CIS/2 and IFC - Product Data Standards for Structural Steel

SteelVis (CIS/2 to VRML and IFC Translator, aka CIS/2 Viewer)

SteelVis translates CIS/2 files into VRML files (3D model for viewing) or IFC files. VRML files are viewed with VRML viewers or web browser plugins. The IFC files can be imported into many BIM programs and IFC viewers. SteelVis also includes the CIS/2 File Analyzer that generates spreadsheets from CIS/2 files.

There is no IFC to CIS/2 translator. There is no VRML to CIS/2 or VRML to IFC converter.

SteelVis was first developed in 2000 as a command-line program running on a Silicon Graphics workstation. In 2001 it was ported to run as a web service. The Windows version was released in 2003. SteelVis is no longer being developed as of 2012.

Papers and Presentations


The VRML models can also be displayed with X3DOM in a web browser that supports WebGL. It does not require any plugin to view the 3D model. Use the mouse to navigate the model. (larger view)



CIS/2 Logo The CIMSteel Integration Standards (CIS/2) is the product model and data exchange file format for structural steel project information. CIS/2 is intended to create a seamless and integrated flow of information among all parties of the steel supply chain involved in the construction of steel framed structures. CIMsteel stands for the Computer Integrated Manufacturing of Constructional Steelwork.

CIS/2 has been implemented as a file import or export capability by many steel design, analysis, engineering, fabrication, and construction software packages. A CIS/2 file exported by an analysis or design program could be imported into a detailing program to detail the connections. CIS/2 itself is not a software package that you buy. The user will see it as a file format, just like DXF is a file format, that is imported or exported in a steel related CAD software.

The CIS/2 standard covers everything from nuts and bolts to materials and loads to frames and assemblies. Structures can be represented as analysis, design, or manufacturing (detailed) models. There is a logical relationship between the different types of models. For example, a beam in an analysis model that has to be subdivided for analysis is logically only one beam in the detailed model.

The use of CIS/2 and the Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) is an important part of improving the delivery of structural steel projects in the steel supply chain. It can eliminate the redundant and error-prone reentry of information. Interoperability between different CAD software packages using CIS/2 and IFC is also a key driver of Building Information Modeling (BIM).

SteelVis was developed by NIST. CIS/2 was developed by Andrew Crowley and Alastair Watson at the Steel Construction Institute (UK) in the late 1990's. Georgia Tech was also instrumental in the development and implementation of CIS/2.


Resources Research


Industry Foundation Classes (IFC)

Link to buildingSMART The Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) are the product data model developed by buildingSMART to facilitate interoperability in the building industry. A CIS/2 to IFC translator (SteelVis) has been developed. This allows CIS/2 information to be imported into BIM applications that support IFC. In the BIM software the steel structure can be used to do model coordination and clash detection with other parts of the structure such as mechanical systems, ductwork, and concrete structures.

IFC Resources

NIST Resources


CIS/2 import and/or export is supported by:

Check with the software vendors for complete details. Some of the software also supports IFC. NIST Disclaimer


This software was developed at the National Institute of Standards and Technology by employees of the Federal Government in the course of their official duties. Pursuant to Title 17 Section 105 of the United States Code this software is not subject to copyright protection and is in the public domain. This software is an experimental system. NIST assumes no responsibility whatsoever for its use by other parties, and makes no guarantees, expressed or implied, about its quality, reliability, or any other characteristic.

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The original URL for this page is http://cic.nist.gov/vrml/cis2.html