Effectiveness of communication of spatial engineering information through 3D CAD and 3D printed models

Gabriel B. Dadi, Paul M. Goodrum, Timothy Rb Taylor, William F. Maloney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Background: Poor engineering information provided to construction crews results in inefficient communication of design, leading to construction rework, disputes, and lower worker morale. The resulting errors, omissions, and misinterpretations indicates that a significant opportunity exists to improve the traditional documentation of engineering information that craft professionals use to complete their work. Historically, physical three dimensional (3D) models built by hand provided 3D physical representations of the project to assist in sequencing, visualization, and planning of critical construction activities. This practice has greatly diminished since the adoption of three dimensional CAD (computer-aided design) and BIM (building information modeling) technologies. Recently, additive manufacturing technologies have allowed for three dimensional printing of 3D CAD models. Methods: The effectiveness of 2D drawings, a 3D computer model, and a 3D printed model in delivering engineering information to an end-user are scientifically measured. Results: The 3D printed model outperformed the 2D drawings and 3D computer interface in productivity and workload measures. Conclusions: A physical model has the ability to improve communication of spatial design for certain tasks. This could lead to improved productivity, reduction of errors, and better quality for construction tasks. This paper's primary contribution to the body of knowledge is that it identifies how different mediums of engineering information impact the communication of spatial engineering information.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9
JournalVisualization in Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014, Dadi et al.; licensee Springer.


  • 3D printing
  • Communication
  • Labor productivity
  • Visualization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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