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A point cloud is a set of vertices in a three-dimensional coordinate system usually defined by X, Y, and Z coordinates. The vertices are typically intended to represent the external surface of an object.
Point clouds are created by 3D scanning devices that measure a large number of points on the surface of an object. The output of the scan is a point cloud that is saved as a data file. The point cloud represents the set of points that the device has measured.
Before a point cloud can be attached to a part or assembly, it must first be indexed. Inventor can index 3D point clouds from the following point cloud data file types:
Index a file of one of these types to create a .pcg file which can then be attached in Inventor.
Users of the Autodesk Factory Design Suite
can snap factory assets directly to points in the point cloud.
Index creates an indexed point cloud (.pcg) file from a scan file. Scan files must be indexed before they can be attached to Inventor. The following scan file formats are supported:
Indexing a scan file
To index a scan file, do the following:
- On the ribbon, click . The Select Data File to Index dialog box displays.
- Navigate to the folder than contains the scan file you wish to index. Select the file and click the Index button to close the dialog box.
Tip If you wish to index more than one file simultaneously, use Ctrl-Shift to select multiple files from the Select Data File to Index dialog box.
- The Index dialog box appears and displays the source file name you selected and the name of the file when indexing is complete. A progress bar displays the progress of the indexing process.
- The status of the file is reported in the Status column. The file can have four states - Waiting, Indexing, Completed, or Error.
Tip When the indexing of a file is completed, the word Attach appears in the Action column. This indicates that the point cloud can now be inserted into the current part or assembly. You can click Attach as a handy alternative to using the Attach command on the Point Cloud panel.
- If you wish to index another scan file, click the New button and select the file from the Select Data File to Index dialog box.
- Click the Pause button if you wish to momentarily stop the indexing operation. If you are indexing more than one scan file, click Pause All at the bottom of the dialog box.
- When you wish to restart a paused indexing operation, click the Resume button . If you have more than one indexing process paused, click the Resume All button at the bottom of the dialog box.
- To remove a file from the list, select the file name and click the Delete button .
- Click the Close button when the indexing operation is complete.
The indexed file is created with a .pcg file extension and is ready to be attached to Inventor.
Note A dialog box is displayed if you attempt to close a file when indexing is in process. The dialog box prompts you to cancel the indexing operation or continue without closing.
Before a point cloud can be used by Inventor, the scan file from which it was derived must first be indexed. This is accomplished using the Index command. After indexing the file, use the Attach command to place, orient, or scale the point cloud in the Inventor graphics window. Point cloud density can also be decreased.
Attaching a point cloud
Editing an attached point cloud
Do the following if you wish to edit an attached point cloud.
- Locate the point cloud node in the browser that you wish to edit.
- Right-click over the node and select Edit Attached Data from the pop-up context menu.
- The Attach Point Cloud dialog box appears showing the current values for the selected point cloud.
- Make any required changes and click OK to close the dialog box and end the command.
The Box Crop command crops (removes) a portion of the point cloud. The default Keep Inside option retains the portion you crop inside a rectangular 3D bounding box and discards the remainder of the point cloud outside the box. The Keep Outside option removes the portion you crop and retains the remainder of the point cloud outside the box.
Perform a Box Crop
To perform a Box Crop operation, do the following:
- On the ribbon, click .
- A window selection set glyph appears in the graphics window. Pick two diagonal corners that fully enclose the objects you want to include in the cropped portion.
- After picking the second diagonal corner, a rectangular 3D bounding box displays around the area you selected. The X and Y bounding box dimensions are determined by the X and Y values defined by the diagonal corners of the selection window. The Z value is adjustable.
Note A box crop selection set can include more than one point cloud. If there are multiple point clouds in the graphics window and one is inadvertently included in the crop selection, use Ctrl + Select to deselect it.
- You can use the distance manipulators on the bounding box to dynamically increase or decrease the dimensions of the bounding box, if required.
- Also appearing in the in-canvas display is the Point Cloud mini-toolbar. As an alternative to the distance manipulator, you can enter the desired Z value directly in the value input box on the mini-toolbar.
- Next, determine whether you want to use the Keep Inside or Keep Outside crop option. Both options are available from the Point Cloud options drop-down menu.
- The default Keep Inside option retains the portion you crop inside the bounding box and discards the remainder of the point cloud outside the box.
- The Keep Outside option removes the portion you crop and retains the remainder of the point cloud outside the bounding box.
Note Regardless of which Keep option is selected, retained points in the cloud always appear in gray (the original color of the point cloud). Points to be discarded appear in a different color. That color is determined by the current Inventor color scheme in use.
- Click the OK button on the mini-toolbar to perform the crop and end the command.
The Uncrop command restores the cropped portion(s) of a point cloud by reversing one or more performed box crop operations.
Note The Uncrop command is inaccessible and appears grayed-out on the Point Cloud panel until at least one box crop operation has been performed.
Perform an Uncrop
To perform an Uncrop operation, do the following:
- First, make sure that the Uncrop icon on the Point Cloud panel is not grayed-out (inactive). The active icon indicates that a point cloud box crop has been performed and may be reversed.
- On the ribbon, click .
- Any cropped portions of the point cloud are restored.
TipThe Uncrop command restores all cropped portions of a point cloud. Use the Undo command instead if you wish to reverse the last crop only.
The Cloud Point command creates a work point coincident with a selected point in a point cloud. You can use work points to facilitate the construction of a work axis or work plane through the point cloud.
Attach a cloud point
Creates an indexed point cloud file (.pcg) from a scan file.
Index dialog box options
| || Click the New button to display the Select Data File to Index dialog box when you wish to select another scan file for indexing. |
| || Click the Pause button to pause the indexing of the current data file. |
| || The Resume button resumes the indexing of the current data file. |
| || The Delete button deletes the source scan file and indexed file from the Index dialog box. |
|Pause All|| Pauses the indexing of multiple data files. |
|Resume All|| Resumes the indexing of multiple data files. |
Inserts, orients, adjusts point density, and scales an indexed point cloud file (.pcg).
Select Point Cloud File dialog box options
|Attach to Origin|| Optionally enter X, Y, or Z translation values to offset the point cloud origin relative to the base 0, 0, 0 origin. |
|Rotate along Axis|| Optionally enter Y, Y, or Z rotation values to rotate along one or more of three axes. |
|Adjust density manually|| Activate this check box to manually set the point cloud density. |
|Density|| Decreases the percentage of point density. The default value is 100%. |
|Attached points|| Displays the number of attached points. This value decreases as point density decreases. |
|Total points|| Is the number of total points in the original point cloud. |
|Scale|| Enter a numeric value to increase or decrease the scale of the point cloud. |
Crops (removes) a portion of the point cloud.
Box Crop mini-toolbar options
|Keep Inside|| The default Keep Inside option retains the portion you crop inside the bounding box and discards the remainder of the point cloud outside the box. |
|Keep Outside|| The Keep Outside option removes the portion you crop and retains the remainder of the point cloud outside the bounding box. |
Restores the cropped portion(s) of a point cloud by reversing all box crop operations.
Creates a cloud (work) point coincident with a selected point in a point cloud.