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Accelerating the BIM workflow for AEC with fast, flexible imports

April 30, 2019 in Industry | 5 min. read

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In April, we continued our AEC webinar series (Architecture, Engineering, and Construction), allowing audiences to see how VIATechnik put the PiXYZ Plugin to the test by analyzing BIM data generated from actual virtual design and construction projects. They discovered that model prep times could be reduced by 20-30%. Read on to catch the highlights.

Real-time 3D is transforming how AEC teams develop, visualize, scale, and deliver their projects. VIATechnik, a BIM consulting and VDC firm, recently reviewed 21 IFC files converted from Revit to Unity via the PiXYZ Plugin; you can read their results in this report. In the study, they explored the compatibility of PiXYZ with Revit, as well as the overall usability.

During the webinar, hosted by me and Unity’s Kieran Colenutt, Michael Fontana and Jun Li from VIATechnik presented their findings, and Kieran demonstrated the Unity Editor’s strengths for AEC. If you missed the webinar, you can watch it now on-demand. It:

  • Walks you through the steps VIATechnik conducted by analyzing the 21 IFCs generated from actual virtual design and construction projects.
  • Explains how to import Revit files into Unity using the PiXYZ Plugin for usable geometry models.
  • Shows you how to use rules, perform spot corrections, and adjust materials and lighting with Prefabs.


Watch the on-demand webinar

Seamless BIM workflows

I kicked off the webinar by explaining the value real-time 3D brings to the AEC industry and why it’s such a mission-critical component for our customers. We believe businesses within AEC benefit from real-time 3D because every company needs to design, engineer, produce, sell, service and maintain their products.

For example, during design reviews, it’s critical to make the right decisions early on to create sustainable, beautiful, and interactive products that consumers will love while collaborating better across engineering teams to avoid costly errors and optimize the production and construction of buildings and products. With this comes model review and collaboration, which starts with importing BIM data into Unity’s real-time 3D environment.

Enter VIATechnik

Next, Jun from VIATechnik shared how they’ve worked on over 1700 construction projects, with owners, architects, and engineers. Their service focuses on BIM, AR/VR, laserscan, point clouds to BIM, software development, and project controls. And they’ve created many 3D experiences, including hospitals, stadiums, university campuses, casinos, and highways/roads. They’re known for their people, process, and technology, with a diverse team from engineers to video game designers.

Bridging the gap between BIM and VR

Jun continued by stressing that high-fidelity visualizations were key, but even with Revit being one of the most popular software tools in the AEC industry, its strength is not in the realms of visualization. That’s where Unity with PiXYZ comes in, which bridges this gap and enables countless possibilities from existing working models, specifically within VR.

Getting your BIM data into Unity

In the actual workflow, the file format for import is IFC, so Revit, Civil 3D, Tekla, and any other software capable of outputting IFC files will be compatible. You import IFC models directly into Unity via PiXYZ, and Jun also covered the import quality of the geometries, poly counts, and UVs in detail.

Jun then handed the mic over to Kieran, who showed us how to set up the import process. With the PiXYZ Plugin already integrated into Unity, he demonstrated how to import the IFC that had been exported from Revit, along with all the BIM data.

Testing rules, materials, colliders and more

To dive deeper into their findings, Michael from VIATechnik highlighted several components from some of their most common use cases. These included using the Rule Engine, establishing collision boundaries, adding lights and illumination, and randomizing population assets; Kieran then showed us how to perform these steps in Unity.

Michael wrapped up the webinar by explaining how they’ve been testing these features to gauge the capabilities with a variety of models. They discovered a seamless process that they utilized on many different projects, ranging from small interior rooms to large sports stadiums. This reduced much of the manual preparation to develop VR environments, leading to faster iteration and problem-solving since they can move seamlessly between BIM and VR models.

Recap and what’s next

Unity’s real-time 3D development platform is making the impossible possible. All components of the BIM lifecycle benefit from real-time 3D with Unity’s modular and extensible platform, which makes it easier to develop content for various components at each stage. By bringing your 3D model straight into Unity, you can add textures, lighting, or create a video that just about anyone could use to walk through the model. This enables stakeholders to clearly visualize how the space will appear, collaborate to approve designs faster, identify potential flaws, and make the right decisions early rather than have to fix issues downstream.

If you’re interested in trying the Unity Industry Bundle, including PiXYZ (for preparing and optimizing your BIM data), we can get you set up here.

In addition, consider signing up for the next webinar hosted by ENR, downloading VIATechnik’s full report, and visiting us at upcoming industry events like AEC Next, AIA, and Autodesk University London. Contact us for more information and to stay in the loop.


Watch the on-demand webinar


In the meantime, be sure to watch the on-demand webinar so you can witness the full power of Unity for AEC. Please share any comments below – we read them all! In particular, we’d love to hear your feedback for making our product even more relevant for your business. Check out the AEC solutions page for more information.

April 30, 2019 in Industry | 5 min. read

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