The 1001 qualities of the IFC format in BIM procedures

The IFC format is a feature of modern BIM design. We can say that the IFC format is a real key aspect of BIM design – its interoperability – is put to the test when multiple designers work with files of different formats and must exchange information quickly and accurately. After all, what should you do if Revit doesn’t read .pnl files or Archicad doesn’t read .prj files or Solibri doesn’t handle .nwd files well?

What is the IFC format?

Developed by BuildingSMART International, IFC formats are a key part of OpenBIM practice. BuildingSMART provides a list of certified IFC applications. There, users can check if the software used in their projects supports an OpenBIM stream and if the stream itself is compatible with this process. Sometimes they can even foresee future obstacles and already foresee a solution.


History of the IFC format

The first version of the IFC format was created in 1996, with IFC 1.0 coming to the market to bring a neutral model to the AEC sector. There have been several updates over the years. In October 2000, the oldest version still in use, IFC 2x, was released, focusing on increasing the stability of the platform and information. A version came out shortly after that made IFC certifications possible and the following updates were the expansion of the extension’s capabilities and compatibility.

The most popular version of the IFC format is the 2 × 3, from 2007, which presented numerous improvements in terms of performance and quality, as well as bug fixes over previous versions

The latest version of the IFC format is IFC 4.0 (initially known as IFC 2 × 4), released in 2013. It brought with it new forms of documentation, as well as support for new platforms, structures, and construction services. The most recent version of IFC 4.0 is Addendum 2, released in July 2016, made improvements and fixes.

IFC format

What are the main uses of IFC formats?

Currently, the main uses of the IFC format are project compatibility and planning of construction execution phases. Many designers use this solution when working with different software. For example, architects using solutions such as AECOsim or Archicad and engineers using Revit or DDS-Cad can benefit from using the IFC format.

Difficulty in using IFC formats

Exporting an IFC from modeling software such as Revit to import it into other software such as Archicad can cause loss of model information. It is recommended to be very careful when performing these operations so that no data is lost in the process. Loss of information in CAD workflows seems to resurface when it comes to the IFC format, which makes disclosure difficult. If we follow the BIM methodology, it becomes clear that IFC can be extremely useful if we know its limitations. To this end, tests must be performed to ensure that the IFC format can be used in each specific case.

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