BIM (Building Information Modeling) is a model-based process that allows architects, engineers, clients, and contractors, to procure, design, build, and manage buildings and infrastructure. BIM combines the digital representation of an asset's physical and functional characteristics.

Autodesk Revit is the primary Autodesk tool for creating BIM data for buildings, while Autodesk Civil 3D is used for large-scale infrastructure projects. However, during the lifecycle of a BIM project, various other tools from different software vendors may be used, highlighting the crucial role of BIM data exchange.

During the design phase, it is possible to follow a native BIM process using a tool such as Autodesk Revit, which offers specialized toolsets for Architecture, Structure, and MEP Design. This process is sometimes referred to as closed BIM, which can be misleading as the system is not truly closed and the data can be exported at any point in time.

In larger projects and complex team structures, using native BIM can be challenging due to various authoring software tools from different vendors used for individual design tasks. In 1996, 12 top companies in the software industry, including Autodesk, came together to establish the Industry Alliance for Interoperability (IAI) to promote integrated collaboration across different software platforms. The consortium's key achievement was the development of Industry Foundation Classes (IFC). In 2005, the IAI was rebranded as buildingSMART.

Today, Autodesk is an active member of the buildingSMART Strategic Advisory Council (SAC), β€œdesigned to appeal to those leading multinational enterprises who believe that full implementation and adoption of open BIM is strategically important to the built environment sector and to their own enterprise and wish to play a strategic role in driving forward its implementation.”

In addition, Autodesk joined the Open Design Alliance (ODA) in 2020 to fast-track Improvements to Interoperability.

Today, IFC is the openBIM standard for data exchange between different applications and workflows in building design, construction, procurement, maintenance, and operations.

Following video by Mark Baldwin offers a comprehensive explanation of openBIM: ▢️ What is openBIM? (by Mark Baldwin)

According to buildingSMART, "IFC is a standardized, digital description of the built environment, including buildings and civil infrastructure. It is an open, international standard, meant to be vendor-neutral, or agnostic, and usable across a wide range of hardware devices, software platforms, and interfaces for many different use cases.”

IFC 2x3 is an ISO standard since 2005 (ISO 16739:2005), and the most recent official version is IFC 4 (ISO 16739-1:2024). BuildingSMART also developed a certification program for software products based on these standards, which serves as a quality check for the IFC implementation.

Due to the complexity of BIM projects, varying requirements for project design delivery, and differing capabilities between software platforms and vendors, it has become essential for engineers and designers to understand the basic principles of open BIM workflows documented in this manual.

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