Moving from 2nd to 3rd dimension, is it worth it?
Studies published in the Smart Market reports in 2010 showed that in the UK, at least 35% of construction professionals were already using 3D technology. This means that nearly 65% were still using 2D CAD systems. Recognising the benefits of 3D technology, which are universally accepted across the AEC industry, it is surprising that 3D technology has not penetrated the construction industry to a much greater level.
So why is it taking so long for professionals to embrace 3D technology? Many people may argue that 2D CAD is the best system for their projects. Their argument may be based on the fact that they have been using 2D CAD for many years and it works for them or that making the change from 2D to 3D is considered too difficult, too costly or too risky at the present time. A further reason maybe the fact that site work relies heavily on the use of plans. Site workers do not yet carry a computer tablet to the ‘work face’ for the information they require. They have resort to 2D paper plans for the information. Another reason is that planning permission, at present, can only be granted on the basis of 2D documentation. This fact alone explains why currently, 2D CAD is still a necessary part of our working process. In addition, the usefulness of using 2D CAD for quick tracing of land registry plans, agreement plans, lease plans, etc cannot be overlooked.
3D CAD has huge benefits over 2D CAD especially for designers, architects, engineers and contractors. An obvious benefit is that a basic 3D CAD model can easily be visualised and analysed which is a huge advantage for non-technical clients to better understand their project from the outset. Studies also reveal that 3D technology is expected to grow and will have a high importance to our working process in the future.
Our record of implementing change in the construction industry is not good. How often do you hear people talk using imperial measurements? You may read ‘150mm’ but automatically translate it to ‘6″‘. Many of our components are metric equivalents of old imperial items. Whilst the benefits of 3D CAD are well documented and easily demonstrated visually, there seems to be a reluctance to ‘take-the-plunge’ into 3D software and systems. It is not a surprise that this is taking a long time.
We at CGD Ltd spent a number of months contemplating the move towards more 3D technologies. The cost of new equipment, the need to change the way we work, the cost of training and more importantly a commitment from management to make the change. Once we decided to make the change we purchased new ‘Laser scanning’ equipment and committed to using 3D information as a standard. We are able to use this information to create 2D CAD drawings but would prefer to provide clients with more accurate and reliable 3D information.
CGD Ltd have experts on 2D CAD drafting and 3D modelling and we are continually looking at improving our approach to collaborating with our clients in order to streamline the workflow both in 2D and 3D.