About BIM and IFC

What is BIM?

BIM is an information based system that builds long term value and advances innovation - Finith Jernigan

Building Information Modeling (BIM) was introduced nearly ten years ago to distinguish the information rich architectural 3D modeling from the traditional 2D drawing. BIM is a building design methodology characterized by the creation and use of coordinated, internally consistent computable information about a building project in design and construction.

BIM makes a reliable digital representation of the building available for design decision making, high-quality construction document production, construction planning, and performance predictions, and cost estimates. Having the ability to keep information up-to-date and accessible in an integrated digital environment gives architects, engineers, builders, and owners a clear overall vision of all their projects, as well as the ability to make informed decisions faster.

BIM has been promoted as the solution to reduce waste and inefficiency in building design and construction. However, many organizations have taken a wait-and-see attitude about BIM, looking for evidence for return on investment it entails. Today, it’s hard to peruse a professional journal without reading about BIM, and software vendors and consultants continue to promote it as the answer for improving efficiency of the entire construction industry.

A growing number of early adopters in public and private sectors, including GSA, Disney, and Intel, are starting to explore BIM and pursue integrated delivery approaches. Their common interest is ownership of facilities that extends beyond construction completion.

Customers using BIM will save time and money, see fewer design errors, experience improved productivity, and have access to new business opportunities. BIM is not a technology, but it does require suitable technology to be implemented effectively.


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.

IFC Support

IFC Import and Interoperability with CAD ToolsSolibri Model Checker can import building models from all major BIM software products by using the standardized IFC interface. International Foundation Classes (IFC) is an open, standardized way of storing digital building descriptions. IFC is developed by BuildingSMART (earlier called IAI), and enables effortless exchange of information between various BIM software products. Solibri Model Checker aims to support the latest IFC versions.  Zip-compressed ifc files can imported without extracting them.

IFC ExportSome BIM software products include the IFC export as part of the product, some others are available as separate modules. Below is the list of BIM software with IFC export.

SoftwareVersion with IFC Export
Active 3d
Autodesk ADT
AutoCAD Architecture
Revit Architecture
Revit MEP
Revit Structure
Bentley Architecture
Data Design System (DDS)
Gehry Technologies' Digital Project
Kymdata CADS HEPAC and Electric
NIST CIS/2 to IFC Translator
Onuma Planning System
ProjectWise Navigator
Tekla Structures

IFC Guides

  • ArchiCAD
    • Nemetschek

    • Bentley Buildind (TriForma)
      • TriForma IFC Export dialog box
      • Map Custom TriForma Dataset to IFC Dataset
    • Vectorworks

    Optimization of Large IFC Files

    To make a large IFC file smaller and faster to handle you can optimize it using  Solibri IFC Optimizer.

    More Information About IFC

    • IfcWiki is an open portal for all kind of information around IFC
    • BuildingSMART facilitates the implementation and adaptation of IFC