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3D BIM and CAD: Differences You Need to Know

Written by BIM Outsourcing
October 18, 2022

3D BIM and CAD its an interesting topic. However CAD drawings and BIM go hand in hand with construction; you might be surprised to learn that they're not the same. Let's examine their differences and why choosing the right one is essential when designing your construction project.

What is 2D Computer Aided Design?

In the late 1960s, Computer-Aided Design replaced hand sketching as a design method. With 2D CAD software, professionals can construct designs by drawing countless lines, curves, fills, and hatching. All this is done on a computer to present constructional objects like plant rooms or floor plans. These two-dimensional drafts communicate the idea and document architecture. Furthermore, it designs engineering projects or sketches out details for an engineering plan.

What is Building Information Modelling?

Building Information Modeling is a powerful way of producing detailed information about buildings. Generally, it contains a combination of 3D components called families with a logical connection. It involves the generation and management of digital data of the physical structure and its parts.

CAD is a drafting technique, while BIM refers to designing. It contains a 3D intelligent component having various characteristics and logical connections. BIM is not limited to 3D modeling. It provides the cost estimation of the project and material takeoffs in the form of schedules. Along with timelines for construction, green energy analysis, and building sustainability studies.

CAD usually provides the annotation and limited physical parameters of building components in 2D. At the same time, BIM contains the 3D Model of each element. Along with all tangible and intangible properties.

A good example might be a wall drawn in CAD software showing its length and width. Contrarily, BIM provides the detail of each layer of the wall, material. Along with all physical dimensions, and structural properties alongside realistic visualization.

This innovative approach offers many benefits over previously used CAD drafting. Some of these are discussed below in the article.

Information with 3D Model

One of the most significant benefits of BIM over CAD is its ability to visualize in three dimensions. That also provides the length, width, & height for each component in the building process. This process enables you to see slopes, and actual colors of the material used. As well as the original shapes better than CAD software like AutoCAD.

Due to geometrical constraints, CAD requires separate drafting of each elevation or section view. Which is not identical in the case of BIM.

For example, four independent drafting needs to be carried out for each elevation. It requires that all elements must be drawn and fixed together as per the observation of the drafter. Using many geometric shapes like lines, rectangles, circles, etc.

If the client demands an extra section, the number of drafting views increases, raising the project's timeline. Contrarily, all the components in BIM (called families) are three-dimensional. Their views are automatically created, and you can observe them as per the design phase.

When rendering is done on 3D models, architects can create more appealing visuals. Which is, tailored towards marketing purposes- painting them how they want them seen.

Time Saving 3D BIM and CAD

Building Information Modelling workflow provides considerable time savings in initial design and modifications. As a beauty of 3D, BIM doesn't require a segmented drawing for each view. As a component added or designed in one view is automatically updated in the related views.

In the same way, change management is almost an automated task in BIM workflow. These drawings are linked to a 3D model, and changes in the Model are auto-updated in relevant sheets and views. No matter whether the changes are geometric or non-geometric. Changes to materials reflect everywhere because they're tied to the Model alongside other information.

Materials takeoff of the design is also linked to the 3D Model, and respective changes are implemented on corresponding views simultaneously. All these aspects result in significant improvements in productivity among professionals. Because there is no need for tedious tasks like updating schedules after every change and manual updates on drawings. Something which has taken up hours of the professionals out of their day until now.

To top of it, you can print out the 2D drawings with the specification schedule of each component from a BIM model with a few clicks.

Data Extraction from 3D Model

CAD is a drafting technique that does not convey extra information unless manually entered. Or you have to use external software to perform sustainability and energy calculations. These calculations include; structural analysis, heating & cooling loads, green energy, and solar analysis. Contrarily, every 3D space occupying an area in the BIM model may be used for research & analysis. It takes location's spaces and climate aspect as a reference. And provides the required heating and cooling or other simulations.

As discussed, models created using BIM tools are intelligent enough to carry information about the element. Which can be further used to get the material takeoff, schedules, and cost. The Schedule of the quantities is automatically populated as soon as the elements are placed in the Model.

Structural components are placed as per the calculated weight-bearing capacities. BIM enables additional geographical climate conditions to perform solar and green building analysis. Another advantage is that the information extracted can be used for Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). Which is further utilized to produce inventory relief.

Error Reduction in BIM Process

The benefits of using BIM processes to design buildings are extensive. For example, there are fewer opportunities for errors due to better coordination. It results in cost and time savings with less tedious work. Specially if conflicts arise during on-site construction. This is because it only takes a few clicks to identify clashes between the elements of design and infrastructure.

As all the schedules and drawings are updated on a real-time basis on a 3D model. This eliminates the possibility of drawings or schedules being overlooked. Or not getting updated with the correct information, which is the main drawback of CAD. There is less chance for essential tasks and schedules to slip through the cracks using BIM.

Collaboration between the Teams

Another significant advantage of BIM over CAD is the freedom to assign a task to teams. Each team member can perform their job concurrently. There's another up hand of the BIM; it provides collaboration between the team members. In CAD workflow, if one team completes the assigned task. Then the second one takes charge and performs the required drafting on the same file. While in the case of BIM, a single central file is managed by a senior resource who handles all of the information. Additionally, he assigns tasks and gives access to the relevant team members. Architects, engineers, and contractors can now work at the same time to design and construct a building.

As a final word, CAD has been used in the AEC industry since the 1960s as a design tool. It is widely used by architects, building consultants, contractors, electrical and mechanical engineers. It can't be seen as an obsolete process any time soon. Several designers worldwide are still reluctant to adopt the BIM methodology, and contractors use 2D drawings to carry out the operation. 2D drawings can be extracted from the 3D Model, but it will take time to adopt BIM.

Bim Outsourcing, as one of the leading BIM services provider and offer a range of different services from BIM modelling to installation coordination as well as fire protection services. This ensures that our clients can concentrate on their core competencies while still getting a quality service.

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