Supporting of huge IFC files in prototype software by generic INSITER tooling
One of the demands of the INSITER project is the use of real-life data from CAD/BIM models exported as IFC. IFC-models used not only for desktop applications at the office but also for mobile devices on the building site. The sometimes huge files have to be made accessible for different kind of software and for on-site use. One supporting tool is developed within INSITER to reduce the size of the IFC-model by clipping a relevant part. Another tool is developed to combine two IFC-files to allow an integrated view.
In the past 4 years within INSITER many BIM models are developed and used. The different demonstration cases within our project were accompanied with CAD / BIM models exported as IFC.
Each demonstration case contained several use cases covering one or more of the 8 process steps within INSITER. For each process step and for each use case a selection of existing applications, extended tooling and new software developments are available. A description can be found in the improved deliverables for WP3 and WP4 describing the tools and processes based on the work done in WP1. In combination with the textual deliverables a dedicated SharePoint server is setup to host the demonstration cases and their relevant tooling.
As for each research project it is always balancing between exciting new functionality and the capability of supporting real-life data. This was not different within INSITER, large real-life models with gigabytes of IFC files need to be supported not only by selected mature software but also by our new developments and application improvements as developed within INSITER.
As in the early stages of software development the amount of data was just to huge to handle while it is a requirement to use real life data we decided to develop a set of supporting tools. Two of the supporting tools are described over here:
- IFC Clipping, this tool allows to define up to 6 clipping planes orthogonal on the X, Y or Z axis. All geometry on one side of an individual clipping plane is removed (technically disconnected). In case geometry is cut by the clipping plane, the geometry will be recalculated and redefined as Boundary Representation replacing the original geometry
- IFC Merging, this tool allows to merge the geometry of 2 individual IFC files. Many tools are able to load only one IFC file while in real-life construction projects the data for the different disciplines is often divided over several IFC files. This tool allows applications to visualize an integrated view without implementing support for loading several IFC files.
The conversion tools work for all major versions of IFC, i.e. IFC2x3 TC1, IFC4 ADD2 and IFC4x1 Final. As the tools can be applied recursively and in combination it is possible to reduce huge IFC files to the absolutely necessary information as well as integrate several files into one file.