What Is an IFC File?

How to Open, Edit, & Convert IFC Files

IFC Files
IFC Files.

A file with the IFC file extension is an Industry Foundation Classes file. The IFC-SPF file format is currently developed by buildingSMART and is used by Building Information Modeling (BIM) programs to hold models and designs of facilities and buildings.

IFC-XML and IFC-ZIP files are very similar to the IFC-SPF format but instead use the .IFCXML and .IFCZIP file extensions to indicate that the IFC data file is either XML-structured or ZIP-compressed, respectively.

How to Open an IFC File

IFC files can be opened with Autodesk's Revit, Tekla's BIMsight software, Adobe Acrobat, FME Desktop, Constructivity Model Viewer, CYPECAD, SketchUp (with the IFC2SKP plug-in), or GRAPHISOFT's ARCHICAD.

Note: See how to open an IFC file in Revit if you need help using the file with that program.

IFC Wiki has a list of several other free programs that can open IFC files, including Areddo and BIM Surfer.

Since IFC-SPF files are just text files, they can also be opened with Notepad++ or any other text editor. However, only do this if you want to see the text data that makes up the file; you won't be able to see the 3D design in a text editor.

IFC-ZIP files are just ZIP-compressed .IFC files, so the same text editor rules apply to them once the .IFC files have been extracted from the archive.

On the other hand, IFC-XML files are XML-based, which means you'll want an XML viewer/editor to see the text in those types of files.

Solibri IFC Optimizer can open an IFC file too, but only for the purpose of reducing its file size.

Note: An .ICF file looks similar to files that have the .IFC extension but they're actually Zoom Router Configuration files used as a backup text file for the settings of a Zoom router.

If you find that an application on your PC does try to open the IFC file but it's the wrong application or if you would rather have another installed program open IFC files, see my How To Change the Default Program for a Specific File Extension guide for making that change in Windows.

How to Convert an IFC File

You can save an IFC file to several other file formats using IfcOpenShell. It supports converting IFC to OBJ, STP, SVG, XML, DAE, and IGS.

See BIMopedia's Creating 3D PDFs from IFC Files if you want to convert an IFC file to a PDF using Autodesk's Revit software.

See what Autodesk says about IFC and DWG files used with their AutoCAD program if you want to see how DWG and IFC work together.

Some of the programs from above that can open an IFC file may also be able to convert, export, or save the file to another format.

IFC History

The Autodesk company started the IFC initiative in 1994 as a way to support integrated application development. Some of the 12 initial companies that joined included Honeywell, Butler Manufacturing, and AT&T.

Industry Alliance for Interoperability opened membership to anyone in 1995 and then changed its name to the International Alliance for Interoperability. The non-profit's intent was to publish the Industry Foundation Class (IFC) as an AEC product model.

The name was changed again in 2005 and is now maintained by buildingSMART.

More Help With IFC Files

See Get More Help for information about contacting me on social networks or via email, posting on tech support forums, and more.

Let me know what kinds of problems you're having with opening or using the IFC file and I'll see what I can do to help.