Difference between CAD & BIM

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  • Author Amelia Raymen
  • Published October 31, 2020
  • Word count 736

In order to facilitate an architecture firm, there are two key design methods that can execute full design concepts. To compare both (CAD) and (BIM), we will first need to see how they are both utilized in an architectural design office and what are the key differences and advantages from one over the other.

(CAD) stands for computer-aided design, sometimes also referred to as (CADD) (computer-aided design and drafting). This method was first used during the 1960s in research and development, then gradually started to be used in various commercial projects, in particular automotive and aerospace. Over the next 20-30 years, it evolved and eventually became a fully main-stream design technology with the explosion of personal computers in the 1980s-1990s. Nowadays, (CAD) software is used in virtually all design concepts including industrial, manufacturing, tooling, machinery, electrical, automotive, aerospace and construction. We will focus our attention on the software’s use in the building construction process and its use by architects, engineers and construction managers.

Capturing design is about the techniques and methods that support the designer in creating a digital representation of his/her mental image. It’s a method of drafting and detailing an accurate and realistic representation of a design concept. In a completed stage of design, a full representation of the building/product will be in the form of blueprints. In short, blueprints are the final guide to making and completing something, if the drawings are followed correctly the finished product will be exactly as detailed on the blueprints.

(CAD) was originally providing 2D designs, however, in recent years, it has evolved into 3D design modeling to provide a more in-depth visualization of the project. Architects can use (CAD) software to create the entire project, they can provide detailed designs for the engineers and construction personnel to follow on-site. Engineers and construction managers utilize the software to a lesser degree, i.e. making amendments, however, they will often work with architects throughout the project.

(BIM) is an acronym for Building Information Modelling.

It is a highly advanced process that allows architects, engineers and construction personnel to collaborate on a building design through one complete and complex 3D model. Nowadays the use of (BIM) in architecture is the standard practice in the design and build process and often the entire construction will base itself on this complete and complex model. (BIM) is an extremely dynamic program that allows for intricate details of a building design if required, e.g. location and size of screws and brackets to thickness and materials to be used.

It also includes everything from mechanical, electrics, plumbing and ventilation to be accurately included in fine detail within the model. The unique qualities of (BIM) is that if any amendments take place, it will carry across to all components and elevations, eg, moving a window will carry across to the floor plans and all elevations so you can visualize the change from all sides.

It will also pinpoint exactly how this change will reflect on the entire building and all its components. e.g., will be changing the window location affect electrical works or can it affect the downpipes within walls. The software will often bridge the gap from viewing a draft drawing and visualizing the building, to seeing the intricate details of the building and all its rooms in great detail. When an amendment takes place and is instructed to (BIM) it will show and notify you of any conflicts, allowing little room for errors. Also, it allows multiple users to change and edit the same file and will automatically merge those changes. (BIM) is considered to have been used since the early 2000s and has grown rapidly since then to now be the main component for design and architecture.

The representation of a design plays a very central role in the discipline of architecture and although both (CAD) and (BIM) have the same objectives, (BIM) is considered the modern form of architecture design. (CAD) is still relevant in the construction industry; particularly as it is often used on-site, however, it is considered to be used more often in other fields of design such as manufacturing and tooling.

As technology evolves the design and construction industry has followed and with other forms of technology such as virtual reality already used in various sectors, we can only imagine how the design of a building can be represented in the future.

In order to facilitate an architecture firm, there are two key design methods that can execute full design concepts. To compare both (CAD) and (BIM), we will first need to see how they are both utilized in an architectural design office and what are the key differences and advantages from one over the other.

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