Accurate inspections and scanning are critical to maintaining the integrity of aging pipelines. One of the most effective and efficient inspection methods available today is 3D Laser Scanning. 3D scanning is highly accurate, fast, easily repeatable, portable, and delivers excellent data quality across a wide range of applications.
This specialty inspection tool uses triangulation to create completely accurate and scalable 3D scans. The 3D images allow inspectors to easily visualize surface defects and take precise measurements. Once collected, the data can be used to improve 2D drawings, 3D models, and animations in addition to analyzing the integrity of pipelines and surfaces.
How 3D Laser Scans Work
3D laser scans gather data about specific positions on the surface of an object. Using small sticker targets that have been placed on the object being scanned, a handheld scanner records their position. This then becomes the 3D reference system. Using the reference system, the scanning equipment can record all real surface points in 3D, relative to the targets.
The resulting data can be analyzed to look for changes in surface characteristics that could indicate corrosion or other surface defects.
The technique is commonly used to:
- Detect and map corrosion at the visible surface.
- Validate and calibrate data in pipelines.
- Record profile and depth of grinded areas.
- Record and measure bulges, dents, and other defects.
- Examine parts in 3D for conformity before assembly.
- Reverse engineering analysis.
Advantages Of 3D Laser Scanning
3D laser scans overcome some of the challenges faced using more traditional NDT inspection methods. The primary advantages of 3D laser scanning are:
- Incredibly accurate measurement capabilities.
- Easily reproduced data.
- Detailed imaging of surface profiles.
- Data exportation to CAD files.
- Real-time reporting capabilities.
- Comparatively fast scanning.
- Compatible for use on complex shapes.
- Scans can be conducted from a remote distance.
Techniques That Can Be Replaced With 3D Laser Scans
- Manual Pit Measurement. 3D scans are especially useful in measuring pit gauge and corrosion of inaccessible areas. Manual measurement of these areas is highly labor-intensive and technician-dependent, which means the outcomes can be variable. This results in unreliable data that took a long time to collect. It’s easy to see how inspection expenses can add up in cases like this.
- Ultrasound Technology Methods. Most ultrasound methods require constant water coupling in order to get a reading. This is difficult to maintain on awkward shapes, corroded areas, and rough surfaces. The results are incomplete or inaccurate measurements. UT methods are usually confined to small sections, which means it will take much longer and many more measurements to fully inspect the object in question.
- Conventional Lasers. Conventional lasers don’t require water like UT methods do and can cover much larger areas with ease. However, they are not very portable and are difficult to use on-site or on anything that is not a flat surface. Vibrations from the laser itself can throw off measurements.
3D Laser Scanning Services At Amerapex
Amerapex uses 3D laser scanning as a non-destructive testing and inspection tool in the oil and gas industry. We have found the method to provide highly accurate corrosion measurements on rounded, flat, and oddly shaped surfaces without the struggles and limitations of other inspection techniques.
To learn more about our customized 3D laser scanning services, contact us at 1-713-263-0900.