BIM for the Baffled: Part 4 – What are the different BIM formats?

Building Line Drawing

In this, the next in our series of blog posts about BIM, we look at the different formats of data which can be used in creating the models and why there are different formats.

There are a number of different software packages which can be used for Building Information Models. Although a standardised format is being established, these different packages currently require the objects to have certain levels of data within them, in the correct format, so that they can be input into in all the different modelling packages.

These objects that make up the BIM (like doors, floor insulation etc.) are created from a mix of product data sheets, technical information and geometrical data. All of these are combined to make a BIM object which can then be represented in a virtual environment. This object could be in a number of formats which can be downloaded from a library (such as the nationalbimlibrary.com). The digital model should contain all the details needed to design, construct and maintain a particular building.

Standardised Format

The standardised format is what is known as an open standard. Open standards are important so that the information can be shared amongst a number of programs and different modelling packages can be developed and used. In a similar way that we expect web pages to be readable on different web browsers it is important the data that is stored for modelling purposes can be used across a range of solutions. The IFC (industry foundation class) is an open standardised specification for modelling this type of data and data modelled in this way should be readable across a number of modelling programs. This is especially important when the models need to be combined for purposes such as clash detection, as the architectural model is likely to be done in a different format to the structural engineer’s model, and the services model etc. Combining all these in one programme is essential for ensuring the design will work, and to cut the number of expensive on-site changes that occur in conventional design projects due to the inability to carry out clash detection and detailed modelling.

The Government have specified that currently, as a minimum, data should be available in the COBie format, a simplified, non-geometric subset of IFC, which in its basic format can be presented in a spreadsheet. As it is non-geometric the COBie format doesn’t have drawings or diagrams about the product.

There are also different maturity levels of data that can be used in BIM modelling, the higher the maturity level of the data, the more information is provided about the product’s specifications and consequently the more accurate the model will be in showing the building’s performance

Our BIM Objects

At Kingspan Insulation we have made our products available in the following formats:

  • ArchiCAD
  • Bentley
  • IFC
  • Revit
  • Vectorworks

Apart from IFC the other formats are leading 3D CAD modelling formats specific to the program they support. We chose these formats as they allow our products to be used by as many organisations as possible. You can find our products on our website or on the National BIM library.

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Kingspan Insulation is a market leading manufacturer of optimum, premium and high performance rigid insulation products and insulated systems for building fabric and building services applications.

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