What are the most common 3D point cloud file format and how to solve interoperability issues

3D modeling is a complex and ever-evolving field, and with hundreds of available file formats, it can be challenging to manage interoperability between different software systems. Point cloud data is a critical component of 3D modeling, and it's essential to ensure that the data is stored in a format that can be easily processed and used by a wide range of software systems. In this article, we will discuss the common 3D point cloud file formats, their key differences, and how to solve interoperability issues.

Point cloud data is collected using laser scans and other surveying techniques, and the resulting raw data can be stored in different file formats. Some of the most significant players in the industry, such as Faro, Leica, and Trimble, produce both hardware and software for point cloud data processing. Autodesk, on the other hand, is a significant software developer but does not produce hardware. This heterogeneity of hardware and software in the market makes it challenging to ensure that data from one system can be easily used by another.

The main difference between point cloud file formats is the use of ASCII and binary. ASCII uses text to convey information and is considered a universal format that can be easily opened in text editors. Some of the most common ASCII file formats for point cloud data include XYZ, OBJ, PTX (Leica), and ASC. Binary systems, on the other hand, store data directly in binary code, making the files more compact and faster to process. Some of the most common binary file formats include FLS (Faro), PCD (Point Cloud Library), and LAS.

Another key difference between point cloud file formats is the amount of information they can store. ASCII files, while accessible, are larger in size and contain less metadata compared to binary files. Binary files can store more information, including file signatures, software information, and metadata, making them a better choice for day-to-day use. Binary files can also be spatially indexed, which allows them to be read in parts, making them faster to process and visualize.

In order to overcome the interoperability issues that arise from the wide range of file formats available, it's essential to use common file formats that have wide interoperable utility. This will ensure that point cloud data can be processed using a wide range of software systems without having to resort to third-party file converters. Some of the most common file formats that have wide interoperable utility include PLY, FBX, and E57. These formats store data in both ASCII and binary, offering the benefits of both formats in a single file type.

In conclusion, the plethora of point cloud file formats available in the market makes it challenging to ensure that data collected from one system can be easily used by another. By using common file formats that have wide interoperable utility, such as PLY, FBX, and E57, users can overcome these interoperability issues and ensure that their point cloud data can be processed and used by a wide range of software systems. With a little bit of planning, these issues can be overcome, and users can ensure that their point cloud data is stored in a format that is easily accessible and usable for their needs.