How to open an IFC file, view and edit its properties

Here’s how to open an IFC file, view its properties and edit it in just 4 steps

If you’re facing the very common problem of needing to open an IFC file but don’t know where to start, well here’s an easy to use tool and alongside that, it’s also free! In this article we’ll be taking a look at how to open IFC files, view them in 3D, edit their geometry and properties in a very simple and intuitive manner using usBIM.viewer+, a widely approved freeware solution among the BIM community, and that even has IFC certification by buildingSMART International.

Together with some very neat and easy to read illustrations, we’ve also prepared a step-by-step video that shows the very straight-forward process of working with IFC files.

Opening an IFC file

These are the basic steps that lead to opening and viewing an IFC file using usBIM.viewer+:

  1. download usBIM.viewer+ for free and run the setup;
  2. once installed, simply launch the software and click on the “Create document from IFC” button;
  3. browse to your folder and select the IFC file to open
  4. now view the 3D model together with its entities and relating properties.

If you are looking for an EDF viewer, a Revit file viewer, an OBJ viewer, or an IFC viewer online, you can use usBIM for free.

Editing IFC model properties

One of the most powerful features of usBIM.viewer+ isn’t just the fact that it has a high-performance 3D viewing environment, but that it also allows the user to interact with the IFC model and modify entity properties and add customized datasets.

Here’s a typical workflow:

  • click on the “Edit IFC” command on the toolbar, then “Edit” and select the entity or entities to be modified
  • select the entities and identify the relating properties to change
  • select “Edit” in the “Properties” toolbar
  • change the properties in the dialog box

Open and Edit IFC files | Graphical illustration

This illustration summarises the 5 basic steps to open and edit an IFC file as described above.

inphographics IFC file

Infographics | open and edit an IFC file and its properties in 5 steps

Open and Edit IFC files | Video

This short video explains the same procedure to open and edit IFC files in great simplicity in just a few minutes:

But why should we use the IFC format for editing?

As mentioned in our previous posts, the IFC format is an open data format that simplifies interoperability between different BIM authoring software. Therefore, you may be dealing with a 3D model which is packed with information, written by different software solutions, all of which can be used in different ways by different BIM-oriented applications.

This assumption brings us back to our initial question.

The main advantage of using the IFC standard format is that it helps save a tremendous amount of time because with just a few steps, we can make all the necessary changes and avoid intermediate file manipulation and data conversions.

Besides that, the fact that IFC is an Open format, we have the additional value of interoperability enabling everyone to collaborate in a simplified workflow with greater reliability of data, flexibility and freedom considering that the user is completely independent of the software developer or version that generated the file. This aspect becomes very important when accessing model datasets saved several years before and without having to deal with the risks of model alteration or data losses.

This becomes a crucial aspect that underlines the importance of always being able to access the building asset’s project information or construction process and maintenance history and can only be guaranteed when using software solutions that support this type of format; which is exactly whyusBIM.viewer+, is the “Must have” tool for everyone involved in BIM.

To summarise, it allows the user to:

  • import the IFC file of the BIM model originating from any other AEC software or tool capable of exporting in such format;
  • edit the IFC file by modifying objects, deleting entities or adding properties to existing entities;
  • export the IFC file after applying the changes and share it for FREE on the usBIM.platform CDE (Common Data Environment) which is fully accessible from the software.

If you want to read more about IFC and BIM, don’t forget to check our upcoming articles!