How to import a laz file to Civil 3D

Currently, there is no way to import laz files directly into AutoDesk Civil 3D. Instead, laz files must be converted into a format that Civil 3D can read, such as RCP/RCS (from AutoDesk Recap), DWG, GeoTIFF, or SHP. This article explains how to convert laz data into Civil 3D supported formats, using industry-standard software.

laz to civil 3d

Method 1: LAZ to RCS to Civil 3D

This video shows how to create a Civil 3D surface from a LiDAR point cloud.

The great thing about this approach is that the point cloud can be imported directly rather than as a derivative data type (contours, DEM). The downside is that if you use a lower-end computer or your LiDAR point cloud is quite large, it will take a long time (or crash). If you are running into issues, check out method 2.

The video tutorial includes the following steps on how to import a LAZ file to Civil 3D:

  1. Download LiDAR using Equator
  2. Convert LAZ to RCP/RCS using AutoDesk Recap
  3. Import RCP/RCS file into Civil 3D

Method 2: LAZ to DEM (geoTIFF) to Civil 3D

If you don’t have Recap, or if your Civil 3D is crashing because of massive point clouds, or if you want to save time then method 2 is for you.

Method 2 involves simplifying the point cloud by converting it into a model with a desired resolution, e.g. a Digital Elevation Model (DEM). DEMs are often a raster data type stored in geoTIFF format (which Civil 3D can easily work with).

The nice thing about working with DEMs is that the resultant Civil 3D surface will typically produce beautifully smooth contours, which are preferred for many applications (such a presentation material). Check out this article to learn more about LiDAR/DEM/Contours and how to create smooth contours in Civil 3D.

Once you have a DEM, you can create other derivative data layers, such as contours. Contours are a vector data type and are often stored in SHP or DWG formats. This video shows how to generate contours from LiDAR using Equator, and then how to create a surface in Civil 3D.

The video tutorial includes the following steps on how to import a LAZ file to Civil 3D, by converting it into SHP format first:

  1. Convert LAZ to contours using Equator
  2. Import contours to Civil 3D
  3. Create a surface from contours in Civil 3D