BIM Workbench

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BIM External Workbench icon

Introduction

The BIM workbench is an external workbench aimed at implementing complete Building Information Modeling (BIM) tools and workflow in FreeCAD. It currently looks much like the built-in Arch Workbench and both will probably get merged in the future. The general idea, however, is to work as a "meta workbench", and gather in one place different tools from other workbenches that are useful to BIM, and create a workflow that is more convenient, easy and user-friendly to both experienced BIM users coming from other software like Revit or ArchiCAD and newcomers alike. The BIM workbench also features a couple of tools on its own, that are mostly wizards and management tools, located under the Management menu.

BIM workbench presentation.png

Installing

The BIM workbench is not bundled with the default FreeCAD package, but can easily be installed via the AddonManager.svg Addon Manager. Invoke the it from Tools → Addons Manager. The BIM workbench code is hosted and developed on github and can also be installed manually by copying it into FreeCAD's MOD directory.

Note

The BIM workbench is a work in progress, and will change often. Be sure to update it regularly! If you have the Python-Git module installed, the BIM workbench will automatically look for available updates at start, and display an icon in the status bar if an update is available.

The tools listed below might also not all be present if your FreeCAD version is not fully up-to-date. The BIM workbench should however work seamlessly on all FreeCAD versions, it will only drop the tools not available.

Getting started

BIM welcome screen.png

Upon starting the BIM workbench for the first time, a welcome dialog is shown, giving a quick overview of how the workbench works, and allowing the user to start an in-game tutorial. The welcome dialog is also available from the help menu. When the welcome screen is closed by clicking OK, the BIM setup dialog will be shown, that allows the user to quickly set some of the most common BIM-related preferences of FreeCAD without the need to browse through the full FreeCAD preferences pages.

The BIM project setup tool allows you to quickly setup a BIM project by filling some basic information about your project. You can then, for example, use the different 2D drafting tools to sketch guidelines and baselines, then use the different 3D modeling tools to automatically build 3D BIM objects from them. A line, for example, can become a wall simply by selecting it and pressing the Wall button.

If you are used to another BIM application, check our BIM application compatibility table to get your marks when starting with FreeCAD.

Tools

The BIM workbench gather tools from several other FreeCAD workbenches, mainly Draft, Arch and Part, roughly reorganized in logical categories: 2D drafting, 3D modeling, annotation and modification tools. The manage category contains tools that are specific to the BIM workbench.

Additionally, if such addons are installed, tools from Reinforcement (extra reinforcing bar tools), Fasteners (bolts and screws), Flamingo/Dodo (metal structure and piping tools) and Parts Library are automatically included in the BIM workbench.

The BIM workbench also adds a series of items in the status bar of FreeCAD, and a couple of context menu items, accessible by right-clicking in the 3D view or in the tree view.

2D drafting

2D objects are commonly used as drafting aids, or to draw base lines and profiles to build BIM objects on. They can also be used to draw symbols and annotations in your model. Apart from sketches, that use their own coordinate system, 2D objects will be drawn on the current working plane.

  • Sketcher NewSketch.svg Sketch: Creates‎ a new sketch and enters sketch drawing mode. Sketches are advanced 2D objects with constraints support
  • Draft Line.svg Line: Draws a line segment between 2 points
  • Draft Wire.svg Wire: Draws a line made of multiple line segments (polyline)
  • Draft Circle.svg Circle: Draws a circle from center and radius
  • Draft Arc.svg Arc: Draws an arc segment from center, radius, start angle and end angle
  • Draft Arc 3Points.svg Arc 3Points: draws a circular arc segment from three points that are located in the circumference
  • Draft Ellipse.svg Ellipse: Draws an ellipse from two corner points
  • Draft Polygon.svg Polygon: Draws a regular polygon from a center and a radius
  • Draft Rectangle.svg Rectangle: Draws a rectangle from 2 opposite points
  • Draft BSpline.svg BSpline: Draws a B-Spline from a series of points
  • Draft CubicBezCurve.svg Cubic Bezier Curve: draws a Bezier curve of third degree by dragging two points.
  • Draft BezCurve.svg Bezier Curve: Draws a Bezier curve from a series of points
  • Draft Point.svg Point: Inserts a point object

Annotation

Annotations are visual help objects that can be placed inside your model. They can be used to export your model directly to a 2D format like DXF, or reused when creating 2D views of your model with the TechDraw Workbench.

  • Draft Text.svg Text: Draws a multi-line text annotation
  • Draft ShapeString.svg ShapeString: Draws a text line as geometry
  • Draft Dimension.svg Dimension: Draws a linear, angular, radial or diameter dimension
  • Draft Label.svg Label: Places a label with an arrow pointing to a selected element
  • Arch Axis.svg Axis: Creates a single axis or a 1-direction array of axes to the document
  • Arch Axis System.svg Axes system: Creates an axes system composed of up to 3 series of axes
  • Arch Grid.svg Grid: Creates a grid-like object to the document
  • Arch SectionPlane.svg Section Plane: Adds a section plane object to the document. Section planes define 2D views such as plans, sections and elevations

3D / BIM modeling

3D and BIM objects are the real-world elements that will compose your BIM project.

