Sharing the BIM Model: IFC

IFC - Industry Foundation Classes - is a neutral file format that makes it possible to exchange information between different CAD systems and other systems in the building and facility management sectors.

The IFC language interprets the descriptions of 3D building model elements (such as slabs, walls, columns, beams etc.) between various software applications during the design process. In comparison to DXF, which is merely a graphic element format, IFC files also define the full properties of architectural objects, such as their 3D geometrical characteristics, materials and their relationship to other objects.

The IFC format is ISO-certified and can be integrated into any existing quality assurance polices your office may have. IFC is developed in part by the IAI - the International Alliance for Interoperability.


Sharing the BIM Model via IFC

Advantages of Using IFC

The major advantage of using IFC instead of other file formats is that the BIM information is preserved during the data transfer. For example, walls will remain walls, preserving all the previously set 2D and 3D information after the IFC file is opened in another application. Not only does the IFC protocol preserve the full geometric description in 3D, but it also knows object location and relationships, as well as all the properties (or parameters) of each object. The IFC-based collaboration workflow fulfills all the requirements of the reference model concepts used during 3D model-sharing among different design disciplines, and offers several advantages for the architectural design firm:

Access object data for improved design and coordination in ARCHICAD – for example, you can import a building service engineer’s HVAC ductwork or water piping layout as 3D objects.

Export your design for analysis by another specialist– such as a thermal analysis enabling better understanding of your building performance, or advanced visualization.

Export a model for costing, estimation bidding or procurement – the integrated nature of the IFC information makes your database more valuable because your information is easy to access and analyze by such packages as costing applications.

IFC Translators

Importing and exporting model data using IFC takes place according to the settings of the IFC translator you are using. ARCHICAD provides predefined, factory-default translators, but you can define your own custom ones as well. Predefined (but customizable) Translators help you apply IFC model exchange settings as simply as possible, providing “one-click” export/import solutions. IFC Translators are saved in template files. Thus, when you choose a Translator for IFC import or hotlink, you bring the template file with it.


IFC Translation Setup