Acrobat and Building Information Modelling (BIM)

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It's been a while since I spent much time looking at Acrobat with reference to the AEC world...

One of the major announcements for Acrobat 9 that I didn't pick up on straight away was the support of the IFC file format in Acrobat Pro Extended (You'll recall, this is the replacement for Acrobat 3D). This is significant as it supports Building Information Modeling workflow's. This features allows you to share your 3D models via a pdf document and have full visualization and now object property data associated to the model. This allows us to develop functionality that will be supported by multiple 3D CAD applications on the market today. The IFC files formats that we are supporting are the IFC2x3 and IFC2x2.

IFC is an open standard data model where building information can be represented and shared between various processes and professions. It is a very dynamic, flexible model, and can be used from from early planning stages to a complete and very detailed model of the built environment.

So how does it work?

All you need access to is the IFC file. You do not have to have the native 3D CAD application installed on your computer. Just simply open Acrobat Pro Extended and drag and drop the IFC file into the open window. This will convert your model to pdf.

I can then zoom into an object and select that object and turn on my Model Tree (File - Navigation Panels - Model Tree). The result is now I can see all the IFC information associated to that particular object as shown below.


(Thanks to my colleague Jonathan Bowman for the image, check out his excellent blog, he is the Adobe Acrobat AEC Guru!)

So, you can see that's pretty straightforward The value of Acrobat Pro Extended is that it goes way beyond simple visualization. A lot of people want to compare us to current 3D viewers on the market. The value is that I am now able to access and utilise 89% of the worlds desktops as anyone with the Free Adobe Reader can also view, navigate and see the IFC information.

Of course, PDF is also a format that people are comfortable using, so one minute they're opening a PDF created from a Word document, the next it's a 3D file containing BIM information, easy peasy. No barriers to adoption!

Of course, we can also use all the other rich Acrobat functionality with the 3D model such as being able to combine this model with other documents, review and comment, collaborate, etc.

1 Comment

This looks like a good first step to true BIM and I see direct benefit to the GC out of the box - Also looks good for MEP clash checking. Many times 3rd parties ask for the model (very scary), but this makes that possible in a secure fashion. This is way cool!

I'm still waiting for the day that IFC import/export actually works between modeling software like Tekla or Revit. That will be a happy day - intelligence in all objects imported or not.

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