Import, clean and optimize IFC BIM files in SketchUp

THE Building Information Management (BIM) is revolutionizing the construction sector by making it possible to exchange both 3D and informative data between the different stakeholders in a project. The IFC format (Industry Foundation Classes) is the preferred standard for BIM data exchange. In this article, we will explore in detail how to import, clean and optimize IFC BIM files in SketchUp, the 3D modeling software.

What is BIM and IFC?

BIM is a concept that allows you to create and manage information about a building throughout its life cycle, from its design to its demolition, including its construction and operation. Beyond simple 3D modeling, BIM integrates information on materials, energy performance, costs and many other aspects.

The IFC is an international standard that facilitates the exchange of BIM data between the different software used by architects, engineers, builders and other building professionals. The IFC format allows information to be structured and classified so that everyone can access the same data, regardless of the software used.

Import an IFC file into SketchUp

To import an IFC file into SketchUp, just follow these simple steps:

  1. Go to the “File” menu then click “Import”.
  2. Select the “IFC” format from the list of available formats.
  3. Choose the IFC file to import and click “Import”.

Once the file has been imported, you will be able to access the hierarchical structure of the IFC in the “Structure” tab, which groups the different elements of the project according to their classification (site, building, floor, etc.).

Clean up an IFC file in SketchUp

When you import an IFC file into SketchUp, it is common to end up with unnecessary edges or triangular geometries making it more difficult to manipulate the model. To clean up these elements and facilitate navigation in the project, it is possible to use specific extensions.

The Clean IFC extension

The Clean IFC extension, developed by DBO, is a paid tool (10 euros) which allows you to remove unnecessary edges and simplify the geometry of the model. To use it, simply click on the “Clean IFC” button in the toolbar, then wait a few moments for the process to complete.

The TomTom Clenap extension

TomTom Clenap is another extension for cleaning up edges and triangular geometries from IFC files. However, it can sometimes encounter compatibility issues with the IFC hierarchical structure, in which case the Clean IFC extension will be preferable.

Optimize BIM information management

Clean IFC also provides features to make it easier to manage BIM information in SketchUp. The extension allows you to classify the elements of the model according to their type (columns, doors, stairs, etc.) and to display only the elements of a specific category in one click.

Each BIM element imported into SketchUp can be inspected in detail with a right-click, which provides access to the component options and associated information (thermal resistance coefficient, supplier name, etc.).

A concrete example: the case of a poorly classified roof

Let’s take the example of an IFC file in which a roof has been classified as a floor by mistake. Using the Clean IFC extension, it is possible to detect this classification error and correct the model accordingly. With geometry simplification and BIM information correction, the model becomes easier to manipulate and analyze.

Importing, cleaning and optimizing IFC BIM files in SketchUp allows construction professionals to work more efficiently and better manage the information associated with each element of a project. Extensions such as Clean IFC make this task much easier by removing unnecessary edges, simplifying geometry and improving BIM information management.

Despite the standards and methodologies defined, there are still human errors in the classification of elements and the management of BIM information. However, the tools available in SketchUp make it possible to detect and correct these errors to guarantee quality work and effective collaboration between the different stakeholders in the project.

SketchUp and dedicated BIM extensions, such as Clean IFC, offer powerful solutions for working with IFC BIM files and taking full advantage of the benefits of Building Information Management in the construction industry. So don’t hesitate to use them to optimize your projects and improve your work processes.