The Business of Laser Scanning: 3d vs. Biscuits & Gravy

by Ken Smerz, as seen on, published Thursday, April 30th 2015

Dear 3d Nation:

We are feverishly racing to be the coolest cat in the room. Software guys, hardware manufacturers, and potentially worst of all, the service providers, are stepping over each other to implement the next greatest technology [have you seen the FARO Freestyle?!!]. We're like junkies in search of the next, better fix.

Throughout America we're obsessed with "3d" in almost every facet of our lives. Tell anyone you meet that you in a "3d industry" and their response will almost certainly include the word "cool" Then they want to share a story of their own about the future of 3d, as if to be a part of the technology evolution themselves. And it doesn't matter how young or old they are--their excitement is sincere. Name any other industry where you'd illicit that same reaction.

Who doesn't want to be the coolest guy in the room? And shame on us, we usually exaggerate our own stories just enough to leave the person in our casual encounter with a hint of jealousy - man if he could only be me!

So, here's the pie in your face, the rake you're going to step on. I have bad news--2d is still King! Yep, sorry 3d Nation, but 2d is still the language everyone understands. It's safe. It's multigenerational. It's the de facto standard that has been implemented internationally and is a universally understood form of communication about projects in the Built Environment. It's affordable, and it doesn't require me to have to train my brain on Revit, Rhino, or Maya. 2d is still America's comfort food!

Now if you're working in the manufacturing sector or the entertainment industry then I might have to change my tune, but the architects, engineers, contractors and most importantly, owners are much more comfortable in the 2d world. Its how most people were trained and educated. Unfortunately most universities do not have the financial resources to make 3d the standard, yet the cost of a 4 year degree continues to increase at a rate substantially above inflation, but that's a topic for another time.

I know you can argue that the world is 3d, that you can do so much more with 3d models, like automated interference checking, calculating volumes and making inspiring visual presentations. You might also add that this is what the so-called younger generation has grown up with and expects to see. That is true, but for the majority of Built Environment workflow 2d is still the norm.

Why am I making this point? The business opportunities, that we all want more of, will be significantly greater if we offer the complete spectrum of 2d and 3d services. It will also be easier to scale your business if you're working with what clients already understand. In doing so, you are communicating in a language your customer already understands. You don't have to spend all that time educating people on the benefits of 3d when 2d can be just as effective for certain workflows.

But wait....we all know comfort food can be fattening and lead to serious long term health issues. So, my proposition to the 3d visionaries out there, don't leave behind your friends who are enjoying their biscuits and gravy. Instead work to get them to eat healthy. The implementation of 3d technology is undeniably the future of our world, but serving up some comfort food should be on your menu. And the best part is that it's easy, and likely more profitable.

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