11 February 2022

3D BIM models

Steven
️ Blog
8 min. reading time

Autodesk offers a collection of APIs that make working with BIM models easier. One of these APIs, Forge, makes it possible to convert dozens of types of BIM models to JSON (JavaScript Object Notation). This format can then be used in software to analyze the models and quickly extract useful information from them. This makes it possible to work more efficiently and to achieve enormous time savings.

BIM models

Autodesk is a technology company known for software to create construction drawings. Architects, engineers and construction professionals, among others, work with it. With their software, such as Autodesk Revit, it is possible to create BIM models, where BIM stands for Building Information Model. This is a three-dimensional digital image of an existing or planned construction, ranging from a building to an entire residential area.

A BIM model differs from a normal 3D model because of the richness of information. A BIM model does not only contain information about shapes and dimensions, but all information needed in architecture from materials to color. Several people, from the supplier of doors to the roofer, can work together on a BIM file.

The models in practice

How the models are used in practice can be made clear on the basis of construction company Nijhuis Supply† They supply frames and doors for construction projects and automate their business process as much as possible.

Nijhuis's workflow is as follows. The contractor supplies a Revit 3D model, for example of a residential area with hundreds of houses. Based on this model, Nijhuis Toelevering calculates the dimensions of each frame and door. This is custom work where each door or window must be measured precisely. Autodesk Forge and the Social Brothers API makes this process more efficient.

Information via Forge and JSON

Autodesk Forge platform provides a set of APIs to convert 3D models to JSON. This conversion of the 3D model via Autodesk Forge leads to two JSON files: a flat list of all objects with the associated information and a hierarchy.

The list shows all data, such as width, height, material, color. The hierarchy of a building plan can be seen as follows: a street consists of houses, which in turn consists of different objects such as doors. The doors can again be divided into smaller objects, such as the jambs and the sills.

The Social Brothers API combines the hierarchy and lists again. As a result, Nijhuis Toelevering knows exactly what is what and the company can extract the information it needs. They can analyze and search that data based on category or object.

For example, Nijhuis quickly has the specifications of all doors in a row. The BIM models of the contractors only need to be uploaded in our software. The APIs do the rest and that is how the final information ends up in the Nijhuis Toelevering configurator. This speeds up the workflow considerably: what used to be three weeks of manual work is now done in about ten minutes.

Benefits

Most of the benefits of BIM models in combination with Autodesk Forge are already apparent from the above example. Due to the automation, there is virtually no need for manual work. This makes it possible to work more efficiently and save costs and time. Everyone has all the information they need together, not only for the construction project itself, but also for any maintenance afterwards. You could also link this information to a maintenance plan.

In addition, the construction industry is increasingly working with the same standard (IFC). This makes it easier to collaborate in 3D files. IFC is supported by most of the BIM community.

In addition, there are also many additional advantages to the outlined workflow. That way software is consistent. If the software recognizes one frame, it will also recognize the other. This way you know without measuring each individual frame in the BIM model which frames exactly match and for which the same order can therefore be placed twice. The method via software is also more accurate because humans make mistakes faster than software.

Cons

However, software is only as good as the people who made it. The software delivers consistent results, but draftsmen who make the BIM models with Revit are not always consistent. For example, it is possible that information is missing for various parts, such as the color of a certain door or the material for a certain frame.

As a result, it may sometimes be necessary to add information manually. The advantage of the outlined method is that it is immediately clear at a glance which information still needs to be retrieved from the customer.

Want to know more?

If you want to know more about new technological developments, sign up for the newsletter or take a look at us complete handbook on Augmented Reality for more information about 3D models.

Are you curious about what BIM models and APIs such as Autodesk Forge can do for your company? take it easy contact and we'll investigate how we can improve your company's workflow too!

Steven Founder[email protected]06-20413957
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