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the importance of IFC format in BIM processes

BIM: the importance of the IFC Open file format

The importance of the IFC Open file format in BIM processes to promote freedom of collaboration and data exchange between design disciplines.

For those who work in BIM the most important aspect is to guarantee full freedom of data sharing, ie working in a fully open workflow.

There are many ways in which data can be managed in a BIM workflow. As a result, you can use numerous, and different, file formats.

Proprietary file formats can only be read by the software that created them or maybe imported with other compatible software solutions. Of course, in a BIM collaboration process, using proprietary formats means that interoperability can only be ensured if everyone uses the same software technology, capable of opening and exporting files in formats that are compatible with all team member’s software technology, but in reality, that’s never the case because nearly every design or construction management firm have different software and available in different versions.

When working with specialized design software that has proprietary data formats, there are several options that professionals can coordinate between different packages:

  • use the main BIM authoring software to edit or revise certain parts of a model;
  • the model designed with all its properties can be transferred to the BIM creation software, if there is a common file format for transferring between different software.
  • send it to the BIM authoring software after converting the file to IFC format.

File formats that are not proprietary are independent of the seller. This means that they can be read and modified by any type of software. Often these are open source, with an international collaboration for their development, and in this scenario the most common and open data file format, is the IFC (Industry Foundation Classes).


IFC is born with the mission to guarantee data exchange, whatever the software used: its purpose is to describe the data of the building and construction industry, not controlled by a single supplier or group of suppliers. A revolutionary approach to ensure BIM management freedom with an open format developed by buildingSMART.


For example, IFC files could include photometric information for lighting fixtures/lamps and the type of installation of a luminaire; so the data required for the building is available within the general planning process. The IFC file format allows data to be exchanged between different BIM software applications.

The development of the IFC standard extends the openBIM® approach to new disciplines, for an ever-greater collaboration on projects.

OpenBIM is a universal approach to collaborative design, construction and operation of buildings based on open standards and workflows. OpenBIM therefore facilitates a transparent and open workflow that allows all project actors to participate in a fully coordinated workflow and regardless of the software used. OpenBIM allows you to work together, it has the ability to transfer information, making the processes in the construction industry more transparent between all role players.

usBIM.viewer+ the free BIM software in IFC format

ACCA software has always been in favor of an open approach to help the construction sector, supporting the true availability of data and the full freedom of collaboration in BIM processes: the N°1 IFC – OpenBIM expert.

IFC-Open BIM means freedom to communicate, share and collaborate: the IFC-Open BIM standard favours communication freedom between all stakeholders working on the construction project’s digital model throughout its life cycle, from design to execution, from maintenance through to disposal of the asset.

The IFC-Open BIM also allows unlimited free access to data, regardless of the software or the version of the software that produced the original models or information.

In this context the IFC viewer (usBIM.viewer+), a free software to view and modify BIM models in IFC format, becomes an important game changer in the industry and is much more than a simple IFC viewer: usBIM.viewer+ is in fact the first free IFC viewer/converter that allows you to work in complete freedom on a BIM model in the IFC format. In addition, it allows BIM operators to:

  • open and view BIM files in IFC format
  • edit and modify the BIM model in IFC format
  • convert other 3D model formats to IFC files (DWG, SKP, 3DS, etc.)
  • share projects in the cloud.


usBIM.viewer+ completely changes the potential use of the IFC based BIM model formats. The IFC file format not only becomes a guarantee of access to data over time regardless of the software with which the model was originally produced, but also the format in which to freely manage the information during the construction and maintenance phases of the building asset.