[Updated 2020] SOLIDWORKS File Types: Everything You Need to Know - Explore the Future of Engineering: 3D Modeling, CAD and More (2023)

Exhaustive Guide to SOLIDWORKS file types:

  • 2D Image Formats
    • JPEG Files
    • TIFF Files (*.tif)
    • GIF
  • Lower Accuracy Formats/Visualization Only
    • Highly Compressed Graphics Files (Catia Compressed Graphics)
    • VRML Files (*.wrl) (web pages)
    • HSF or HOOPS Files (stream to web pages)
    • 3D XML Files (Used by free Dassault Systems 3DVia/Composer Player)
    • 3DS Autodesk (3D files used for rendering)
    • eDrawings (view only)
    • Adobe Portable Document Format (*.pdf) Files
    • PRC (ebook format for 3D data)
  • 3D Printing/Rapid Prototyping (Exporting)
    • AMF (3D printing export)
    • STL Files (*.stl)
  • Electrical SOLIDWORKS File Formats
    • IDF (Import only unless using CircuitWorks add-in)
    • ProStep (CircuitWorks only)
    • IDX (CircuitWorks only)
    • PADS (CircuitWorks only)
    • ASC (CircuitWorks only)
  • Main 3D Modeling SOLIDWORKS Formats
    • Unigraphics Files
    • ACIS Files (*.sat)
    • Solid Edge Files
    • Pro/ENGINEER and Creo Parametric Files
    • Rhino 3DM files
    • VDAFS Files (*.vda)
    • Step Files (*.step)
    • Parasolid Files (*.x_t, *.x_b)
    • IGES Files (*.igs, *.iges)
    • CADKEY Files
  • Uncategorized SOLIDWORKS File Types
    • 3DPDF Export Options
    • Adobe Illustrator Files (*.ai)
    • Adobe Photoshop (*.psd) Files
    • Autodesk Inventor Files
    • CATIA Graphics Files
    • CATIA Part and Product File Import
    • DXF 3D Files
    • DXF/DWG Files (*.dxf, *.dwg Files)
    • IFC Files
    • *.lxo Files
    • Portable Network Graphics Files
    • SMG Export Options
    • Saving Configurations to SOLIDWORKS Composer Files
    • STL Files (*.stl)
    • Viewpoint Files
    • XPS (XML Paper Specification) Files

[Updated 2020] SOLIDWORKS File Types: Everything You Need to Know - Explore the Future of Engineering: 3D Modeling, CAD and More (1)

    Table of Contents (quick navigation)

    1. Introduction
    2. Saving a File in a Default File Format
    3. Saving a SOLIDWORKS File in Any of Your Desired Formats
    4. IGES Files
    5. STEP File
    6. STL File
    7. AMF Format
    8. Image File (JPEG, TIFF, PNG)
    9. SOLIDWORKS File Formats for Visualization Only (Not suitable for modeling)
    10. 3D XML Files
    11. ACIS Files (*.sat)
    12. SOLIDWORKS Format for Electrical
    13. SolidEdge
    14. Table Shows the Compatibility of Different Software Files with each other
    15. Conclusion

    Introduction

    SOLIDWORKS has a bunch of different file formats. Each year with the release of a new version of their CAD software SOLIDWORKS will add new file formats. We will discuss the file formats in the most advanced version of SOLIDWORKS i.e. SOLIDWORKS 2019.

    Saving a File in a Default File Format

    When you save any file in SOLIDWORKS by pressing Ctrl+S, SOLIDWORKS will automatically save that file in SLDPRT stands for “SOLIDWORKS Part file”.

    [Updated 2020] SOLIDWORKS File Types: Everything You Need to Know - Explore the Future of Engineering: 3D Modeling, CAD and More (2)

    SLDPRT files contain a 3-D object or more specifically “part” that can be combined with other “parts” to create an assembly file in SOLIDWORKS assembly. These files are easy to open and edit in SOLIDWORKS. We can view These files with Adobe Acrobat 3D or Acrobat Pro 9.

    Saving a SOLIDWORKS File in Any of Your Desired Formats

    To save a file in any other format you just need to click “Save as” option as shown

    [Updated 2020] SOLIDWORKS File Types: Everything You Need to Know - Explore the Future of Engineering: 3D Modeling, CAD and More (3)

    A Dialogue Box will be opened showing various file formats. You can add any format of your choice. Each file type has its own specific property.

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    [Updated 2020] SOLIDWORKS File Types: Everything You Need to Know - Explore the Future of Engineering: 3D Modeling, CAD and More (4)

    Most Commonly used files in SOLIDWORKS are IGES format, STEP format, and STL format. These formats are used for 3 D printing as well.

