Author: Tim Jacobs, Senior Designer
August 4, 2014

3D modeling has changed the way we design; for the better. Not only does 3D modeling help the designers and end users visualize space requirements, but also improves drawing efficiency and accuracy.

3D modeling for design allows the designer to see what they would not see when designing in 2D. It gives the designer the ability to physically see how much real estate an object takes from all perspectives. When designing in 2D, the designer needs to create a separate plan and elevation view to see the space requirements of an object, which takes longer to do.
When designing in 3D, the design is done in one model. Whereas when a design is done in 2D, it is typically done in multiple models, one for each view. By doing a design in multiple models it creates an atmosphere where more mistakes can occur by having information duplicated. When a design is done in 3D, it assists designers with coordination. The designer can walk through a 3D model with specialized software and see the actual size and space of the design. It also allows the designer to see if their designs conflict with other disciplines or existing conditions they may not readily see in 2D. The 3D walkthrough software also allows the designer to run interference checks to see if the design clashes with other items in the 3D model. By using the 3D walkthrough software, the designer can easily see whether the design allows for equipment maintenance access and operational access, and addresses safety concerns. This allows the designer to create a more user-friendly design for the end user.

By designing in 3D, the designer can also review a design using the 3D walkthrough software with the end user. This is particularly helpful for end users who have a hard time visualizing designs from 2D drawings. This allows them to see how much clearance and access they will have around a design before it is physically built.
The advantages of 3D modeling for designers is not limited to productivity and coordination, it is an excellent communication tool for both the designer and end user. 3D models can help spark important conversations during the design phase and potentially avoid costly construction mishaps.