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BIM/CAD Formats per App: An iPad Guide

This feature report lists BIM/CAD file formats and which apps associate themselves with each format or vice versa. This is a good shortcut guide to finding the apps you will need.

BIM/CAD Formats Per App: A Guide

This feature is apart of our Ultimate iPad Guide: Apps for Architects series but its applicability to beyond AEC is somewhat valid. The primary CAD formats listed herein are used extensively within the AEC industry.

The big four BIM players include Autodesk Revit, Bentley Microstation, Graphisoft ArchiCAD and Nemetschek Vectorworks Architect. One could argue for Nemetschek ALLPLAN and Gehry Technologies’ Digital Project also but we didn’t find any iPad apps for viewing those file formats natively. Gehry Technologies has its GTeam app and an iOS mobile viewer is coming but not yet here.

For CAD formats Autodesk DWG is an industry de facto standard. The less proprietary format DXF is also a universal standard for information exchange. Autodesk’s less popular DWF format also has iOS support among apps. Bentley’s approach to iOS apps is its i-model format. One needs the Bentley desktop applications to create i-models.

01 – it can be challenging put a thorough list together like this. New apps are coming all the time, like cado by Orange Juice Studios in the UK. This app may have figured out how to truly draw accurately on the iPad.

Finally, we have included some open-standard 3D CAD formats with robust market use and acceptance. These are quite common on the MCAD side but also have use in AEC in limited form. Within this group is listed the IFC 2×3 file format for BIM.

We are going to start with propriatary formats first and then review the most popular open formats below.

Proprietary Formats

The following apps can import/export or produce AutoCAD DWG files:

The following apps can import/export or produce AutoCAD DXF files:

The following apps can import/export or produce AutoCAD DWF files:

The following apps can import/export or produce AutoCAD Revit files:

The following apps can import/export or produce Graphisoft ArchiCAD files:

The following apps can import/export or produce Nemetschek Vectorworks files:

The following apps can import/export or produce Tekla-based files:

The following apps can import/export or produce Bentley Microsystem i-model or DNG files:

The following apps can import/export or produce Rhino (3DM) files:

The following apps can import/export or produce Trimble SketchUp files:

Open Industry Formats

The following apps can import/export or produce (Industry Foundation Classes) IFC 2×3 files:

  • Field3D — the only generic IFC viewer app on the market for Apple iOS

The following apps can import/export or produce .OBJ files:

The following apps can import/export or produce 3D PDF (U3D) files:

The following apps can import/export or produce STEP files:

The following apps can import/export or produce IGES files:

We fully acknowledge that we likely are missing some apps that should be listed above. There are new apps coming out all the time like Gehry Technologies’ iPad app for GTeam and an exciting new app called cado by Orange Juice Studios in the UK which just might get the mobile CAD authoring done right down. These are not listed above yet. When these future apps do come out we will be sure to put them in the right locations throughout this series.

If you have something interesting to share with us we’d love to hear it. Email us.

This concludes our “guides” in this special series. We have other exciting features in this series so stay tuned on Architosh for more features for our Ultimate iPad Guide: Apps for Architects.

series index page: Ultimate iPad Guide: Apps for Architects