Performance of 3D computers and 3d printed models as a fundamental means for spatial engineering information visualization

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Engineering information delivery can be a source of inefficient communication of design, leading to construction rework and lower worker morale. Due to errors, omissions, and misinterpretations, there remains a great opportunity 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 3D computer-aided design (CAD) and building information modeling technologies. Recently, additive manufacturing (a.k.a. 3D printing) technologies have allowed for three dimensional printing of 3D CAD models. A cognitive experiment was established to measure 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. The 3D printed model outperformed the 2D drawings and 3D computer interface in productivity measures. This paper’s primary contribution to the body of knowledge is identification of how different mediums of engineering information influence the performance of a simple task execution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)869-877
Number of pages9
JournalCanadian Journal of Civil Engineering
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 13 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014, National Research Council of Canada. All Rights Reserved.


  • Additive manufacturing
  • BIM
  • Construction workforce
  • Labor productivity
  • Visualization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • General Environmental Science


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