What’s new in openBIM and Infrastructure: IFC 4.3 for Civil 3D


The extension IFC 4.3 for Civil 3D 2024 allows civil engineers and designers to share data and context for open project delivery and localization.

For architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) firms working with complex data, software interoperability is a game-changer.

Open data formats like IFC allow data to be transferred accurately across different software platforms, streamlining design and engineering workflows. 

Autodesk has a long-standing commitment to interoperability and open standards, aligning its products such as Revit and Civil 3D with IFC updates soon after these are launched. 

In 1994, it launched the Industry for Interoperability Alliance, which eventually became the global organization buildingSMART, in which Autodesk remains actively involved. buildingSMART has been instrumental in extending the benefits of digital building modelling (BIM) by setting the openBIM standard for open data exchange.

[Image: Autodesk provides support buildingSMART across different solutions.]

IFC 4.3 for Civil 3D: Progressing open data exchange

Open data exchange helps protect the longevity of infrastructure models for long-running projects, such as upgrading roads, railways, and power grids.

IFC is a critical aspect of open data exchange, used widely throughout urban building development. 

However, though the IFC data format has come into use for infrastructure modeling in recent years, there has not been a standard for how objects are defined. IFC 4.3 addresses this by defining a clear framework for how railways, roads and highways, and to some extent waterways, are defined, categorized, classed and modeled. 

The IFC 4.3 plug-in for Civil 3D introduces support for exporting and importing AutoCAD objects and major Civil 3D objects, including corridors, bridges, as well as pressure and gravity pipe networks.

Alongside new features brought by Civil 3D 2023 and 2024 updates, this will significantly streamline infrastructure design and digital modeling.

[Image: Result of viewing an export from the IFC 4.3 plugin for Civil 3D 2024 in the Open IFC Viewer showing support for lines, surfaces, alignments, corridors, bridges, pressures and gravity pipe networks and more.]

Higher accuracy for open digital project deliverables

Importantly, the IFC 4.3 format addresses accuracy issues at the heart of interoperability in civil engineering. 

Infrastructure models often involve numbers with six or seven digits before the decimal place, and rounding errors between different programs can significantly reduce data accuracy. The IFC 4.3 format enables far more accurate geometric models with better support for consistently designed coordinate systems.

This is the most significant change in infrastructure design deliverables since the development of PDF, enabling seamless transfer of a true 3D model between different software and allowing users to design directly from the model.

With IFC 4.3, programs can better support automated workflows, augmented design, and collaboration across project teams. 

For example, a railway track corridor designed on Civil 3D can be seamlessly transferred to a second design tool to do signaling design or overhead electrification. The same model can be passed onto analysis software — be it for construction phasing, quantity take-off, or earthworks — without the redesigning work that different teams typically need to get data into a format they can read.

Find out how the Advanced Electrical Design workflow transforms Revit for electrical engineers.

Developed for the infrastructure community

Many of the features in IFC 4.3 for Civil 3D are the result of customer feedback from alpha and beta testing.

For example, one customer requested a more efficient way of storing data about surfaces in IFC, while another wanted to use AutoCAD drawing properties to define the IFC project settings. 

One large organization wanted a flexible, easy-to-configure, powerful set of rules to handle Civil 3D-to-IFC object mapping and Civil 3D-to-IFC parameter mapping, because its country’s owner-operator required certain datasets.

These features, in response to issues raised by early adopters, were implemented as a priority, underscoring how the IFC 4.3 plug-in has been shaped to meet the needs of its users.

IFC 4.3: Driving the AEC industry forward

Many regions worldwide are now mandating or about to mandate IFC 4.3 for use in infrastructure projects, making the ability to work with IFC 4.3 models crucial for companies to bid for civil infrastructure projects.

[Image: IFC adoption across the world.]

Standardization of deliverables is increasingly key as the infrastructure industry shifts towards cloud-based workflows such as the Parameters Service on Revit

Having a single design file in a standardized format that can be passed to analysis and maintenance software drastically reduces the need for rework between different stages of an infrastructure project. This shrinks costs and deadlines while boosting accuracy and streamlining workflows. 

The IFC 4.3 update for Civil 3D represents a significant development, driving digital transformation by improving interoperability. As more countries and organizations adopt IFC 4.3, it will become increasingly vital for companies to work with this open data format to remain competitive.

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