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A Case Study of Applying Virtual Prototyping in Construction

Authors: Stephen C. W. Kong


The use of 3D computer-aided design (CAD) models to support construction project planning has been increasing in the previous year. 3D CAD models reveal more planning ideas by visually showing the construction site environment in different stages of the construction process. Using 3D CAD models together with scheduling software to prepare construction plan can identify errors in process sequence and spatial arrangement, which is vital to the success of a construction project. A number of 4D (3D plus time) CAD tools has been developed and utilized in different construction projects due to the awareness of their importance. Virtual prototyping extends the idea of 4D CAD by integrating more features for simulating real construction process. Virtual prototyping originates from the manufacturing industry where production of products such as cars and airplanes are virtually simulated in computer before they are built in the factory. Virtual prototyping integrates 3D CAD, simulation engine, analysis tools (like structural analysis and collision detection), and knowledgebase to streamline the whole product design and production process. In this paper, we present the application of a virtual prototyping software which has been used in a few construction projects in Hong Kong to support construction project planning. Specifically, the paper presents an implementation of virtual prototyping in a residential building project in Hong Kong. The applicability, difficulties and benefits of construction virtual prototyping are examined based on this project.

Keywords: construction project planning, prefabrication, simulation, virtual prototyping.

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