IFC and BIM
IFC (Industry Foundation Classes) is known by most professionals simply as a data model developed by the buildingSMART (earlier called IAI) to facilitate interoperability in the building industry.
Benefits of BIM will materialize only through sharing information across organizations, departments, IT systems and databases. IFC standard is the key to facilitating this cost-effectively and without becoming dependent on product or vendor specific file formats. Major CAD vendors have participated in developing IFC, and their products support it. (IFC Support of Solibri and CAD vendors )
The IFC system is a data representation standard and file format used to define architectural and construction-related CAD graphic data as 3D real-world objects. Its main purpose is to provide architects and engineers with the ability to exchange data between CAD tools, cost estimation systems and other construction-related applications. IFC provides a set of definitions for all object element types encountered in the building industry and a text-based structure for storing those definitions in a data file.
IFC uses a plain text file, the only truly universal computer data format. Individual CAD developers store data in product-specific binary file format that best suits their system. The developers provide “Save As IFC” and “Import IFC” commands, which map the IFC object definitions to their CAD system's representations of these objects.
Modern BIM systems are able to create rich internal representations on building components. IFC adds a common language for transferring that information between different BIM applications while maintaining the meaning of different pieces of information in the transfer. This reduces the need of remodeling the same building in each different application. It also adds transparency to the process. For example, quantities and be taken off any time during the course of the design and cost can be estimated to see how recent changes have effected the budget.