Import/Export Settings

Importing and exporting model data using IFC takes place according to the settings of the translator you are using. ARCHICAD provides predefined, factory-default IFC Translators, but you can define your own. IFC Translation Setup command (File > Interoperability > IFC) allows you to view or modify translator settings, or to create new translators. The following is a description of the settings found in the IFC Translation Setup dialog box:
Note: A translator that is locked cannot be modified; the settings described below cannot be changed in this case. However, if you duplicate a locked translator, you can change its settings.
Modifications to translator settings take effect when you click Save Settings & Close. Each translator is stored in an .xml file; these files can be exchanged among ARCHICAD users, and imported into ARCHICAD projects using the “Browse” option. The “Location” field under the translator list shows the path of the selected translator’s .xml file.
Use Delete to remove a translator you don’t need from this list.
Building Elements: IFC elements whose supertype is IfcBuilding (IfcWall, IfcColumn, IfcBeam, etc.) can be imported as editable ARCHICAD elements (“Construction elements”: Wall, Column, Beam, etc.), or as Morphs or as Objects. Of course, even if you choose the “Construction element” option, not all elements can be imported in this form (such as non-extruded (BREP geometry) elements, or those elements having no counterpart in ARCHICAD): for such elements, you can choose to convert them as either an editable Morph or an Object (“otherwise Objects/otherwise Morphs”). The advantage of converting the imported elements to AC tool-based construction elements is that they remain parametric, and ARCHICAD functions (such as automatic intersections) will apply to them. By choosing to convert elements to Morphs or Objects, you will guarantee perfect geometry import. The resulting Morphs will be editable, while the resulting Objects will be Library Parts, whose subtype will match the IFC entity type: for example, an IfcColumn converted to an ARCHICAD Object will have the subtype “Column”.
Distribution elements: When importing elements whose domain is MEP (IfcDistributionElement), you have three options: generate an object, or generate an editable Morph (as described above); or, if GRAPHISOFT MEP Modeler Add-On has been installed, then you can generate parametric MEP elements. Even if you choose this latter option, however, the MEP IFC model might not contain sufficient data to generate the parameters, in which case non-parametric MEP Equipment elements will be generated, or – in case of limited data – Objects will be generated.
Other elements: Elements that are neither building elements nor distribution elements (such as furnishing and transportation elements) can be converted to editable Morphs, or to Objects.
IFC Site geometry: Check this box if you want to include the geometry of the imported IfcSite. (The option to include or exclude this geometry is available only here, and cannot be set in the Model Filter dialog box.) If you opt to include the IFC Site geometry, then you can further decide whether the converted element should be an editable Morph or an Object. (IfcSite geometry cannot be converted to an ARCHICAD Mesh.)
“Keep original layers” means that ARCHICAD will create new layers that correspond to the original layer names (IfcPresentationLayerAssignment) of the IFC model, and will place the imported elements onto these layers.
“Keep original layers and add extension”: This will create new ARCHICAD layers corresponding to the original layers of the IFC model, but will add a custom extension (such as “Structural Model”) to each of these layer names. The advantage is that, following the file import, you will be able to sort the layers by extension in ARCHICAD’s Layer Settings dialog box.
“Place elements on one layer”: This means that the imported elements will be placed onto a newly created, single layer that you define (such as the “IFC Import” layer). In this case, the import will delete the original layer names of the IFC model.
If the elements have been converted to their counterpart ARCHICAD tool-based construction elements (that is, they have not been converted to Objects or Morphs; see Geometry Conversion above), then elements on identical layers might have their geometries modified due to automatic intersections. If you want to avoid this, set the intersection group number to 0.
Note: For IFC elements, color is assigned in one of two ways: to its material or to its geometry. Color assigned to material is handled by the “Material import method for IFC Materials” option and by the material mapping rules; color assigned to geometry is handled by the “Generate Surface Attributes from IFC geometry Surface overrides” option.
Use Material Mapping: Check the Use material mapping box to assign a mapping rule to either of these import methods.
Example: You can assign ARCHICAD’s “Concrete Structural” Building Material to all concrete materials entitled “C20” that are imported from a structural IFC model:
If the “Use material mapping” option is inactive, then only the “Building Material for non-mapped materials” setting will take effect:
Note: If there are selected elements in the project when you start the export, this control automatically changes to “Selected elements only”, regardless of the translator’s default setting.
Note: Depending on the MVD you choose, some of the following “Geometry representation” and “Derived model data to export” will not be modifiable. For example, if you are using “Coordination View (Surface Geometry)”, the geometry representation of every element is required to be BREP. Another example: the “Concept Design BIM 2010” MVD requires the export of IFC Type Product element geometries, while the “Coordination View” does not allow this.
