Scan File Types For EdgeWise

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Getting Started

This article will cover the different scan file types that EdgeWise can utilize. Keep in mind, certain scan file types are limited to specific automated processes in EdgeWise. This article defines the different scan file types that EdgeWise can take, as well as the makeup of those file types.

Important Terminology

Structured Data or non-unified data records individual scan locations, or where the scanner was in 3D space, to the file.

Unstructured data or Unified data, combines all the scans into one individual scan file.

As a general rule, when working with these file formats it is possible to turn Structured data into Unstructured data, but not the other way around.


EdgeWise primarily uses structured data.  The automated pipe extraction can only run on a structured data format, while automated wall extraction supports unstructured data.  Point Cloud databases can still be created using any data format. Data format types have no effect on the semi-automated tools.

Structured Data Types

Proprietary File Formats

The following are file types that are proprietary and can only be read by certain applications.  These are usually the best choice when working with EdgeWise because they do not regularly change and are structured data formats:

  • Trimble: .tzf
  • FARO: .fls
  • Leica: .PTG
  • Z+F: .zfs and .zfprj
  • DotProduct: .DP
  • Gexcel: .rgp
  • AutoDesk: Non Unified Recap project (.RCP)

Generic File Formats

Files that almost every point cloud viewing software can export or import.  The main issue with these formats is that different programs tend to slightly tweak the exported file which can cause issues with the file reader.


  • ASCII file which takes more space to represent same amount of information
  • Can contain multiple coordinate systems, usually a local coordinate system and a global coordinate
  • Always will be structured
  • Can have multiple PTX files per scan location, or one large one for the whole project


  • Can be structured or not structured – usually the structured versions are significantly larger file size than the unstructured ones
  • Can either have one e57 file for the whole project that contains data for multiple scan locations or have each scan location recorded as one e57 file

Unstructured Data Types

The below file formats are all unstructured, meaning no information about where the scanner is in the scan is recorded.  Pretty much every point cloud software can import / export the below file types.


  • Unstructured
  • Exported by multiple programs
  • ASCII file which takes more space to represent same amount of information.


  • Unstructured variant of e57
  • significantly smaller the structured variant.
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Next When Should I Adjust Scanner Range Or Point Spacing In Process Scans?
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