
  • Ability to Deliver Field-to-Finish Results
  • Thorough Digital Preservation of Crime/Crash Evidence
  • Complete Archival of Crime/Crash Documentation
  • Gather Evidence to Help Identify Fire Origin and Cause
  • Reporting Flexibility
  • Gather Evidence for providing Court Room-Ready Presentations
  • Evidence Analysis
  • Gather Evidence for Crush Analysis
  • Facilitates Cold Case Investigation


Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to Commonly Asked Questions.

  • What does the 3D laser scanner do?

    FARO’s 3D Scanners quickly and accurately collect millions of measurable data points for a crime or accident scene. The scanner can collect 360 degrees of data at up to 1,148 feet in every direction. The result is a virtual 3D color model of the scene, which can be stored as a permanent digital record. By capturing nearly all of the points in the scene, every measurement can be taken and then processed from the comfort of your office. The data can be transformed into a credible 2D or 3D model of the scene exactly as it was at the time of capture.

  • How much time will the laser scanner save me?

    Our customers are able to reduce their time on the scene by at least 50% and use at least 50% fewer people versus using conventional evidence collection tools such as measuring wheels, total stations, and photogrammetry. Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office reported saving $73K in overtime costs alone in 32 months of operation.  *Source: Clackamas County case Study

  • Does the FARO laser scanner have to be leveled like a total station?

    No, there is no need to “chasing the bubble” like with total stations.  Our scanners “Auto Level” in seconds. Compare to 15-20 min on average setup time every a total station is moved.

  • What software programs work on the laser scanners?

    To get the most out of your laser scanner, you will want software which can register your scans and let you create your report and court deliverables.

    Use SCENE for registering your point clouds which are captured by the laser scanner. SCENE stitches together the scans into one complete scene.

    Use FARO Zone 2D for 2D Diagrams for crash reports, crime and fire Investigations, and pre-incident planning.

    Use FARO Zone 3D for 2D and 3D forensic diagramming, analysis and animations.

  • What are the prices for the scanners and software?

    Prices will vary based on your specific requirements, scanner model, accessories and software. Click here to request a quote, or call us today for a customized, no obligation quote (800.736.0234).

  • Does FARO offer grant assistance?

    Yes. Through a sponsorship program with PoliceGrantsHelp, agencies applying for grants are able to take advantage of a FARO-sponsored 50% discount on grant writing services.

  • Does FARO offer a lease or rental program for the laser scanner?

    Yes, please contact a sales specialist at 800.736.0234 for more information.

  • Do I have to use FARO software with the 3D laser scanners?

    FARO SCENE is the recommended software product for registering multiple scans. FARO SCENE also allows you to save the scanner data to a standard .PTS file, so you can use any software that is compatible with that format. FARO Zone 2D and FARO Zone 3D are used by investigators to create diagrams and animations from their scan data.

  • Are the FARO products available to purchase through GSA?

    Yes. Our contract number is GS24F0044M and the catalog can be accessed through https://www.GSAadvantage.gov

  • What other law enforcement or state crime labs are using FARO software and hardware?

    There are many local, state, and federal organizations using FARO scanners including, Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, Nashville PD, Waukesha PD, Niagara County Sheriff’s Office, Michigan State Police and many more. Visit our “Case Studies & Whitepapers” or “In the News” to read about some of them.

  • Are there any case studies or webinars I can download?

    Yes. We publish case studies and white papers regularly on this website under “Resources.” If you don’t see something you’re looking for, or need more than what is available here, visit our “Download Center” by clicking here.

  • Can I trade in a total station or what I am using now toward the purchase of a new FARO laser scanner?

    Yes. Please contact our sales specialist at 800.736.0234, or click here to request a quote.

  • Can I see a FARO Laser Scanner in action?

    Yes you can. We would be happy to visit your organization. Call us at 800.736.0234 to schedule an on-site demonstration.

FireZone Overview Step-by-Step Tutorial
FARO Global Customer Service

FARO Handheld 3D Scanner Freestyle3D -
Forensic Investigation

FARO Handheld 3D Scanner Freestyle3D -
Accident Reconstruction

Documenting an Accident Scene

Courtesy of Simi Valley Police Department

Actual 3D Scan of an Accident Scene

Courtesy of Georgia Public Safety Training Center


3D Laser Scanner Fly Through

Courtesy of Larimer County Sheriff's Office and Brian Wangler

Fly Through of a Home-Fire Scan

Courtesy of Atlantic Laser Scanning and Nick Worrell


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