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Top 10 Benefits of 3D Modeling in Construction and Design Industry

Pragya Sharma

11 min read

October 19, 2023


Table of Contents

Imagine explaining an idea with the help of a sketch; and then explaining the same idea using a model. Which presentation do you think would be better? The one with the model, right? 

This is because a model makes it easier for you to put forth your ideas as you can showcase them on a smaller scale. Concurrently, it helps people visualise and leaves no room for wrong interpretations. So, a 3D model poses a win-win situation for everyone in the creative business, making the process of design faster, easier, and more efficient. 

What is 3D Modelling?

Using 3D modelling software for design visualisation

3D modelling is the process of generating three-dimensional objects using computational tools. A model is developed based on detailed 2D drawings provided by the design team. The applications of 3D modelling find relevance in many industries like gaming, healthcare, publishing, manufacturing, architecture, interior design, and construction. SketchUp, Revit, 3DsMax, Rhino 3D, and ArchiCAD are some of the most popular and widely-used 3D modelling software amongst Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) professionals. 

Read : Understanding 3D Architectural Modelling And Its Types

How Does 3D Modelling Work?

A rendered view of a 3D model

3D models are made up of vertices (points), edges (lines connecting these points), and faces (surfaces formed by these connections). By manipulating and connecting various elements, designers can construct intricate 3D structures.

There are three primary approaches to 3D modelling – wireframe modelling, surface modelling and solid modelling. Let’s have a look at what differentiates them. 

1. Wireframe Modelling

Wireframe modelling is the simplest form of 3D modelling. It represents a 3D object using only lines and points, creating a skeletal framework of the object without any surfaces or volumes.

2. Surface Modelling

Surface modelling involves creating a digital skin or surface that envelops a 3D object. It focuses on the object's outer appearance rather than its internal structure.

3. Solid Modelling

Solid modelling is the most comprehensive approach to creating 3D models with both surfaces and volume. It captures the complete geometry of an object, including its exterior and interior.

Once a model is ready, materiality, colour, and texture are added to the object, space, or structure. Following this, a light source is introduced to understand the interaction of the 3D model with its surrounding environment. The final step in 3D modelling is rendering, which turns the raw 3D model into a visually appealing image or animation. 

What are the Benefits of 3D Modeling in Construction?

3D model of a housing complex

3D modelling has proved to be a boon for AEC professionals. It has become an indispensable tool not only for visualisation but also served as a base for advanced computational design. Let’s have a look at the top 10 benefits of 3D modeling in construction. 

1. Improved Design Visualisation

The AEC industry is a rare blend of creativity and rationality. Therefore, we often come across unusual building designs that take time to implement in reality. However, 3D modelling helps deal with this issue by allowing professionals to visualise remotely possible ideas with unparalleled clarity. Architects and engineers can use 3D models to effectively collaborate and avoid confusion during construction. 

2. Achieving Precision and Accuracy

3D modelling offers a level of design precision that is difficult to achieve through traditional methods of visualisation such as sketching and 2D drafting. Using 3D modelling, professionals can create highly accurate 3D models that capture every detail of the project. This precision is invaluable for critical aspects like structural integrity, spatial relationships, and component specifications. It helps identify design flaws early in the process, minimising costly revisions during construction.

3. Enhanced Team Collaboration

Building construction and infrastructure projects rely highly on the collaboration of various stakeholders, including architects, engineers, contractors, subcontractors, and clients. 3D modelling software such as Revit, TeklaStructures, Solidworks, and ArchiCAD serve as a common platform for all parties involved. They provide a shared understanding of the project, which fosters improved communication and collaboration. This translates to better coordination and decision-making throughout the project lifecycle.

4. Clash Detection and Resolution

One of the most significant benefits of 3D modeling in construction is clash detection. 3D models help in digitally representing all project components, professionals can detect clashes and conflicts between structural, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems. This early identification of issues allows for swift resolution before construction begins. As a result, costly on-site adjustments, delays, and rework are minimised, contributing to significant cost savings.

5. Environment-friendly Design

In the times of exceeding global warming and climate change, 3D modelling aids the incorporation of sustainability in AEC projects. Using 3D models, professionals can analyse the environmental impact and energy performance of a building. Consequently, design modifications can be made to enhance a project for sustainability parameters such as optimising natural light, ventilation, and insulation. 

6. Effective Project Cost Estimation

The preparation of the Bill of Quantities (BOQ) is a critical aspect of project management. The benefits of 3D modeling in construction extend to this wing by allowing professionals to generate precise material quantification and costs. With detailed models at their disposal, they can calculate the exact amount of materials, labour, and other resources required for the project. This accuracy results in more realistic budgets and better cost control throughout the project's lifecycle.

7. Safety Analysis

Given the nature of construction projects, there is a high possibility of life-threatening events that may happen during the process. So, one of the most crucial benefits of 3D modeling in construction is the ability to simulate construction processes and identify potential safety hazards. This proactive approach enables professionals to take necessary precautions and implement safety measures. It contributes to a safer working environment for construction personnel and helps prevent accidents and injuries.

8. Efficient Facility Management

The benefits of 3D modeling in construction extend beyond the construction phase. These models can serve as a foundation for efficient facility management. The process of Building Information Modelling (BIM) can be used to store information about the building's components, systems, and maintenance schedules. This information is of great value for facility managers and project owners in optimising building performance and reducing operational costs.

