Epic MegaGrants funding awarded to BlenderBIM Add-on
The Epic MegaGrants programme is a financial grant to support projects doing amazing things with the Unreal Engine or enhancing open-source capabilities for the 3D graphics community. We are incredibly honoured to present that the BlenderBIM Add-on has been awarded an Epic MegaGrant.
The BlenderBIM Add-on brings advanced native OpenBIM authoring through the Blender interface, powered by the IfcOpenShell project. OpenBIM is a collection of international digital standards, technology, and processes to describe our built environment for the architecture, engineering, and construction industry. It allows us to create 3D models of buildings, 2D drawings, material information, structural information, cost data, and more without relying on imports and exports from closed and proprietary systems.
For users, the BlenderBIM Add-on is a 100% free and open source initiative to author and edit OpenBIM data, including IFC models, BCF issues, and more through the powerful 3D application Blender. For developers, the power comes in the engine of the BlenderBIM Add-on: the IfcOpenShell library, which allows BIM powerusers to rapidly develop, analyse, and write scripts that work with OpenBIM data.
The Epic MegaGrant offers funding for increased development on three fundamental aspects that we believe will change the industry and offer new options for architects, engineers, cost planners, programme schedulers, sustainability analysts, and more.
1. Improved testing for geometry processing
Geometry in IFC is procedural and complex, therefore error-prone. Geometry issues can lead to wrong quantities and distrust in models and project partners. Funding will go to a comprehensive test suite for IfcOpenShell and OpenCASCADE to ensure stable geometry processing for all dependent FOSS projects, now, and in the future.
Improved geometry processing will result in more stable support across a wide number of free software applications – with the BlenderBIM Add-on only being one of them. There are over 15 free and commercial applications in the industry and university courses that are powered by the underlying free and open source IfcOpenShell engine, like FreeCAD, BIMServer, Tridify, Augin, and more – so investments in free software will see compounded improvements across the industry and in BIM education.
2. Generating 2D drawings from native IFC and OpenBIM
The AEC industry operates largely on drawings and symbology for execution and communication because the notation enables experts to quickly consume the information. Currently, though we have OpenBIM technologies for 3D-based data, this does not cover 2D very well, meaning that most 2D information, despite their legal importance, is lost in proprietary and unsemantic formats.
IfcOpenShell has pioneered the fusion of 2D and 3D OpenBIM data, and Epic MegaGrant funding will go to formalising this into a productive workflow capable of generating drawings and diagrams for commercial output. The engines that power this will also be made independent of Blender, so that the entire industry, regardless of graphical frontend, can benefit.
3. Improved OpenBIM standards support across disciplines
In order for the BlenderBIM Add-on and IfcOpenShell engine to be useful as a tool not just by architects, but also for mechanical, electrical, fire, engineering, environmental analysis, and structural analysis, it needs to be able to consume the metadata required in the lesser known aspects of the IFC specification.
Funding from the Epic MegaGrants will see accelerated feature development for capabilities on structural analysis, mechanical, electrical, fire, and hydraulic systems authoring and analysis, environmental analysis, quantity take-off and cost planning, programme scheduling and construction sequencing, land and infrastructure support, light engineering and visualisation, and more. This will be achieved by using native IFC authoring to allow seamless integration across disciplines without the need for exports, imports, and subsequent data loss. All these capabilities will be available to developers as well, to seed a future ecosystem of tailored free software applications all capable of native IFC and OpenBIM processing.
Watch this space
The Epic MegaGrants programme will enable development in some of the most fundamental and difficult aspects of OpenBIM. The prioritisation of issues and grant application was discussed in a transparent manner through the OSArch Community, ensuring that the identified priorities will have the largest impact possible to AEC professionals.
Keep an eye out for upcoming releases, where we will see many new geometry capabilities and stability fixes (perhaps less advertised to users, but it’s there!), new drawing capabilities, and more features across disciplines. You can get involved via the OSArch Community forums, or the links below.
- Learn more about Epic MegaGrants
- Learn more about the BlenderBIM Add-on
- Learn more about IfcOpenShell
- Read through the OSArch discussion leading to the grant application
- Know how to code? Help us hack on the IfcOpenShell Github Repository
- Investing in free software benefits the entire industry. If you or your company wants to financially contribute, check out the OpenSourceBIM Collective Fund