How to automatically convert a PDF plan into a BIM 3D model using artificial intelligence.
PDF is undoubtedly one of the most widely used file formats in the construction industry. It is commonly used to exchange graphics (plans, floor plans, sections, etc.), information, and project reports between professionals, contractors, and clients. You may have encountered situations where you needed to use a PDF plan as a base to “trace” with your CAD software or BIM authoring tool to recreate an editable model.
Now, there is an automatic way to convert PDF graphics into an editable format using artificial intelligence, resulting in precise outcomes in a short amount of time. In this article, I will talk about this process and show you how to convert a PDF plan into an open IFC BIM model. We’ll use an online application to convert 2D drawings into 3D BIM models that can be managed with any BIM authoring software. Let’s see how it’s done!
From a PDF plan to a BIM model using AI
PDF is one of the most commonly used formats. It can be viewed on various devices, but it is primarily designed for document viewing, not editing. Therefore, if you need to work with the information contained in a PDF document, conversion is the only viable solution.
There are different types of conversion you can perform:
- from PDF to CAD;
- from PDF to BIM.
In this article, we will focus on PDF to BIM conversion. We’ll start with a PDF plan and automatically convert it into a 3D BIM model in an open IFC format using artificial intelligence (AI).
PDF to BIM conversion is commonly considered one of the best options, as it represents a true upgrade in the design process. Switching to BIM (Building Information Modeling) entails several advantages for designers, contractors, suppliers, and clients.
Working with open non-proprietary formats (IFC) also ensures additional benefits and simplifies the workflow by facilitating communication and data exchange even among professionals using different software. Therefore, transitioning from a PDF file directly to a BIM model in IFC format promotes a completely openBIM workflow, advantageous for all stakeholders in the construction industry.
When PDF to BIM conversion is beneficial
Converting PDF files into 3D BIM models is extremely useful, especially when dealing with renovation, restoration, or maintenance projects. When working on existing structures, it is essential to start with accurate graphics of the as-built condition. These graphics are often in PDF format and may be simple scans of old paper plans.
In such cases, converting the graphics into digital BIM models is indispensable to ensure proper and efficient management of the construction process.
By converting from PDF to BIM models, you gain numerous advantages that enhance your work:
- Editable 3D models;
- Drawings adaptable to the precision required by the project;
- Completely openBIM workflow;
- 3D models that can be used for rendering, virtual visits, etc.;
- Creation of an informative model containing all data relevant to the project and the entire life cycle of the building;
- Better coordination and collaboration among involved professionals;
- Easier detection and correction of interferences in the project model;
- Identification of design errors in the preliminary phase;
- More competitive work;
- Faster project digitalization;
- And more.
How to convert a PDF plan into a BIM model
If you’re involved in renovation, restoration, or maintenance projects, you need to know how to obtain a 3D model of the building you’re working on from a PDF plan. I’ll show you an automatic process that uses artificial intelligence to create a 3D model in IFC format from a 2D plan in PDF format. This way, you can directly import the 3D model obtained from the conversion into your BIM authoring software (Edificius, Revit, Archicad, etc.) and freely modify it.
To begin, access the usBIM online platform and enter your credentials (email and password). Among the applications in the integrated usBIM system, select usBIM.planAI and follow these steps:
- Click on
Create projectand enter a name and description;
- Create levels corresponding to each floor of the building from the tree diagram on the left;
- Click on
Import planto import the PDF plan for digitization;
- Scale the plan based on a known measurement;
- Set reference parameters (wall height, floor thickness, window sill thickness, etc.);
- Click on
Run automatic detectionand wait for the artificial intelligence to process the final result;
- View the resulting model in 2D or 3D;
- You can modify the model if you notice any errors or want to make changes;
- Assemble the individual plans to create a complete 3D model;
- Export the 3D model in IFC format.
At this point, you can view the 3D model using a simple IFC viewer online or open it with your BIM authoring software (Edificius, Revit, Archicad, etc.) to continue working on it. You can also share the file with professionals using different BIM software and collaborate with them without compatibility issues.
Discover the AI Estimating Software integrated in usBIM.PlanAI