The best CAD software for bim & drafting

Written by brad otto
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The best CAD software for bim & drafting
Building Information Modeling is the next wave of drafting technology. (drafting image by Kimberly Reinick from Fotolia.com)

Many software options are available for drafting and Building Information Modeling (BIM) needs. BIM is the next step in the evolution of drafting technology. Original drafters sketched everything by hand. Then, programs like Autodesk's AutoCAD were developed to increase drafter efficiency. CAD is an acronym for Computer Aided Drafting. BIM came along to address needs that typical CAD programs could not fulfil. With BIM software, structures are modelled in 3D before construction ever starts. All construction trades can access the model to ensure there are no interferences. With BIM, all construction drawings are essentially created from the model, drastically reducing drafting hours.

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Revit Structure

Revit is a product of Autodesk, the same company that makes the popular drafting software, AutoCAD. Revit is available for a free trial from Autodesk's website. It requires 3 gigabytes of RAM and at least 5 GB of free disk space. As with most BIM software, Revit files can be saved in IFC format. IFC stands for Industry Foundation Class. IFC aims to create file types that are transferrable among different BIM software packages.

Tekla Structures

Tekla was established in Finland in 1966. Its BIM software, Tekla Structures, is also IFC-compliant. Tekla claims that its BIM software is useful for steel detailing, precast concrete detailing, reinforced concrete detailing, construction management, and engineering. Tekla Structures is very popular worldwide, as users are found in nearly 100 countries. Tekla Structures is available on different levels, from the full, all-inclusive package down to a package tailored for precast concrete detailing.

Bentley Structural Modeler V8i

Bentley was founded in 1984, and since 1999 it has invested more than £0.6 billion in research, development and acquisitions. Bentley's Structural Modeler V8i is designed for engineers. It is similar to Tekla Structures and Revit Structure in many ways, including its IFC compliancy. The forte of Bentley's Structural Modeler V8i is that it can easily handle even the most complex structural components.

AutoCAD

AutoCAD is a viable alternative to the BIM realm, but odds are BIM technology will render it obsolete. AutoCAD is still very versatile, and its 3D capabilities are extremely useful for many trades, including architects, engineers, builders, and drafters. Although the most advanced AutoCAD program lacks some of the features seen in BIM software, it is very widely known. For short-term needs, it may be the best drafting solution.

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