BIM Workbench

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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. 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 menu 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. The BIM workbench is a work in progress, and will change often. Be sure to update it regularly!

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 build 3D BIM objects on top of it.

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 (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.

  • Draft Line.png Line: Draws a line segment between 2 points
  • Draft Wire.png Wire: Draws a line made of multiple line segments (polyline)
  • Draft Circle.png Circle: Draws a circle from center and radius
  • Draft Arc.png Arc: Draws an arc segment from center, radius, start angle and end angle
  • Draft Ellipse.png Ellipse: Draws an ellipse from two corner points
  • Draft Polygon.png Polygon: Draws a regular polygon from a center and a radius
  • Draft Rectangle.png Rectangle: Draws a rectangle from 2 opposite points
  • Draft BSpline.png BSpline: Draws a B-Spline from a series of points
  • Draft BezCurve.png Bezier Curve: Draws a Bezier curve from a series of points
  • Draft Point.png Point: Inserts a point object
  • Sketcher NewSketch.png Sketch: Creates‎ a new sketch and enters sketch drawing mode

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.png Text: Draws a multi-line text annotation
  • Draft ShapeString.png ShapeString: The ShapeString tool inserts a compound shape representing a text string at a given point in the current document
  • Draft Dimension.png Dimension: Draws a dimension annotation
  • Draft Label.png Label: Places a label with an arrow pointing to a selected element introduced in version 0.17
  • Arch Axis.png Arch AxisSystem.png Arch Grid.png Axis and grid tools : Adds axes and grid objects to the document
  • Arch SectionPlane.png 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.

  • Arch BuildingPart.png Building Part: Creates a building part including selected objects. Building parts are commonly used to represent levels
  • Arch Building.png Building: Creates a building including selected objects
  • Arch Site.png Site: Creates a site including selected objects
  • Arch Reference.png Reference: Links objects from another FreeCAD file into this document
  • Arch Wall.png Wall: Creates a wall from scratch or using a selected object as a base
  • Arch Structure.png Structural element: Creates a structural element from scratch or using a selected object as a base
  • Arch Rebar Straight.png Arch Rebar UShape.png Arch Rebar LShape.png Arch Rebar BentShape.png Arch Rebar Stirrup.png Arch Rebar Helical.png Arch Rebar.png Rebar: Creates a reinforcement bar in a selected structural element using a sketch. Requires the Reinforcement addon
  • Arch Window.png Window: Creates a window using a selected object as a base
  • Arch Pipe.png Arch PipeConnector.png Pipe tools: Creates pipes and corner or tee connection between 2 or 3 selected pipes
  • Arch Stairs.png Stairs: Creates a stairs object in the document
  • Arch Roof.png Roof: Creates a sloped roof from a selected face
  • Arch Panel.png Arch Panel Cut.png Arch Panel Sheet.png Panel tools: Creates panel objects, and 2D cutouts from these panels
  • BIM Library.png Arch Equipment.png Library: Inserts an equipment or furniture object. Requires the Parts Library addon
  • Arch Frame.png Frame: Creates a frame object from a selected layout
  • BIM Box.png Box: Draws a box by specifying its dimensions graphically
  • Part Shapebuilder.png Shapebuilder: A tool to create more complex shapes from various parametric geometric primitives
  • Draft Facebinder.png Facebinder: Creates a new object from selected faces on existing objects
  • Arch Space.png Space: Creates a space object in the document

Modification tools

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