3D modeling involves using software to create a three-dimensional mathematical, digital representation of an object or shape. While the technique might sound simple, 3D modeling offers a powerful tool enabling other tools and processes. 3D modeling began in the 1960s and 1970s but in recent years, thanks to the digital revolution and mass availability of personal computers, businesses have begun to more fully leverage this tool.
So what’s 3D modeling and how is it used in different sectors? In sectors ranging from construction to healthcare, 3D modeling is changing how some industries work and empowering organizations to achieve more with less.
7 industries making use of 3D modeling
3D modeling uses computer graphics to produce 3D digital representations of objects and surfaces. In a software program, the graphic artists manipulate point in virtual space to create a mesh to form the representation of the object or surface. These can be manipulated and changed around to represent real-life objects, to model scenarios, and to visualize different structures or formations. Numerous industries are already using 3D modeling to enhance their projects, and below are some examples.
3D printing is enabling the design and construction of buildings. In Australia, initiatives like BIM-MEP (Building Information Modelling-Mechanical Electrical Plumbing) supports adoption by providing a platform to track building elements for the whole lifecycle of the building. It’s used from start to finish, by designers and constructors to facility managers. BIM tools let developers and builders design and document a building in 3D, and furthermore, as the construction process proceeds, the same platform can be used by others for an integrated service.
Outcomes can include consistent design, documentation, review, adjustment, successful building to specification, better material utilization, reduced failure rates, and cost-effective and efficient maintenance. Businesses in the sector could achieve more in shorter time frames and with lower cost while enabling easy collaboration between teams. Architects and designers are empowered to be more creative and experimental and help clients visualize their designs while identifying possible design issues before construction begins
- Entertainment and gaming
The movies and TV shows of today often make extensive use of 3D modeling to bring to life new worlds and characters, through computer graphic imaging, which 3D modeling technology makes possible. Video games, too, rely on 3D modeling to create realistic-looking fantastical characters and backgrounds.
Advertising and marketing
3D modeling allows advertisers and marketing professionals to showcase their products and customize themes for the audience or medium, whether it’s an online ad or print media. Creating and refining a 3D model might be much cheaper than setting up multiple video shoots, and it can be done cost-effectively to test for audience response before any money is invested in production. The product can be made to look more appealing because variables like natural lighting and color rendering can be better controlled.
Geology and science
3D modeling can be used to support the study of physical forces and physical items. For example, 3D modeling enables geologists and other scientists to create realistic models and study phenomena like landforms and earthquakes. Geological 3D models can be used to study forces like gravity and magnetic forces as well as complex subsurface structures. Research can use them to simulate motion, test stresses, and better understand how different factors can impact these phenomena. In other disciplines, 3D models can be used to study anything from archeological finds to traffic flows for road safety.
Manufacturing and industrial design
3D modeling allows a business to design, conceptualize, and reverse engineer products to enhance design and functionality. 3D modeling combined with 3D printing can further enhance industrial design by shortening the product design cycle and allowing for prototypes to be quickly tested and products to arrive at the market more quickly.
Healthcare is another sector where 3D modeling, often together with 3D printing, has created new possibilities for servicing consumer or patient needs. 3D models can be used to create personalized prosthetics, dental crowns, arch supports, and parts to repair damaged organs. 3D modeling can also create new efficiencies in healthcare, saving patients time.
For example, instead of making multiple dental appointments for fitting, adjustments, and manufacturing, patients can have items like crowns created during a one-hour appointment. 3D modeling could also support improved outcomes from diagnosis to treatment because it provides healthcare practitioners with enhanced body structure imagery.
Publishers of illustrated books, textbooks, and other publications reliant on visual elements are also using 3D modeling to improve their products. 3D models can be used to generate and include imagery that the publishers otherwise can’t get, due to things like copyright and access issues. Additionally, the imagery can facilitate improved education and communication outcomes, since 3D modeling can make more nuanced and detailed images possible, whether it’s things like terrain, flora, fauna, a visualization of a historical timeline, or something else.
The future for industries enabled by 3D modeling
3D modeling has already revolutionized processes in a variety of industries, but it’s likely to have an even bigger impact in the coming years. In the area of fast-moving consumer goods, 3D modeling and 3D printing could completely change how consumers receive their products, by making the print on demand at home a reality. 3D modeling can make city planning more efficient, support the printing of individualized organs in healthcare, and enable augmented reality to gain a foothold in mainstream mass entertainment.
3D modeling and augmented reality could change how education is delivered and even create mixed-reality spaces to enhance the retail experience. The possibilities of 3D-modelling applications are endless, and for industries and businesses willing to experiment, the potential benefits could be limitless as well.