IFC support in SketchUP!

It’s now nearly three year since I fist contacted @Last Software about the possibilities to see IFC support in SketchUP. At that point the reply was that they didn’t have any plans about implementing it but the question was brought to the developers. After that I’ve seen the same questions being raised several times in various SketchUP forums before and after SketchUP became a Google product. As SketchUP have a pretty active community developing additional features and import / export filters based on the Ruby interface I knew that it was only a matter of time before someone would start experimenting with the IFC format as well. This time is now!

SECOM Intelligent System Laboratory, a Japanese security-, insurance- and medical services company, have developed a SketchUP plug-in for importing IFC files. The plug-in “IFC2SKP” consist of a SketchUP ruby script and a ruby interface to the IFCsvr ActiveX component. The ruby interface and script is developed by Toshihiko Sakurai while the IFCsvr ActiveX component is developed by Yoshinobu Adati, both working at SECOM.


Third floor of the HITOS project in SketchUP. (large version)


Same model imported to the free DDS Ifc viewer (large version)


Clicking on an object will bring up a dialogue box showing the object properties (large version)

I got hold of one of the first beta versions (0.8.1) and have been testing it fore some days. As it’s an early beta it has it’s limitations. For the moment it supports “IfcWall, IfcSlab, IfcColumn, IfcBeam, IfcWindow, IfcDoor, IfcRailing, IfcStair and IfcSpace”. I’ve tried it for large IFC models as well as for small. It tends to use a long time opening the model when there are many BREPs in the IFC file. This is partly a SketchUP ruby performance problem and partly something that can be improved in the script itself. According to the developers this issue has already been forwarded to the Google Sketchup development team. The current version will only import Ifc. The IFCsvr component is also capable of saving files so I expect it’s only a matter of time before such functionality will be available in the ruby script as well. Despite being a early beta the code for the plug-in is already fairly well documented and easy to read. There is even a help-file available! I have great expectations for future versions of this plug-in.

Being a huge fan of bot SketchUP and Ifc, I find this initiative really interesting. Especially knowing that “IFC2SKP”, “IFCsrv” and SketchUP itself all are available for free. I can imagine multiple uses for this plug-in especially for early phase design of buildings. The next natural step is of course to implement IFD support in the tool as well. Being a hobby SketchUP programmer and Ifd developer, I’ve already started…



  1. Lars Bjørkhaug says

    There are no direct export possibilities yet, but the developers of the IFC2SKP plug-in have told us that they considering making the plug-in work two ways. The IfcSvr that the IFC2SKP plug-in is based upon can handle both reading and writing of Ifc files so the limitation lays in the SketchUP plug-in. There exist a tool for ArchiCAD that allows you to import files from SketchUP. From ArchiCAD you can then store the file as an IFC file. It seems as you can do the same thing using Revit.. I have not tested it but I found some information about it here. Both these tools will take the SketchUP (SKP) file as input so you would loose a lot of information if you imported an IFC file to SketchUP, modified it and imported the SKP file into Revit. The IFC2SKP only imports geometry and GUIDs to SketchUP. The property-set information is e.g. not stored in the SketchUP model but linked up to the original IFC file using the GUIDs of the IFC entities.

  2. Frank Hollinger says

    In our case it would be of much more use if the there was an IFC-export from SketchUp. In that case data could taken out of the early phase model to make cost estimations before the model became real BIM in ArchiCAD or equalent.

  3. Helga Tauscher says

    It’s a very old thread to be reanimated, but just in case someone drops in: I wrote a script that converts *.dae (Collada) files to IfcFacetedBreps. It just generates proxies, nothing sophisticated, but it’s easy to extend. In case you’re interested, just fork it and adjust it to your needs. https://github.com/hlg/GroovyIFC

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