3D modelling isn’t something exceptionally new in the construction industry. Still, it has garnered more popularity as the technology has become more accessible to more companies across the board.
Previously, 3D modelling in construction included intricate work with 3D artists and high-performance computers, not to mention large budgets to make credible and precise 3D images of projects. Luckily, that’s not the case now. With the help of technological advancement, modern, straightforward software, and cloud-based systems, 3D modelling became fast and accurate as well as an industry standard, which only grew in importance with the introduction of 3D BIM modelling services.
There are a few pros and cons of 3D modelling, and in this article, we’ll go over the most obvious advantages and possible drawbacks of the technology.
What is 3D Modelling?
This technology refers to the creation of three-dimensional representations of 2D designs, which adds a whole new dimension to the process in every sense of the word. It helps engineers and their clients better visualise and understand a construction project, thus helping them make smarter and more precise decisions regarding the design, layout, and overall construction.
These designs or construction models can create initial ideas or plan the entire construction timeline. They also make excellent marketing materials and may generate more leads for a business.
3D BIM modelling brought about a new era in engineering and design. BIM stands for Building Information Modelling and entails developing virtual models of shapes, structures, and systems which hold information about each component of the building in one place.
Benefits of 3D Modelling in Construction
Below, we will discuss why 3D modelling has helped transform the construction industry’s workflow.
More Space for Being Creative
Needless to say, a 3D project provides a huge opportunity to become more creative. It allows experts to visualise the project from a myriad of angles and perspectives, and they can also experiment with different designs.
This can help them spot some less apparent problems early in the design process and allow them to develop innovative solutions.
Problems are Easier to Identify Earlier
Regarding the benefits of 3D modelling in construction, most experts agree that 3D is excellent at identifying potential problems early in the construction process.
With the help of 3D modelling, it’s easier to catch any issues early on in the design period, as its easy visualisation shows clashes or overlaps that can be resolved and any errors minimised. This won’t only save money but also avoid potential delays, speeding up the delivery process. With 3D modelling, design issues won’t become costly mistakes.
3D Models “Communicate” Better
Site plans are often just as important as the design itself in the planning process. In the era of 2D designs, drawings left quite a lot of things up to the designer’s and client’s imagination.
The realistic and artificial lighting that’s achievable in 3D modelling gives clients a representation of the site layout that’s easier to understand fully.
Easy to Review
A construction project will usually be a complex task that involves several teams fulfilling different roles. Before 3D technology, the design stage was crucial because everyone involved in the project had to know how to visualise the finished product based on less elaborate (and for the untrained eye), often overwhelming 2D drawings.
The revision of 3D models is much faster and streamlined as everyone involved will get a better sense of how the finished construction will look and how it should fit into the space surrounding it.
Better Team Collaboration
With the help of 3D modelling software, it’s easier to include engineers, architects, construction workers, and clients in the actual design process. Everybody can see the finished project in a realistic representation, making it easier to communicate ideas and troubleshoot problems, and ultimately, it also leads to better team coordination across the board because everybody clearly understands how the finished project will look like.
On the other hand, cloud-based solutions can improve team collaboration efforts even further, with an instantly updated design after every small change. Easy follow-up in real time, facilitated change management, with access to full information granted by a data-rich 3D environment, is what best connects multidisciplinary teams and workflows.
Improved Customer Satisfaction
As hinted already above, the benefits of 3D modelling in construction aren’t just apparent from a strictly professional perspective.
A large number of construction projects are done for paying investors and clients. In the era of 2D drawings, customers often felt left in the dark after looking at the often-overwhelming technical 2D designs as they tried to make sense of everything on paper.
Fortunately, 3D design has eliminated this problem, as every project will come in a three-dimensional, realistic representation, making it a lot easier for clients to understand the end result. This also makes communicating changes and new ideas easier with clients. High precision and accuracy of details and the innate collaborative approach and instant visual feedback of 3D BIM modelling is what makes the services so popular in the industry.
Also, the technology helps designers avoid misunderstandings, and the likelihood of clients having unrealistic expectations is minimised.
Disadvantages of 3D Modelling
As you can see, 3D technology managed to introduce an abundance of benefits to the design and construction process. Still, that doesn’t mean that 3D modelling doesn’t have its own drawbacks.
