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IFC File management and MEP project

IFC File management and MEP project

IFC file management for MEP facilities design: discover all the tips and tricks to manage the IFC file in MEP design

Do you have to design installation systems starting from an architectural model IFC file? Do you want to collaborate with architects and structural engineers through openBIM IFC files?

If you have been shared the IFC file of an architectural and structural project and you have to use it as a basis for your installation project, I’ll show the right tools and all the steps you have to follow.

In particular, I’ll suggest two different ways to proceed:

  • work in 2D, generating plants and sections from the IFC file shared with your CAD software of choice;
  • model installation design in 3D following a fully openBIM process.

In both cases we use integrated usBIM system’s online tools, available from a common browser, without having to install software on your PC.

So, let’s dive right in!

IFC file management: how to design installations from an IFC file

If you’re unfamiliar with IFC files and openBIM processes but need to collaborate with colleagues who already use this methodology, I’ll show you an easy way to work smoothly.

Follow these 3 steps:

  • federate the architectural and structural 3D model to have a single complete model of all the information, using a free and online BIM modeling software for federation;
  • generate plants and sections in DXF/DWG/DWF format directly from the federated model, with an online graphic drawings generation tool;
  • use the resulting graphics to work freely with your CAD software of choice.

BIM model federation

Let’s go step by step and see how to proceed in detail.

How to federate 3D models

To federate the two 3D models with usBIM.federation access the usBIM platform from a device connected to the internet and do the following:

  • log in to usBIM;
  • at the bottom right, click on New Document;
  • create a new folder to insert files into;
  • choose Federation of BIM models from usBIM.browser;
  • write a title and description.
  • Drag the files to be federated on the opening screen;
  • click on Update Federation and then on the reference system symbol to align 3D models;
  • when you have finished changes click on Consolidate.

How to Get 2D Graphics Tables from the 3D Model

After models’ federation you can easily get all the plants and sections you need in DXF/DWG/DWF format, freed of any BIM proprietary software.

To generate 2D graphics directly from the 3D model, we use another online application: usBIM.blueprint.

Here’s how to go about that:

  • open the IFC file on the usBIM platform;
  • from the Menu at the top left, choose Graphic Tables;
  • click on the + symbol and choose whether to add a plant or a section based on the paper size you want to obtain;
  • move the section box to choose where to obtain the desire section on the 3D model;
  • exports the generated output in the DXF/DWG/DW formats by clicking Download, from the tree diagram on the left, at the corresponding output.

Now you are ready to work freely on your 2D files as you have always done, with your software of choice.

IFC file management: how to design installations for a BIM project

If you want to be fully integrated into the openBIM workflow, then you have to operate directly on the federated IFC model adding architectural and structural project information with the information resulting from MEP installation design.

Here’s how to go about that:

  • Federate the architectural and structural model with usBIM.federation (see example above);
  • download the federated IFC model and import it into the BIM MEP systems software;
  • realize your MEP design project using BIM MEP objects;
  • export the file in IFC format and upload it to the usBIM cloud. Then run a new federation to obtain a single unique model (of architectural, structural and MEP design);
  • uses a clash detection software to verify that there is no interference between the models’ different elements.