Beginning this week, we’re digging into a new tool (to us) from Leica Geosystems called 3D Disto. With some basic orientation, you are able to shoot points much the same way you would use a total station, only you’re not looking through a scope but using the screen on a tablet. Thanks to the built-in camera, the 3D Disto will “show” you what it’s shooting remotely. This offers the luxury of single user operation without prisms or even a tripod.

The 3D Disto also lets you choose an area to scan using a grid spacing you specify (every 4”, for example) – functioning like a low-density laser scanner. This is particularly interesting for existing spaces where you want to understand a room quickly without having to pull tape for every dimension (although a little backchecking is always good for peace of mind).

I think the best part is what you get out of it. The 3D Disto exports out DXF files, which is instantly usable in a host of programs including Autodesk Revit, AutoCAD, or Navisworks. Combining these point files with a federated model could bring us much closer to connecting true as-built information to BIM.

We’ll be putting the 3D Disto to the test on several projects over the next month. Look out for future posts on exactly what it can do for us as a contractor.

Zack Creach is a senior engineer for Holder Construction in Atlanta.