Perfect Alignment: From 3D Design to the Final Bolt


Imagine the possibilities if you could design buildings that combine the artistry of stunning craftsmanship with the science of building.

Over the last several decades, the Architecture, Engineering & Construction (AEC) industry has required cost effective project delivery, while customers still demand high quality and advanced systems design. The fragmented processes across designers, architects, engineers and fabricators combined with traditional design tools, have contributed to this by constraining the possibilities for design.

The good news is that many leading companies have found ways to break down those barriers to seamlessly connect design to fabrication. As a result, they can unleash creative potential and standout from their competition, without sacrificing deadlines or budget.

Combine Art and Engineering

A beautiful building stands out. It even creates a sense of awe that draws people to it. It inspires and creates an emotional connection that makes people feel better in the space. It’s the artistry of that building that shapes that emotion.

However, with that artistry often comes complex geometry, which is much harder to visualize in traditional 2D design tools. What’s exciting is that with 3D digital technologies, you can sculpt and craft surfaces, letting your imagination and creativity explore possibilities. With a 3D model, you now have immediate visual feedback on the overall aesthetic appeal so that you can optimize it.

As an example, A. ZAHNER Company, an award winning architectural engineering, manufacturing, and construction firm, has seen just this with the 3DEXPERIENCE® platform from Dassault Systèmes.

“3D digital technologies enable us to design more complex geometries; we are no longer limited by two-dimensional drawings,” says L. William Zahner, president and CEO at ZAHNER.

While artistry makes a building special, it must also be combined with building science. By using a platform that allows you to combine artistry and engineering, aesthetics become a natural part of the building design process.

Further, a platform that enables the seamless connection from design to fabrication provides true insight to support every design decision.

As you explore questions such as what shape should the windows be? Should they be recessed or flush with the exterior? Which trim options will work best? You not only have a perspective on the visual appeal, but as a platform, you can also factor other criteria into decisions such as sustainability, energy efficiency, maintainability, and even security.

As you evaluate different materials, you can understand not only the structural and budget impact, but also how colors and textures impact aesthetic appeal.

 Build Better Buildings

A holistic platform must also allow for precision and control. It should provide features that support design innovation and flexibility, yet preserve design intent.

For example, template based design is a powerful feature that will support design and engineering by saving time. With it, engineers can define parameters such as requirements for the structural design.

The software then evaluates numerous scenarios to quickly arrive at an optimized shape that meets engineering criteria. An integrated, end-to-end platform will then preserve that design intent so that what is built, matches what was designed.

Another benefit is that as a collaborative, 3D environment, problems become easier to spot so that quality is better. For example, you can identify interferences between ductwork and plumbing and correct them during design rather than during construction.

As part of the platform, simulation capabilities also support better building and civil design. Simulation can look for potential structural or heating/cooling problems. You can even simulate building and civil construction to identify and correct problems before construction starts, ensuring the design is buildable. Another Dassault Systèmes’ customer, CadMakers, has found the 3DEXPERIENCE platform has helped with this.

“Roughly 30% of the problems or risks we identify in a given project result entirely from the fact that we’re able to view the building and its systems in an integrated, 3D model.” says Javier Glatt, co-founder and CEO, CadMakers.

 Increase Velocity and Efficiency of Designs

With a traditional project, design is very iterative. One group completes their work and then passes it on to the next, limiting collaboration. This is much slower so the design work takes much longer to complete.

By connecting everyone on a seamless platform, everyone can work together much more easily. Work can be done concurrently; with visibility into how the work done by others may impact you. Overall, this leads to much greater efficiency.

Building Information Modelling (BIM), which is a 3D digital model of the structure, is one way to support this. It embeds all the required information to fabricate, build, and even support facility management in the model.

Everyone involved in the different design functions, such as architectural design, structural engineering, MEP, and civil engineering can collaborate on the single model.

Many companies find that it helps to improve efficiencies and reduce errors. For example, ZAHNER has seen a lot of value with BIM and the way the 3DEXPERIENCE platform supports it.

“Our company has been using BIM and digital definition to improve transparency that reduces errors through a leaner, more streamlined construction process,” says William Zahner.

Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) also helps. The American Institute of Architects defines IPD as a project delivery approach that integrates people, systems, business structures, and practices into a process to collaboratively harness the talents and insights of all participants.

This optimizes project results, increases value to the owner, reduces waste, and maximizes efficiency through all phases of design, fabrication, and construction. IPD supports lean construction.

Connecting everyone on a single platform, in a virtual environment, enables IPD.

In addition to engineering design, a complete end-to-end platform should also support key functions, such as engineering document management, construction document management, construction project management, and cost management.

Together, this will support seamless and efficient processes from design to fabrication.

 Learn More

By using the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, ZAHNER has been able to achieve truly remarkable work.

 “The types of projects we’re doing today were not possible 20 years ago,” says Shannon Cole, senior project engineer at ZAHNER. “With the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, they now are.”

 Find out how you too can do this and bring the craftsmanship back to design. Learn how ZAHNER designs their projects, and how they are constructed. Discover the advantages of seamlessly connecting your design to fabrication process to realize greater efficiency with fewer errors. Hear how companies like ZAHNER are using Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform to manage their projects with great success.

 Visit 3ds.com/AEC to learn more.