IFC Import. Sketchup vs Simlab

Hi everyone.

I have recently started to work with a construction company, one of the things I picked up is visualization of our projects, mostly I do renderings of everything from buildings to whole neighborhoods using Sketchup and Enscape.
Most of the models I use come I IFC formats which I import in to Sketchup and then work with applying different materials and object to make the models look more realistic.
I have always used Sketchups native importer, but now I have decided to try Simlabs’s IFC Importer.
I did some testing yesterday and found that the result of the import is very different.

I wanted to share my findings and start a discussion around this, hoping that we can share some experiences.
Perhaps you guys have some knowledge and experience from this and can share some light on my reflections and questions.

For my test I imported the exact same IFC file in to two different sketchup files.

  1. File Size.
    After importing the IFC files I saved the Sketchup files, didn’t do any edit at al on the imported geometry. The .SKP file from the Simlab import became 88Mb, from the Sketchup native import it became 385Mb.Any idea why this is?
    I often import several IFCs to the same sketchup modell, so this means the difference between having a 2Gb model or 500Mb model.

  2. Component handling.
    One guess to the difference in file size is how the components are created when imported. Sketchup native import creates only components, and nests them, all components also have unique definitions, so if I have two identical door handles they are considered as two unique components.
    Simlab does is very different, it creates groups with the component’s in the lowest level, and it also seems to work better with component definitions, so all my door handle instances share the same component definition, very handy if I need to edit 100 door handles.
    I also noticed that Sketchup native import keeps the attribute “type” specifying the IFC typ, Simlab does not. For the work I’m doing it don’t matter, but something I noticed as a difference.

  1. Edges and faces.
    Even though I imported the exact same IFC, the two importers creates a very different amount of geometry. As you can see in the Model info box in the picture above Sketchup Native importer creates approx. 3M edges and 2M faces, Simlab on the other hand create approx. 5,3M edges and 2M faces.
    I did run CleanUp3 to merge coplanar faces, that reduces the faces a lot but the big difference is still there.
    Another strange thing that Simlab does is hiding all edges (see picture below), at least I think they are hidden because I cant see them. Tried different styles, tried “unhide all”, but the only way I can see the edges is by turning on “Profiles” in the style (which makes the model unworkable an laggy) or by showing hidden geometry. I seen that others have had this question before me: No edges on my model
    Does anyone know why this happens and if it’s something I either can change in the import or correct afterwards?

  2. Materials
    One nice thing that Simlab does is keeping the material names. Sketchup Native import just renames all materials to “Auto 1”, “Auto 2” ect. But simlab keeps the name like “Metall white”. This is extremely handy for me as the main reason I import this in to sketchup is to render it with Enscape, and Enscape sets material properties based on the name.
    Aboveis a two screenshots of the same import, here you can see that Simlab does a way better job with materials which I like, but It hides all edges which I don’t like.

  3. Working with the model
    Even though the Simlab model is smaller in file size it is much slower to work in. If I doubleclick on a group or component to open it/edit it then Sketchup freezes for a second or two. In the model imported with Sketchup native importer it runs a lot smoother, almost no lag at all.

There are my initial findings regarding differences between the two importers. I would love to hear opinions from others that work with importing IFC’s to sketchup. What are your experiences? Do you work in any other way, or with other ways of importing? Perhaps you have run in to the same findings as I and found answers to my reflections and questions?

My first question would be:
In which software are the IFC’s created?
Enscape can handle ArchiCad and Revit, as well (and keep the BIM information)

Currently, native import of IFC in SketchUp bloats the file with component images of each unique component for sisplay in the component panel and each component is unique, because the origin is set to the world axis origin.
So even if you have 100 doorhandles that are the same (geometry-spoken), they are considered unique, instead of instances of the same definition. Hence the enormous filesize

The original drawing is created by an external consultant in Revit 2020.

We have Revit at my work to, but I never used it, but i considered learning it and use Enscape directly with that, but it’s nice using Sketchup as it’s a tool that I know well.

Right now I am trying an extension for Revit called rvt2skp to see how that works compared to the IFC importers, trying to find the best way to go from Revit to Sketchup, keeping as much of components hierarchies, materials ect.

All suggestions is greatly appreciated :blush:

If your goal is archiviz, then don’t use ifc. Ifc is meant for technical bim data transfer, not for archiviz ready geometry.

Why not export to fbx from revit and import that in sketchup?