Ever since 3D printing emerged a few years ago, it has exploded in popularity. Estimates indicate that 3D printing and modeling is now an industry worth more than 7 billion dollars.
Many in the construction industry have taken advantage of 3D modeling as a way to build more interactive models. But now, some project managers have added another dimension to their design. This approach is called 4D planning.
Let's take a closer look at what 4D planning is, and why you should use it for your design projects. Before we can look at 4D planning in more detail, it's important to define some terms.
Computer-assisted Design (CAD)
Whether you're talking about 3D or 4D design, a term that often comes up is CAD. CAD stands for computer-assisted design and refers to the use of computer programs to aid in the creation, analysis, modification, or optimization of the design.
The final product of CAD is an electronic file that can either be viewed on a computer system or printed. CAD can be used to create 2D and 3D projects.
3D Digital Assets and 3D Prints
A 3D digital asset is one form of CAD. It describes a visual model that can be viewed and manipulated on the screen, allowing the user to view the design from various angles.
A 3D digital asset is also the first step in 3D printing. A designer can send the digital 3D file to the printer to get a physical model of the design.
4D planning also goes by the name 4D BIM (Building Information Modeling). This term describes the linking of any 3D CAD components to a time-based or scheduling system.
In this case, then, the fourth dimension that is added is data. 4D planning includes a 3D digital asset, paired with data, documentation, specifications, and reports made around the design.
Now that we have defined our terms, it is easier to understand how builders and designers can use 4D BIM.
Helping Teams Understand a Project
Adding the element of intelligence to a project 3D model can help a team of engineers and designers to more accurately plan for all elements of a construction project. With this ability, designers can make detailed models that describe exactly how a project will work.
Who Uses 4D BIM?
So what kinds of projects are best assisted by 4D BIM technology? Typically, engineers, architects, and construction workers benefit the most from 4D BIM.
These professions all work in the business of creating new design and structures. 3D modeling can help them see what a finished product should look like before they actually start working with the materials. Adding data with 4D modeling helps workers to understand the timeline and process associated with the building project.
The data0 component of 4D BIM is especially helpful for projects that might take several months, or even years to finish. For instance, imagine that a construction company is tasked with building a new skyscraper, or a housing development. An undertaking of this size is extremely involved and can be difficult to plan out.
With 4D BIM, the building team can plot out the exact schedule for the project having all the reports, documents, and data at their fingertips. They can create a 3D model that demonstrates which pieces of the design will be added at which time.
Benefits of Using 4D Models
We've already addressed how using 4D models can help design and construction teams better visualize how a project will play out. But that's not the only benefit of using 4D BIM.
Once you start using actual building materials, there are costs involved. It is not feasible for design teams to try out different approaches to building the same structure to see which is most efficient.
By contrast, other than the cost of software, there is no cost associated with building 3D models. This approach allows a project manager to test multiple ways of building the project on multiple trial schedules.
Try New Things
Because of the costs associated with building things in the real world, it is often tempting for designers to play it safe. Sticking to a well-known approach will deliver predictable results.
By contrast, trying a new method of construction or engineering brings risk. On one hand, it could be cost-saving; on the other hand, it could turn out far less effective and efficient.
With 4D modeling, designers can attempt these new approaches without wasting costly materials. This can give designers the ability to test out a large number of designs in a short period of time. Testing out all of these options increases the likelihood that the designer will find a more effective option.
Using 4D modeling to schedule a project allows engineers to run their project through a "dress rehearsal," so to speak. The software can help them anticipate how many materials and laborers they will need, and at what point in the project they will need them. Having access to this information will help project managers to invest in the proper amount of materials, which can help to reduce waste.
For instance, based on the 4D scheduling software, project managers can optimize different factors related to the project. They can schedule when materials will be delivered, or when workers will start. Managers can save on labor costs by waiting to hire extra employees until moments in the project that require it.
4D modeling can also help construction teams to finish their projects more quickly. By planning out the exact schedule ahead of time, every member of the team will be able to know their role throughout the entire project.
Start Using 4D Planning Today
With these benefits in mind, it's easy to see why 4D planning is an effective tool for design and construction projects. 4D modeling can help you and your team make more effective designs to keep your projects on task.
If you would like to get started using 4D planning, contact us. We will work with you to help bring your project to life.