FROM TLS TO FE ANALYSIS: POINTS CLOUD EXPLOITATION FOR STRUCTURAL BEHAVIOUR DEFINITION. THE SAN CIRIACO’S BELL TOWER
In the last few years, the evolution of acquisition techniques allowed to acquire reality-based models increasing accurate and rich of information. On the contrary, the ability to exploit the acquired data in the most efficient, economic (in terms of invested time), and impartial way (in terms of arbitrary choices of the operator) represents the most significant gap. Interoperability theme between points cloud and informative systems becomes relevant. Excellent results were achieved in 3D data exploitation in HBIM and GIS environments, as well as in VR and AR applications, whereas the structural analysis with the Finite Element Method (FEM) still lacks robust workflows based on point clouds. The present paper proposes a methodology allowing to transform the TLS point cloud obtained from the survey directly into a 3D FEM, in a semi-automatic way and, therefore, proposes a hybrid reverse engineering approach that aims to: (i) maximizing the correspondence between the model for structural analysis and the real object; (ii) minimizing the time and the operator’s decision. The strategy is validated on the belfry of the Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica of Saint Cyriacus in Ancona, Central Italy. The reliability of the proposed model is assessed through a comparison between the model obtained from the Boolean modelling within a FEM software and the model obtained directly from points cloud processing. The comparison between the two numerical models highlights the enormous potential of the exposed method. The proposed case study shows how it is possible to develop high-quality 3D models, able to connect geometrical-historical survey with thematic analysis about structural behavior.