Use BREP geometry in current color for all elements: If you would like to export all model elements with their precise but non-parametric geometry (i.e. boundary representation), activate this option. This option also sets BREP geometry representation for all complex elements, elements in Solid Element Operations, elements in junctions, etc. (see later). This option also ensures that element bodies will be exported in color displayed in the current exporter view, so body colors defined by Criteria-based Visualization (link), Renovation Status (link), Revision Status (link) and Mark-Up Style (Correction or Highlight color) can be shared with other consultants/applications via IFC exports.
Triangulate surfaces of BREPs (available only in IFC4 standard code): With this option, the BREP geometry is saved as triangulated surfaces – an option preferred by some model visualization applications when importing IFC files. This option produces a compact geometrical description, which might reduce file size.
Explode Composite and Complex Profile elements into parts: This will save composite elements (e.g. Slab or Wall) and Complex Profiles (e.g. Column, Wall, Beam) as so-called “Building Element Parts”. This means that the main element (e.g. IfcWall) will be saved as a container element without geometry, and its parts (the skins or profile components) will provide the geometry. Use this option to ensure the correct export of the individual colors assigned to the Building Materials of each component. This export option retains the original colors of all building parts, instead of exporting them in all one color.
Export geometries that “Participates in Collision Detection” only: For each Building Material, you can define whether it should participate in participate in collision detection or not (Options > Element Attributes > Building Materials > Categories and Properties). With this export option, you can export composite elements/complex profiles that don’t have solid geometries as real air gaps. This way, for example, MEP engineers (who receive the ARCHICAD IFC file) can place pipes in the gaps without collision detection, and only those element parts having real geometry will participate in collision detection in model-checkers and in GRAPHISOFT MEP Modeler.
Multi-skin complex geometries: This option will affect multi-skin (Composite or Complex Profile) ARCHICAD elements having complex (e.g. slanted) geometry representation.
Building element parts: An element (e.g. Wall) is logically made into an IFC element (e.g. IfcWall) that includes building element parts. The advantage of this option is that each building element is assigned the IFC material or profile that is represented by its Building Material (Cut Fill) in ARCHICAD.
Complex profiles: An element is logically made into an IFC element, to which a profile geometry or material list will be assigned, in the form of an IFC material. (The receiving application will not know the precise order of the different components/skins.)
Note: This option is affected by the “Partial Structure Display” (Document menu) currently in effect, if the view’s visible elements are being exported. For example, if the “Core Only” Partial Structure Display is in effect, then the “Complex profiles” option will have no effect on a slanted composite wall that has a single core, because in this case the wall will not count as a composite element.
Extruded/revolved: This is the standard IFC geometry representation, which retains the elements’ parameter values (such as thickness, height, location of reference line or edge, skin structure of composite materials) – however, certain specialized sections are not retained. This is the format usually supported by static analysis programs, because while it is important to retain and possibly to modify the elements’ parameters, their special cut angles (such as the slanted edge of a slab) are not important.
BREP: This method comes closest to reproducing the shape of the element, together with its specialized sections and connections. However, the element’s parameters are lost, and BREP (Boundary Representation) elements from an imported IFC file are transformed into non-editable elements. Since this method provides the most exact reproduction of element geometry, it is useful in the “reference model” workflow.
If you prefer the extruded/revolved geometry, you can export the elements without junctions – that is, without the priority-based intersections. In this case, the export process is faster. This option is recommended for structural analysis programs, for which the elements’ reference lines/surface information is sufficient, and detailed intersections are not required.
Slabs with slanted edge(s): With the extruded method, slabs will be exported with vertical edges, even though their original geometry included a slanted edge. With the BREP method, such slabs will be exported using their correct original geometric representation.
Use legacy geometric methods as in Coordination View 1.0: Use this option if you have created your own, custom MVD that is based on the geometry methods of Coordination View version 1.0.
IFC Site geometry: In ARCHICAD, the IfcSite geometry can be created with Mesh elements, with Objects with subtype “Ifc2x_Site” and any modeling element (e.g. Slab, Morph) classified (Element Classification) as “Site Geometry”. Depending on whether these elements are visible/selected in the view from which you begin the export, and depending on your choices at “Export” options, these elements will be exported. Use the drop-down list to apply a geometric representation to these elements in the IFC model.
BREP: Geometric representation as solid bodies enclosed by their superficies and boundary surfaces. BREP is a simple form of boundary representation model in which all faces are planar and all edges are straight lines.
Face-based surface (top surface): Geometric representation of the superficies (top surface) only.
Geometric set (wireframe): Geometric representation with contours and points.
Note: ARCHICAD is able to import all three kinds of IFC site geometry representations.
IFC Site location (if Survey Point is available): It is recommended to use a common anchor/reference point to facilitate coordination of models from different programs (e.g. when connecting models submitted by different professionals). In some countries, use of a particular reference point (national datum) is a standard requirement when defining the project. To define this reference point, use the Survey Point object in ARCHICAD.
