The flooring industry and architects alike have long benefitted from the technological advancements of Building Information Modelling (BIM) and Computer Aided Design (CAD), which allow flooring products to be inserted into a building design to ensure the most appropriate product is specified. One of the biggest talking points around these technologies has always been a question: which is better used by architects, BIM or CAD? Specialist entrance matting suppliers, INTRAsystems, recently published a whitepaper, “BIM Vs CAD – The Evolution of Architectural Technology,” and discovered some very interesting insights.

Why Have 53% of Architectural Experts Switched from CAD to BIM?

As part of their research, INTRAsystems carried out a survey of architects to discover their thoughts on the design technology being used in the industry. The results revealed that 53% of architectural experts surveyed had made the switch from using CAD to BIM. There were many different reasons for this, but two main themes were repeated throughout the answers; speed of delivery and visualization of design.

Speed of delivery
Within the survey, ‘speed of the platform’ was chosen as the second most important factor when deciding which architectural design computer technology to use, just behind ‘simplicity of the platform.’ When asked which offers the fastest delivery, BIM or CAD, 53% of respondents stated that BIM offered the fastest delivery, with 37% feeling CAD was faster and 10% finding the two equal in their offering in terms of speed.

What became apparent in terms of speed is that while BIM can make a project move faster as it incorporates more information than CAD, CAD is actually faster for completing a quick, smaller scale project which requires less information. One respondent even stated that “CAD is faster up front, BIM is poor for quick design.”

Another respondent said, “CAD is better for smaller/quicker/simpler projects and in existing buildings; whereas BIM is better for the larger or more complicated new ones. So, until BIM is streamlined it won’t be used for small projects or projects involving existing buildings not already on a BIM Model format.”

If BIM processes can be streamlined, they will continue to dominate the architectural design industry.

Visualization of design
The survey also revealed that 74% of those within the architectural industry felt that BIM offered a better visualization of a building design. The main reason for this is that BIM allows for multiple data and information entries to be attached to each individual element within the design. In terms of the flooring industry, this means that designers and architects can quickly answer questions such as “what type of flooring best suits the needs of each area of the building?” and “how many square meters of each flooring type do we need?”

Not all respondents found that the added information within BIM files enhanced their experience with the platform though, with one respondent saying, “BIM requires too much information from other professions too early on in the design process, which few clients appreciate.” Another respondent said, “BIM requires too much knowledge, which stifles pure artistic creativity, it is also better suited to series production than one off design as ‘every building is a prototype’.”

Of course, there were many other reasons why architects decided to switch from CAD to BIM, including financial motivations. One respondent stated that, “by switching to BIM and a database-driven design approach, the cost savings and efficiencies are huge. For small practices working on very basic projects then CAD is probably still a cheaper alternative; however as soon as you start introducing complexity and multiple users, BIM is a much better solution.” Cost efficiencies are a key consideration for architects, when that’s with the tools they use or the products which are implemented into their designs, so the most cost-effective solution might find itself being the winner in many cases.

The Future of BIM and CAD in the Flooring Industry

While many architects might be moving away from CAD to adopt BIM technologies, it is clear to see that there is still a demand for CAD when it comes to smaller scale or one-off projects. For flooring contractors, this means it is still important to be familiar with both BIM and CAD files to ensure smooth communication between the entire team.

INTRAsystem’s survey revealed that 47% of respondents felt BIM would completely replace CAD in the next ten to twenty years. If you are only offering CAD files and not BIM files, it’s time to start offering BIM as well. There are, however, a lot of opportunities for BIM and CAD to both grow and improve their offerings. For CAD, this will mean increasing personalization, cloud-based collaboration and automation, while BIM is looking to develop into augmented reality and 3D printing integration.

All of this creates a real opportunity for the flooring industry, so those within the industry need to keep an eye on BIM and CAD developments. For more information, download the full whitepaper here.