Import, clean and optimize IFC BIM files in SketchUp

The Building Information Management (BIM) is revolutionizing the construction sector by enabling the exchange of both 3D and informative data between the various players involved in a project. The IFC format (Industry Foundation Classes) is the preferred standard for BIM data exchange. In this article, we'll explore in detail how to import, clean and optimize BIM IFC files in SketchUp, the 3D modeling software.

What are BIM and IFC?

BIM is a concept that makes it possible to create and manage information about a building throughout its lifecycle, from design to construction, operation and demolition. Beyond simple 3D modeling, BIM integrates information on materials, energy performance, costs and many other aspects.

IFC is an international standard that facilitates the exchange of BIM data between the various software packages used by architects, engineersand other building professionals. The IFC format makes it possible to structure and classify information so that everyone can access the same data, whatever software they use.

Importing 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 on "Import".
  2. Select the "IFC" format from the list of available formats.
  3. Select the IFC file you wish to import and click on "Import".
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Once the file has been imported, you can 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.).

Cleaning an IFC file in SketchUp

When importing an IFC file into SketchUp, it's not uncommon to end up with unnecessary edges or triangular geometries that make model manipulation more complex. Specific extensions can be used to clean up these elements and facilitate project navigation.

Clean IFC extension

The Clean IFC extension, developed by DBO, is a paid-for tool (10 euros) which removes unnecessary edges and simplifies model geometry. To use it, simply click on the "Clean IFC" button in the toolbar, then wait a few moments for the process to run.

TomTom Clenap extension

TomTom Clenap is another extension for cleaning edges and triangular geometries from IFC files. However, it can sometimes run into compatibility problems with IFC's hierarchical structure, in which case the Clean IFC extension is preferable.

Optimizing BIM information management

Clean IFC also offers features to facilitate the management of BIM information in SketchUp. In particular, the extension lets you classify model elements by type (columns, doors, stairs, etc.) and display only those elements in a specific category with a single click.

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

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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 soil by mistake. Using the Clean IFC extension, it is possible to detect this classification error and correct the model accordingly. By simplifying the geometry and correcting the BIM information, the model becomes easier to handle and analyze.

Importing, cleaning and optimizing BIM IFC files in SketchUp enables building 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 the management of BIM information.

Despite defined standards and methodologies, there are still human errors in the classification of elements and the management of BIM information. Nevertheless, the tools available in SketchUp enable these errors to be detected and corrected, guaranteeing quality work and efficient collaboration between the various project participants.

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

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