The position and rotation of the Survey Point defines the global coordinate system (X=0, Y=0, Z=0) of the IFC model. When defining this point position, it is recommended to consider the True North direction (use the default “Follow Project North” parameter). At IFC export, this parameter defines the direction of the Y axis in the global coordinate system.
At Project Origin: The IFC Site entity is located at the Project Origin. Use this option if you are working close to the ARCHICAD Project Origin, yet still wish to define model coordinates relative to a national datum (using the Survey Point). This way, a far offset is stored in the IFC file not as part of the element coordinates but rather generally. See the following illustration:
At Survey Point position: The IFC Site entity is located at the position of the Survey Point. Use this if you are working at a long distance from the Project Origin, yet you don’t want large offsets to be present in the IFC file (usually with legacy models). See the following illustration:
Element Properties: This option exports all ARCHICAD Properties assigned to model elements and Zones (defined by Property Manager (Options menu)) as same name IFC Properties and grouped in property sets having the name of the container Property Groups.
Element Parameters: This option exports all or only the property-type (“IFC Properties only” option) or only the quantity-type (“IFC Quantities only” option) ARCHICAD Parameters (including Library Part and Schedule Parameters). The exported IFC Properties will keep their source Parameter name and be grouped in Property Sets having the name “ARCHICAD Properties” or “(LibraryPartName) Properties”; and the exported IFC Quantities will keep their source Parameter name and be grouped in Property Sets having the name “ARCHICAD Quantities” or “(LibraryPartName) Quantities”. This option can be useful when exchanging data with programs that can read such data. For example, quantity takeoffs can read quantities; a model viewer/checker can read both properties and quantities.
Note: Choosing this option will significantly increase the IFC file size. Thus, use it only if you know that the target application can read these data.
IFC Base Quantities: (size, area and volume): Check this box to add Quantity Takeoff parameters to Wall (IfcWall), Column (IfcColumn), Beam (IfcBeam), Slab (IfcSlab, predefined type Floor), Roof (IfcSlab, predefined type Roof) and Zone (IfcSlab) elements to the IFC model. This data is useful in the interoperability with cost estimation applications.
For example, the following quantities (IfcElementQuantity) can be exported together with IfcWall element: Length; Height; Gross Volume; Net Volume (volume reduced e.g. by columns embedded into the wall); Gross Footprint Area (doors are not considered); Net Footprint Area (area reduced by door footings); Gross Side Area (openings are not considered); Net Side Area (area reduced by openings).
The following table summarizes the base quantities by entity types automatically calculated and exported when using this derived data export option. The values of IfcSite’s base quantities can be set manually at Info > Project Info (Site Gross Perimeter and Site Gross Area).
Window/Door Lining and Panel Parameters: Check this option if you want to export the entities listed as IfcWindowStyle and IfcDoorStyle on the IFC Manager’s “Type Products”
IFC Space Containment: Space containment defines the relationship between ARCHICAD Zones (IfcSpaces) and Furnishing, Mechanical (HVAC) and other contained elements defined by Object, Lamp and Morph tools within the space. Check this box if you would like to send the model to a facility management application.
Note: Object, Lamp and Morph elements will be in space containment only if the center of these elements’ bounding box falls within the ARCHICAD Zone.
IFC Space Boundaries: ARCHICAD Zones include precise geometry data that are useful to thermal calculation software applications. Zones are 3D solids in geometrical aspect and in normal cases are bordered by two slabs and four walls. Space boundaries define the logical connection between ARCHICAD Zones (IfcSpace) and the building elements that enclose them. In practice, Walls, Slabs, Roofs, Windows, Doors etc. all have different thermal conductivity properties. If you activate the “IFC Space boundaries” option, ARCHICAD will export Space boundaries and their relations (IfcRelSpaceBoundary) together with the Zones (IfcSpace) to the IFC file. In other words, ARCHICAD will calculate the position, size and adjacency of the elements that border each Zone. ARCHICAD divides the Zone boundaries according to the areas defined and cut by connected elements and openings.
Zone Categories as IFC Space Classification Reference: Check this box to export the Zone Categories data (Code and Name) of ARCHICAD Zones as their (IfcSpace) IFC Classification Reference data (ItemReference and Name).
Bounding Box: Check this box if you would like to export the dimensions of the building elements’ bounding box.
Geometry of IFC Type Products: Use this to save the geometry of the various IFC Type Product elements. Each type (e.g. IfcFurnishingElementType) will use a representative geometry of the elements that belong to it (e.g. IfcFurnishingElement).
Note: When doing an import, the imported elements and data are always displayed using ARCHICAD’s model unit preference (Options > Project Preferences).
Note: The IFC Global Unique Identifier attribute (GlobalId) settings option has no effect on the Merge to IFC Model export process.
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