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    By Peter Maxwell-Stewart

    As the title suggests this blog is intended to show you about a hidden file created during the BIM exchange workflow from Inventor. If it’s hidden why is it important I hear you ask? Well, to explain that we need to understand first what the BIM exchange is doing, secondly what the point of doing it is and lastly we need to explain what all these file types mean and their use inside of Revit. Please bear in mind that this is written for both Inventor and Revit users with the idea of giving you a better understanding of what the other camp’s limitations are and therefore sometimes the language used is intentionally “simple” to help the non-user understand.

     So why is BIM affecting both the AEC world and the MFG world.

    Well it’s because of great programs like Revit that are brilliant for drawing buildings, but require models to populate them. Now this didn’t used to be a problem as an architect could just make their own family part, like a window or door, inside their Revit Project. A Revit Project file is known as a .RVT file and a Revit Family is known as a .RFA  file. But because of BIM requiring the Revit models to contain the specific COBie data and manufacturer’s data there is a massive need for the MFG guys to supply the AEC boys with decent BIM level 2 compliant models. This is where Inventor’s BIM exchange comes in. So generally as manufacturers you tend to supply products like windows, doors, sinks…etc. to the AEC world and these, as stated previously, work great inside of Revit as Families. Inventor is great at churning out these families either as the native .RFA file type or as a .ADSK, which is great and preserves your design integrity, and both work perfectly inside of Revit. Lastly it also spits out .IFC’s.

    Now, just to be clear, you can be BIM compliant with all these file types so why do we need .IFC’s if the first two work fine in Revit? Well, another misconception is that BIM is Revit, sadly it’s not. BIM is an idea for collaboration not a piece of software and Revit just facilitates its use for architects. Don’t get me wrong. It does a great job with 80% of the market choosing to use it over rival products. Because BIM is not solely restricted to Revit, there is a need for a universal file type that works across all platforms, and that file type is .IFC  (Industry Foundation Class) .

    Due to the way Inventor needs to make .IFC files they are actually created slightly differently from the .RFA and .ADSK file types (Revit Families). They are actually created like a .RVT  which is a Revit Project file type. So why is this useful for manufacturers and architects alike? Not all manufacturers make just a single window. You might be doing the whole curtain fronted wall of a project which could be treated as a project in its own right. So why do you need the hidden file I hear you cry if an .IFC is already being made that way? Well, due to the need for an .IFC file to work across all platforms the visual quality of them is not great. Now this is not a Revit or Inventor problem, this is a compatibility problem across the board. So if you or your architect use Revit then there is another way. By linking in this hidden .RVT file you get the quality of file as drawn in Inventor along with the additional usability that can come from a .RVT over a family file type.

    If you think this could be of use then please check out the video below for how you can access this file.  


    To Access the Temp folder press the windows key then type %temp% - You may want to delete the files and folders out of it before you do a .IFC export so you can easily navigate your way to the correct file. Alternatively you could set up some iLogic to rename and save it in a different location.

    Thanks for watching please give me a big thumbs up below if you found this useful.



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    Hi Peter, thanks for this article.
    Could you clarify what the benefit is of exporting a .RVT file rather than a .ADSK file? Doesn't Revit open/handle these in identical fashion? Both file types seem to describe the exported geometry with the same degree of fidelity (both better than IFC), and, both file types offer export of a whole assembly rather than just a part file (so both better than .RFA), and both file types seem to embed BIM connector data that can be used once in Revit. So I'm left wondering which of the two file types would offer most benefit to a Revit user receiving the file?

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    Peter Maxwell-Stewart

    Hi Dan,

    I'm so sorry its taken me this long to get back to you. I didn't get the notification of your comment. Hopefully you may still read this! The benefit lies really on the size of file / type of object you want to send out. If you are making family files like windows, doors, extractors and such like then I would use and .ADSK file. For this fiel to work properly it needs to be hosted on a "REVIT" .RFA template so that it sections properly etc. And that is the clue really anything you would give a family template to then send as an .ADSK. However if you were manufacturing a curtain wall system that made up part of the envelope of the building then this can be treated like a project in its own right and therefore the .RVT would be better as this will section and behave correctly without the need for hosting. Hope that helps!

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