Building structure: These tools help you to organize your model

  • Arch Project.svg Project: Creates a project including selected objects
  • Arch Site.svg Site: Creates a site including selected objects
  • Arch Building.svg Building: Creates a building including selected objects
  • Arch BuildingPart.png Level (Building Part): Creates a building part including selected objects. Building parts are commonly used to represent levels
  • Arch Space.svg Space: Creates a space object in the document
  • Arch Reference.svg Reference: Links objects from another FreeCAD file into this document

BIM tools: These tools build BIM components

  • Arch Wall.svg Wall: Creates a wall from scratch or using a selected object as a base
  • Arch CurtainWall.svg Curtain Wall: creates a curtain wall from scratch or using a selected object as a base
  • BIM Column.svg Column: Creates a vertical structural element at a given point, optionally using a selected object as a profile
  • BIM Beam.svg Beam: Creates a horizontal structural element between two points, optionally using a selected object as a profile
  • BIM Slab.svg Slab: Creates a flat structural element by extruding a selected flat object
  • Arch Rebar Straight.png Arch Rebar UShape.png Arch Rebar LShape.png Arch Rebar BentShape.png Arch Rebar Stirrup.png Arch Rebar ColumnReinforcement.svg Arch Rebar BeamReinforcement.svg Arch Rebar Helical.png Arch Rebar.svg Rebar: Creates a reinforcement bar in a selected structural element using a sketch. Requires the Reinforcement addon
  • Arch Window.svg Window: Creates a window using a selected object as a base
  • BIM Door.svg Door: Creates a Window object using door presets
  • Arch Pipe.svg Arch PipeConnector.svg Pipe tools: Creates pipes and corner or tee connection between 2 or 3 selected pipes
  • Arch Stairs.svg Stairs: Creates a stairs object in the document
  • Arch Roof.svg Roof: Creates a sloped roof from a selected face
  • Arch Panel.svg Arch Panel Cut.svg Arch Panel Sheet.svg Panel tools: Creates panel objects, and 2D cutouts from these panels
  • Arch Frame.svg Frame: Creates a frame object from a selected layout
  • Arch Fence.svg Fence: Creates a fence object from a selected post object and path
  • Arch Truss.svg Truss: Creates a truss from a selected line of from scratch
  • BIM Library.png Library: Inserts an equipment or furniture object. Requires the Parts Library addon
  • Arch Component.png BIM Component: Turns any selected object into a BIM object, with complete IFC support

Generic 3D tools: These tools build generic 3D objects that can be turned or used into BIM components

  • BIM Box.png Box: Draws a box by specifying its dimensions graphically
  • Part Shapebuilder.svg Shapebuilder: A tool to create more complex shapes from various parametric geometric primitives
  • Draft Facebinder.svg Facebinder: Creates a new object from selected faces on existing objects

Modification tools

  • Draft Move.svg Move: Moves object(s) from one location to another
  • BIM Copy.png Copy: Copies object(s) from one location to another
  • Draft Rotate.svg Rotate: Rotates object(s) from a start angle to an end angle
  • Draft Clone.svg Clone: Clones the selected objects
  • Draft Offset.svg Offset: Moves segments of an object about a certain distance
  • Part Offset2D.svg 2D Offset: Constructs a parallel wire at certain distance from original, or enlarges/shrinks a planar face ((parametric version)
  • Draft Trimex.svg Trim/Extend (Trimex): Trims or extends an object
  • Draft Scale.svg Scale: Scales selected object(s) around a base point
  • Draft Stretch.svg Stretch: Stretches the selected objects
  • Draft Array.svg Array: Creates a polar or rectangular array from selected objects
  • Draft PathArray.svg Path Array: Creates an array of objects by placing the copies along a path
  • Draft Mirror.svg Mirror: Mirrors the selected objects
  • Part Extrude.svg Extrude: Extrudes planar faces of an object
  • Part Cut.svg Cut: Cuts (subtracts) one object from another
  • Part Fuse.svg Union: Fuses (unions) two objects
  • Part Common.svg Common: Extracts the common (intersection) part of two objects
  • Part Compound.svg Compound: Creates a compound from the selected objects
  • Tree Part.svg Simple copy: Creates a non-parametric copy of a selected object
  • Draft Upgrade.svg Upgrade: Joins objects into a higher-level object
  • Draft Downgrade.svg Downgrade: Explodes objects into lower-level objects
  • Draft Shape2DView.svg Shape 2D View: Creates a 2D object which is a flattened 2D view of another 3D object
  • Draft Draft2Sketch.svg Draft to Sketch: Converts a Draft object to Sketch and vice-versa
  • Arch CutPlane.svg Cut with plane: Cut an object according to a plan.
  • Arch Add.svg Add component: Adds objects to a component
  • Arch Remove.svg Remove component: Subtracts or removes objects from a component

Management tools

External workbenches

FreeCAD workbenches are easy to program in Python, there are therefore many people developing additional workbenches outside of the FreeCAD main developers.

The external workbenches page has some information and tutorials on some of them, and the FreeCAD Addons project aims at gathering them and making them easily installable from within FreeCAD.

New workbenches are in development, stay tuned!

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