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  • Alyssa Roberson

The Advantages of 3D BIM over 2D CAD



What is 2D CAD?

Two-dimensional Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software replaces manual drafting. 2D CAD software allows users to draft designs by representing them as a combination of numerous lines, polylines, and/or geometric shapes. This can be tedious and is difficult to maintain if design changes occur throughout the lifecycle of the project.


What is 3D BIM?

Three-dimensional Building Information Modeling (BIM) provides many advantages over 2D CAD due to the vast capabilities of parametric modeling. All components modeled in 3D BIM software contain real world information about that component. For instance, if you were to place a wall within a BIM model, that wall would automatically include information about it such as its length, width, volume, weight, etc. with little to no additional input from the user. Because of this, once the 3D model is complete the information can quickly and easily be translated into schedules, drawings, and much more.


Pulling Data from the 3D Model

Models created using 3D BIM software are intelligent, meaning each element placed in the model contains information about the element that can later be reused for other purposes in the project. For example, schedules will be automatically populated as elements are placed in the model. There is no need to manually update schedules since they are a live representation of what exists in the model at that time. Also, once the 3D model is complete, it is a simple task to convert this information into accurate erection drawings, shop tickets, and bills of materials. Another added advantage is that this information can easily be extracted for use in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems for production scheduling and inventory relief.


Time Savings

3D BIM offers considerable time savings over 2D CAD. In contrast to 2D CAD, change management is largely an automated task with 3D BIM. Because drawings are linked to the 3D model, all dimensional and geometric changes made in the model are automatically corrected on all relevant erection drawings and shop tickets. Also, since all schedules are derived directly from the 3D model, any changes to materials in the 3D model will automatically get populated to the corresponding schedules. This lends to a huge improvement in productivity since users are no longer tasked with the tedious job of manually updating schedules and linework on a multitude of drawings as would be necessary if using 2D CAD software.


Error Reduction

Using 3D BIM software can greatly cut down on potential errors. Naturally it's easier to identify interference between elements and spacial problems in 3D than 2D since you can effortlessly visualize the whole picture which can cut down on costly errors. An additional advantage of 3D BIM is that since all drawings and schedules are updated in real time based on the 3D model, this eliminates the possibility of a drawing or schedule being overlooked and not getting updated with the corrected information which is a real drawback with 2D CAD. With 3D BIM, it's easier to catch and correct errors during the modeling phase rather than making the costly mistake of not discovering them until the production or erection phase.


Collaboration Between Teams

3D BIM makes collaboration among different teams easier than ever before. Using the same model and resources architects, engineers, and contractors can now effortlessly work together to design and construct a project.

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