Nowadays, the terms “BIM” and “CAD” are often used incorrectly or even interchangeably. Many AEC professionals who are yet looking to adopt these technologies struggle to understand the difference between the two and which one is more suitable for their work. And it is completely understandable because modern BIM and CAD software have numerous overlapping features. Generally speaking, BIM drafting vs 2D drawing is a burning question in the architecture industry.
The rush to learn the difference between the two concepts is partly due to the fact that more and more countries are mandating BIM for large-scale commercial and government-funded projects. Therefore, so there is a need for AEC professionals to clearly distinguish 2D drawing from BIM drafting to always be sure they have the necessary knowledge and expertise. Of course, that doesn’t mean that they have to learn how to create those models and drawings themselves. This task can be outsourced to a professional BIM and CAD company. And now, let’s take a look at the BIM drafting vs 2D drawing comparison to learn what those are and when to use them.
First things first, CAD is more familiar to AEC professionals than BIM. Essentially, computer-aided drafting was designed to replaced manual drafting, making it possible to produce 2D drawings of higher quality and in a shorter time. So it’s something that architects, engineers, and construction teams know how to work with. Furthermore, 2D drawings can be viewed on any electronic device or printed out in any necessary size. This makes a switch from manual drafting easy and relatively inexpensive.
With BIM, or building information modeling, it is a bit more complicated. It is an entirely different technology, based on 3D modeling. Therefore, adopting BIM drafting requires time to learn and adjust, new software, and possibly new devices as well. It can also be difficult if some of the construction teams in a project know how to use BIM and others don’t. So, in this round of BIM drafting vs 2D drawing the latter definitely wins.
#2. Feature Range
BIM drafting allows to create an intelligent 3D model of a building or an infrastructure object based on actual data associated with its physical and functional characteristics. This 3D model can also be viewed in a 2D drawing format. In this case, a floor plan, section, and other views are generated automatically, so there is no need to create each of them from scratch. And since the graphics represent actual building elements, they behave like ones, so it is easier to make changes. For instance, when moving a wall element with a door in it, the door will move together with the wall and the attached walls will adjust to stay connected.
With 2D drawing, however, it’s about drawing lines and inserting different graphic elements. One has to separately draw floor plans, sections, elevations, etc. It is possible, of course, to copy elements to speed up the process, but any updates still need to be introduced manually to each view. Then, apart from 2D drawings, CAD technology also allows to create 3D models. It can be a great way to visualize a small- or medium-scale project with no extreme complexities in terms of design.
#3. Analysis Capability
With BIM drafting, it’s possible to create a complete model of a building with all the elements in it before the construction begins. This allows to analyze the performance of utility systems and the viability of design overall, so an architect can find the flaws and make the necessary corrections. For example, it helps to optimize a building’s energy consumption rates.
This kind of analysis is incredibly important in commercial architecture. Which is why BIM drafting is used almost exclusively for the development of buildings such as office towers, malls, airports, stadiums, etc. However, it can also be used to design residential property with a focus on energy efficiency and sustainability. Furthermore, BIM offers all the necessary tools for the renovation of historical buildings in combination with point cloud modeling technology. Basically, it allows to capture the current state of a building and then convert the point cloud data from the site into a BIM model.
2D drawing, on the other hand, offers fewer possibilities for analysis. It does provide the necessary visualization for an architectural concept, but mainly in terms of dimensions and placement of elements. Using only CAD, it’s not possible to consider all the aspects of construction and operation processes. However, it still allows to spot errors and perfect the design in advance.
In the field of architecture, 2D drawing is usually used for residential real estate construction and renovation. It often helps with interior design issues as well. For instance, a detailed furniture layout with perfectly measured dimensions can show whether the selected furniture will actually fit as intended, saving the client a lot of trouble.
#4. Collaborative Potential
One of the major benefits of BIM drafting is the fact that it significantly improves communication between all the stakeholders in a project. All because BIM models update instantly in all views when a change is made. Several people can work on the file at the same time, editing different views. And cloud integration allows everyone to see the updates as soon as they are made. This way, every team sees how their work integrates with the work of other teams. It is extremely important, considering that BIM is mostly used for large-scale projects with many specialists involved in the construction process.
Using 2D drawing, it’s not possible to make any synchronized changes to all views simultaneously, which could possibly cause certain delays in the process. However, one can still edit the drawings and see the updates in real time with cloud integration. Moreover, before continuing with the BIM drafting vs 2D drawing competition, let’s remember that the two originally have different purposes. Since CAD is normally used in smaller and less complex projects compared to BIM, the number of construction specialists is smaller as well. Therefore, it is much easier to manage communication in the first place.
#5. Post-Construction Use
Even after the construction is finished, both BIM models and 2D drawings continue to be useful. The former ones contain all the vital information for the successful maintenance, cost-efficient renovation, and safe demolition of a building. For instance, BIM models help to find the sources of problems with utility systems before giving tasks to maintenance and repair specialists.
2D drawings also prove to be useful down the road when it comes to renovations. This way, people will always know where the carrying walls are and how big exactly their rooms are, which will save them the disappointment when they start planning the next grand makeover. And it’s especially important in case a property is being sold to new owners who don’t know all the details about it yet.
So, this is all there is to know about CAD and BIM in order to understand which technology will be more suitable for a particular project. Hopefully, it has become obvious by now that if we talk BIM drafting vs 2D drawing for architecture, there is no definitive winner here. While BIM offers more possibilities for design analysis and on-site collaboration, it’s simply not always necessary. Only large-scale commercial projects or highly conceptual, technically complex residential ones truly benefit from BIM drafting.
2D drawings, on the other hand, are familiar and trust-worthy. Basically, they are an upgraded version of hand-drawn sketches. And for many construction and renovation projects, especially in residential architecture, CAD provides more than enough in terms of quality and precision. Therefore, the need to use one technology or the other depends solely on a project’s scale and complexity.
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