IFC or Industrial Foundation Classes is a 3D file format, used in the Architecture Engineering Construction (AEC) segment. It’s supported in the major software packages like Revit and AutoCAD by Autodesk, Tekla Structures by Tekla or SmartPlant3D by Intergraph. The main value of the IFC is accordance to the Building Information Modeling requirements. BIM is a concept of design, construction and exploitation of the buildings prescribing creation of the large volume of the digital data around architectural objects. This data may include not only 3D geometry, but tons of information pieces like authors, milestones and deadlines, supplier information and so on. Prior to beginning of the construction, the data base is created. It will include all the information, related to the building. Once the process kicks off the project team members will populate the data base with all the aspects of the future building.
STEP or "Standard for the Exchange of Product model data" is also referred as ISO 10303. STEP has been initially designed with the idea to supersede the IGES format (which was the first broadly used vendor-neutral CAD file format). However even today both formats co-exist and data in IGES and STEP represent lion share of all CAD files.
Typically, STEP can be used to exchange data between CAD, CAM, CAE, PDM/enterprise data modeling and other CAx systems. STEP addresses product data from mechanical and electrical design, geometric dimensioning and tolerancing, analysis and manufacturing, as well as additional information specific to various industries such as automotive, aerospace, building construction, ship, oil and gas, process plants and others.
STEP is developed and maintained by the ISO technical committee. There are also various technical groups that define usage conventions and recommended practices to ensure better interoperability between software applications. In CAD world, the most prominent group is www.cax-if.org that unites software vendors and industrial users.
ISO10303 is very extremely large and complex and is structured in multiple layers, for example, from physical file format definition (Part 21) to geometrical/topological definitions (Part 42), up to Application Protocols (AP’s) defining higher-level industry use cases. CAD Exchanger supports AP203, A214 and AP242, which are most commonly used AP's.
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