Below, we’ll discuss the most obvious cons of 3D modelling.
It’s Easy to Communicate Over-The-Top Ideas
In the right creative hands, 3D technology is an immensely useful construction tool that can speed up the entire delivery process. Still, there are cases when designers tend to go overboard and end up creating solutions that are more difficult to execute and build than design. While most experienced designers will usually be able to tell if they’ve overlooked any design flaws before handing their work out, inexperienced ones or newcomers might let something out of their hands that will end up “going back to the drawing board” because the execution of the project is overly tricky or needs excessive budgetary changes to make it work.
Matching Budget and Design
While it’s easier for clients to understand 3D design than 2D blueprints better, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they better understand what they can get for their budget. And as 3D technology enables designers to improve and add more to any project, some clients who don’t understand their budgetary constraints might ask for changes that will be out of their range. While this might not be a problem if they get notified about this early in the process, this can lead to a lot of inconveniences if they are presented with the calculations late in the construction process.
Software Cost Issues
While this may not be a problem for larger companies with more extensive budgets, the truth is that 3D modelling software has yearly subscription fees that cost a couple of thousand euros. Sure, there are cheaper options with less expensive licenses and free versions of 3D modelling gear, but most experts agree that they aren’t up to the standards required by the industry in most cases.
As such, free and less expensive solutions might be great for learning and hobby projects, but those experts and companies who want to work with the best software should know that the premium tools will come at a cost.
More About Software
There are several stellar pieces of software on the market that help in modelling steel structures and constructions. Among the most prominent solutions are:
This software gives designers the chance to develop and execute intricate tasks in a timely manner, providing clients with high-quality 3D visuals for their clientele. The solution also offers a variety of outstanding features, such as:
- Enhanced collaboration
- Parametric family creation
- Efficient planning and scheduling
- Automation capabilities
Another favourite among designers and engineers, Parabuild offers a gradual learning curve. Providing instant visual feedback, the software enables easy 3D modelling with excellent features such as complete integration with AutoCAD & BricsCAD, runtime exercises, and customisation without programming.
Often described as a “one-stop shop” that lets engineers and designers work on a project from its initial design idea to complete fabrication. Also, intuitive and easy-to-understand Tekla Structures enable experts to create and finalise everything from straightforward projects to more intricate designs – all on the same platform.
This platform also tends to speed up design and delivery times, featuring a 64-bit architecture and modern working environment, True structural BIM modelling, flexible loading, and seamless communication with other BIM systems.
Regarding software alone, there’s no one-fits-all solution as most of these programs are suited for one or two specific tasks, and getting an all-in-one program that does slicing, animation, rendering, sculpting, and modelling can be difficult. And even if a designer manages to get a solution that supports all of these features, the chances are high that there will be quality inconsistencies between these features. Having every tool needed to meet specific client and project needs may require using several tools. This can also drive expenses up and lets us to two more disadvantages associated with 3D modelling.
Mastering the Solutions Takes Time
Learning how to maximise the capabilities and features of these solutions can take a lot of time and effort. The learning curve is usually steep, and it takes years of training to find a true expert.
Outsourcing to the Wrong Designers
Finding professionals isn’t necessarily difficult, but it isn’t exactly inexpensive either. Because designers, architects, and engineers will often have to learn to use several modelling tools (all of them with more or less steep learning curves), they might charge higher rates for their expertise when working with clients. This isn’t necessarily a problem, as it’s pretty much guaranteed that the end result will be exemplary, well-executed, and overall excellent.
Problems arise when clients, due to budgetary concerns, try to keep the design costs low and hire designers with no proven track record to do a job. While it doesn’t mean that somebody with less experience won’t do a good job, gambling on such massive and costly projects might not be a good idea. Because of this, it’s always imperative that clients work with a reputable design team who have an extensive and representative portfolio.
It’s About Expertise
As you can see, the pros and cons of 3D modelling mostly boil down to the professionalism of the team you work with as a client. 3D modelling has brought a lot to the table and revolutionised the construction industry, creating a bridge between teams, experts, and clients.
Expertise is the single most important factor in getting the most out of 3D modelling projects, and as long as you work with reputable industry professionals, you will be in good hands.