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The world of manufacturing and BIM: How did all the research and development behind BIM technology become a software product?

How did all the research and development behind BIM technology converge towards becoming an industry changing process; let’s find out how BIM has become a software product

During the 60s and 70s, various industries (primarily automotive, naval, aerospace) rapidly seized the advantages that could derive from the use of CAD applications, in terms of faster processing and aspects of product re-engineering, to the reduction of design errors and the introduction of automation and robotics in production plants.

In time, after bearing the high costs of hardware and software, each manufacturer began to develop their own CAD applications and develop tools to address more critical industry related issues and by working in close contact with software companies.

On the other hand, the construction sector wasn’t able to see these kind of opportunities and progressively started to rely on straight forward CAD systems (in the second half of the 1970s) essentially used in 2D.

In fact, the use of these new tools was not accepted as an opportunity for innovation and development, but as a mere substitution of traditional tools: drawings made by daftsmen were simply replaced by drawings generated on a computer and printed by plotters.

Another important moment in the evolution of “computer graphics” is by no means the advent of parametric object modeling, placed around the second half of the 80’s.

For graphical objects, the main potential is that physical parameters can be associated together with specific rules that can offer significant advantages for project management as a whole: while in traditional 2D and 3D CAD every aspect of the geometry must be edited by the user, in the case of parametric objects this is done automatically.
These objects are therefore “intelligent” for their ability to automatically update, even as a result of changes made by the designer, to other objects but linked to each other. This results in an automatic propagation of continuously updated changes to the entire virtual model.

This means that BIM allows designers, architects, engineers, etc., to add further information to each object or entity, in fact, thermophysical properties, material costs, mechanical strengths and other important characteristics, can now be added to the project entities to build a 3D information model

This opens the way for a new technology: BIM

The evolution of BIM software

The evolution of BIM software

BIM software on the international and national panorama and their history

Since the mid-1980s, some well-known software companies such as Autodesk (US), Bentley (US), Graphisoft (Hungarian), Nemetschek (German) and others, started to develop their own Products, each with specific features, but all essentially oriented to the graphical representation of a project.

But there’s also a different story in this international panorama, A story marked by ACCA software, an Italian based company born in 1989, that soon distinguished itself for its particular innovative attitude. In 1991, its PriMus software, dedicated to estimates and construction cost management, was the only Italian product to be selected for the “SMAU Industrial Design Award”.

ACCA software started to provide solutions to all aspects of the construction world such as structural engineering, energy performance calculations, accounting, health and safety, fire safety, etc. using the best available technologies.

In 1996, ACCA released TerMus, an energy performance calculations and auditing of buildings, developed with a particular graphic mode: two-dimensional objects representing the real building entities (walls, windows, doors, soles, etc.) are used and are able to recognize each other and update automatically. Each entity has its own thermal and physical characteristics that are useful for managing energy performance assessments. From a conceptual point of view, TerMus can certainly be considered as the first BIM made in Italy.

EdiLus, the BIM for structural calculations, based on three-dimensional parametric objects was released in 2004 and in 2012 it was the turn of Edificius, a BIM for integrated architectural design. In 2016 ACCA software is the first company in Italy to receive the compatibility certification between software for the IFC interoperable format [IFC CV2.0 (Coordination View 2.0)] and issued by BuidingSMARTAlliance.

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