Read: 8 Most Popular Building Information Modelling Software to Master in 2022 For Your Career

9. Streamlined Construction Planning 

The benefits of 3D modelling tools go beyond the process of design. It helps engineers and contractors create detailed construction plans, material quantity takeoffs, construction phasing, project budgeting, and scheduling. Such ability to visualise the entire construction process ensures smoother and more efficient execution, reducing the likelihood of delays and cost overruns. This is one of the most striking benefits of 3D modeling in construction. 

10. Making Way for New Technology 

The AEC industry is continually evolving, and 3D modelling is defining the way forward for it. Today, we are witnessing the integration of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) into the modelling process, further enhancing project visualisation and stakeholder engagement. Furthermore, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are being used to automate tasks and analyse data in futuristic ways. 

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How to Choose a 3D Modelling Software for Your Project?

Using 3D modelling for construction

Selecting a 3D modelling software involves the consideration of many factors such as usability, the need for creative liberty, team collaboration, construction efficiency, industry practices, etc. So, to make an informed choice, you must start by accounting for the specific needs of your project and team skill level. 

If you're a beginner, it is ideal to opt for user-friendly software like SketchUp, which offers an intuitive interface. However, skilled professionals can look for software like Revit and ArchiCAD that provide an array of features for complex projects. Additionally, we recommend you look for software that offers compatibility with processes like BIM, which allows you to create 3D models enriched with rich information. Such software enables seamless collaboration among architects, engineers, and contractors. Last but not least, you must prioritise compatibility with industry-standard file formats like IFC (Industry Foundation Classes) to ensure smooth data exchange between various project stakeholders.

Read : What is Lod & Everything About it in 3D Modelling

5 Best 3D Modelling Tools for Architects and Engineers

Thanks to the manifold benefits of 3D modeling in construction, 3D software is gaining rapid acceptance in the industry. So, if you are looking for recommendations to help you narrow down a good 3D modelling software for your project, below is a list you can use.

1. Revit

Revit in architecture

Revit is a powerhouse for architects and engineers, particularly in the realm of Building Information Modeling (BIM). It offers a comprehensive suite of tools for designing, documenting, and visualising building plans. What sets Revit apart is its ability to create intelligent 3D models that contain data for every building component. This data-driven approach facilitates seamless collaboration between all project stakeholders.

Read: Revit Vs SketchUp: Which Software is Better & Why? (2023)

2. SketchUp


SketchUp is world-renowned for its user-friendly interface and is a preferred choice for designers who need to quickly and intuitively generate 3D models. Its versatility allows architects and engineers to create conceptual designs, as well as detailed construction documents. SketchUp's vast library of extensions and plugins adds to its appeal, enabling users to tailor the software to their specific needs. 

3. Civil 3D

Civil 3D

For civil engineers working on land development projects, Civil 3D is a top pick. This software is specialised in civil engineering and infrastructure design, offering tools for surveying, road design, and land development. Its integration with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data and the ability to create dynamic, data-rich models make it indispensable for urban planning, transportation engineering, and land development projects.

4. Rhino

Rhino 3D

Rhinoceros 3D, largely known as Rhino, is a versatile 3D modeling tool that's highly regarded by architects, industrial designers, and engineers. It excels in creating complex, free-form 3D models and is often used for intricate and organic designs. Rhino's extensive support for plugins and scripting opens up a world of customisation and parametric design, allowing architects and engineers to explore innovative solutions.

5. ArchiCAD


ArchiCAD, similar to Revit, is a powerful BIM software widely used by architectural firms across the globe. It offers an integrated design and documentation workflow, making it easier for architects to create detailed building models and produce construction documents. ArchiCAD's intelligent objects and parametric tools help professionals streamline the design process and make it more efficient.

What is the Future of 3D Modelling in the AEC Industry?

The future applications of 3D modelling in AR and VR

3D modelling has ushered in a new era of creative thinking and visualisation for AEC professionals. While this technology continues to redefine the industry, let’s have a look at how it will impact the future of work in the construction domain.

1. Extensive BIM Dominance

Thanks to 3D modelling, BIM will continue to play a central role in the AEC industry. The use of BIM will continue to make projects more efficient and enhance collaboration, thereby resulting in cost savings and improved project outcomes.

2. Integration of Extended Reality

Using 3D models, professionals can use AR and VR to create immersive experiences that allow clients and other project stakeholders to visualise projects in real-time. This not only aids in the design development process but also makes it easier to communicate project concepts. 

3. Adoption of Artificial Intelligence

The concept of generative design is gaining prominence in design and construction projects. Especially in the wake of design trends like parametric design and biomimetic design, the use of AI will only increase. With the help of 3D modelling, designers can create complex, organic, and highly efficient structures by defining parameters that help generate a design. 

4. 3D Printing and Prefabrication

Although the concepts of 3D printing and digital fabrication are in their nascent stages in the AEC industry, they will soon become integral construction methods in the near future. With the help of 3D printing technology, professionals can be used to create intricate building components, reducing construction time and material waste. 

5. Cloud-Based Collaboration

Cloud-based collaboration tools enable remote teams to collectively work on 3D models in real time, regardless of their geographical location. This not only improves communication but also allows for easier version control and data management, leading to more efficient project execution.

In Conclusion

The benefits of 3D modeling in the AEC industry touch every aspect of the project lifecycle. It acts as a catalyst of change, helping achieve both quality and quantity of work. With its potential for future growth and integration with emerging technologies, it is evident that 3D modelling has become a fundamental tool in shaping the world of tomorrow.

If you are an AEC professional who wishes to learn 3D modelling and make yourself future-relevant, you must consider enrolling in upskilling courses. We recommend you check out the BIM Professional Courses for Novatr, distinctly curated for architects and civil engineers to provide them insights into the industry-specific applications of BIM. Explore the courses today.

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