September 8, 2016

Phones and Drafting: A Parallel History

Remember the late 1990’s when owning a cell phone was considered a luxury not a necessity? It is weird to think about a cell phone not being a necessity nowadays, but really at that time if you wanted to make a phone call (which was all a cell phone was used for, with texting as a possible add-on if you wanted to spend an extra $15 a month) you could find a phone booth on just about every other street corner. Just drop one quarter in and you could call anyone you wanted. No cell phone needed.

In today’s world, a cell phone is a necessity to some degree. What you couldn’t do with a phone at a phone booth or the first cell phones introduced to us, you can now do with the touch of your fingertips. We can now contact all of our loved ones and friends wherever they are, check the stats of your favorite sports teams, or keep track of your business using word files or spreadsheets with your smartphone.

Similar changes and advances have been made in the drafting and design industry. Those who have been involved in the construction design industry for a long time now, remember when hand drafting was the only way to create construction plans. When hand drafting or sketches were done to finish projects, the process took a very long time. Do you remember how long it took you to find a payphone, get off of your vehicle, look for the number you wanted to call, then go back to your car to find a quarter in between the seats in order to make that call? Now you can even speak to the smartphone to make the phone call for you! This might be an exaggerated comparison but the people that used to hand draft know how troublesome and time consuming it was to draw up just one plan.

When CAD (computer aided design) came along in the drafting industry, it really changed the game for architects, engineers, and other project managers. CAD redefined an industry that really needed a boost to save time and create construction documents to make them look cleaner. Think about when the color screen phones were rolled out in the early to mid 2000’s. Color made the cell phone easier to use. Not only that, color enabled cell phones to provide a more dynamic internet experience and exciting messaging features. CAD also brought some exciting features to the drafting world, including layer managing, external file linking, and more file sharing options. Before CAD, a designer would have to use specific thicknesses of mechanical pencil lead to indicate different types of systems, and changes to drawings occurred much slower because plans had to be physically ferried back and forth between architects and consultants. CAD was accepted by everyone who felt like they needed to get projects out of the door faster and with better precision to the hands of clients.

Today, just about everyone in the design and construction industry is familiar with BIM (building information modeling). BIM is software that is used by a design team to create a 3D geometric model through electronic files that represent a final project. REVIT is one of many software programs that are used for building information modeling. REVIT along with other BIM programs have made a huge impact in the coordination and vision of a construction project. Before building information modeling, contractors, architects, and engineers would have a difficult time coordinating things like ceiling heights, roof structures and beams. With BIM programs, you can now see the entire building structure, room heights, and beams and can more easily design systems based on a more comprehensive building design. Having BIM software products in your office is not a necessity thus far as there are other ways to create construction plans, but when a client or project owner can see the building model in 3D it can be more appealing to the client and it helps them keep their vision true.

Now that doesn’t mean that 3D modeling is flawless and that is doesn’t have any issues. When the first iPhone came out in 2007, many issues that annoyed customers were reported. Throughout the years, the iPhone as well as other smartphones have improved with better quality and features. Drafting and design tools have improved and will continue to improve similarly, better quality and better features.

From phone booths to being able to Facetime or Skype with your friends and family, we realize how fast technology can change and impact our lives. The design and drafting industry has fully embraced new methods of detailing and showing clients what the final product can look like after construction.

By Tony Maldonado, CAD Technician