    IGES Files

    Initial Graphics Exchange Specification (IGES) is a file format in SOLIDWORKS which can be used in other CAD software as well. This file formate can be generated to be used in 3D printing as well. To save a specific file in IGES format just click on “Save as” option and select file type as IGES as shown in the following figure:

    [Updated 2020] SOLIDWORKS File Types: Everything You Need to Know - Explore the Future of Engineering: 3D Modeling, CAD and More (5)

    STEP File

    STEP files improve the interchangeability of CAD files between users. International Organization for standardization is working on its standard (ISO 10303) to improve the interchangeability of CAD files. To save a Part into STEP file just click on “Save as” option and select file type as IGES as shown in the following figure:

    [Updated 2020] SOLIDWORKS File Types: Everything You Need to Know - Explore the Future of Engineering: 3D Modeling, CAD and More (6)

    STL File

    Stereolithography is a three-dimensional printing process. This process is performed using 3D printers. The process creates parts using a faceted mesh representation in STL files. You can use this file to give data to 3 D printer. This file can be imported to SOLIDWORKS Premium as well but this is time-consuming. To save a specific file in STL format just click on “Save as” option and select file type as STL as shown in the following figure:

    [Updated 2020] SOLIDWORKS File Types: Everything You Need to Know - Explore the Future of Engineering: 3D Modeling, CAD and More (7)

    AMF Format

    This SOLIDWORKS file format can be used for 3D printing only.

    DXF/DWG Files (*.dxf, *.dwg Files)

    We can save a file in DWG format as well which includes 2D drawings of some of the features of the part. DWG format is compatible with other softwares like Auto CAD. We can import this format directly to Auto CAD. This feature is the most useful one in SOLIDWORKS. This feature enables you to convert any feature of a part into drawing.

    To save a model into DWG file click on “ Save as ” icon and select the DWG format as shown in following figure:

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    [Updated 2020] SOLIDWORKS File Types: Everything You Need to Know - Explore the Future of Engineering: 3D Modeling, CAD and More (8)

    Now you have option to choose any of the desired face/ faces. Just select any of these faces to convert them to DWG format. Click on the green check mark and save it. Following figures show these details.

    [Updated 2020] SOLIDWORKS File Types: Everything You Need to Know - Explore the Future of Engineering: 3D Modeling, CAD and More (9)
    [Updated 2020] SOLIDWORKS File Types: Everything You Need to Know - Explore the Future of Engineering: 3D Modeling, CAD and More (10)

    Now let’s open this file in AutoCAD. When you open this file in AutoCAD, It shows following pop up. Select continue and proceed.

    [Updated 2020] SOLIDWORKS File Types: Everything You Need to Know - Explore the Future of Engineering: 3D Modeling, CAD and More (11)

    Finally the 2D drawing is open in Auto CAD.

    [Updated 2020] SOLIDWORKS File Types: Everything You Need to Know - Explore the Future of Engineering: 3D Modeling, CAD and More (12)

    Image File (JPEG, TIFF, PNG)

    SOLIDWORKS Part can be easily saved to JPEG, TIFF, PNG formats and will be viewed in image format. To save a Part into any of these images files just click on “Save as” option and select file type as shown in the following figure:

    [Updated 2020] SOLIDWORKS File Types: Everything You Need to Know - Explore the Future of Engineering: 3D Modeling, CAD and More (13)

    SOLIDWORKS File Formats for Visualization Only (Not suitable for modeling)

    HCG

    The Highly Compressed Graphics (HCG) translator exports SOLIDWORKS documents as Highly Compressed Graphics files.

    VRML

    Generally used for webpages. VRML files can display 3D graphics over the Internet. In windows, it will be opened by 3D objects app.

    HSF

    The HOOPS translator exports SOLIDWORKS part or assembly documents as HOOPS (.hsf) files.

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    3DXML

    This file format can be read by the free Dassault Systems 3DVia/Composer Player.

    3DS Autodesk

    3D studio files (Used for rendering)

    eDrawings

    View only. This is the best presentable way in SOLIDWORKS to present your model. In eDrawings, you can view and animate models and drawings and create documents convenient for sending to others. To save a Part into the eDrawing file just click on “Save as” option and select file type as shown in the following figure:

    [Updated 2020] SOLIDWORKS File Types: Everything You Need to Know - Explore the Future of Engineering: 3D Modeling, CAD and More (14)

    PDF

    Portable Document Format. It could be in the 3D format as well. To save a file in 3D Click on save as 3D and click on “Save” option.

    [Updated 2020] SOLIDWORKS File Types: Everything You Need to Know - Explore the Future of Engineering: 3D Modeling, CAD and More (15)

    To view a 3 D pdf file, just open it using any pdf reader preferably adobe reader.

    [Updated 2020] SOLIDWORKS File Types: Everything You Need to Know - Explore the Future of Engineering: 3D Modeling, CAD and More (16)

    The 3D pdf document can be rotated, Zoom, Spin or fly. The following figure shows a 3D preview of this document:

    [Updated 2020] SOLIDWORKS File Types: Everything You Need to Know - Explore the Future of Engineering: 3D Modeling, CAD and More (17)

    3D XML Files

    3D XML is a universal lightweight format for 3D. To save a specific file in 3D XML format just click on “Save as” option and select file type as 3D XML as shown in the following figure:

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    [Updated 2020] SOLIDWORKS File Types: Everything You Need to Know - Explore the Future of Engineering: 3D Modeling, CAD and More (18)

    ACIS Files (*.sat)

    The ACIS File supports import and export of body and faces colors, curves, and wireframe geometry. To save a file in ACIS, just click on “Save as ” option, a dialogue box will be opened. Select the desire file type, click on that type and select “save”.

    SOLIDWORKS Format for Electrical

    IDF (Import only unless you have the Circuit Works add-in)

    ProStep (For Circuit analysis Only)

    IDX (For Circuit analysis Only)

    PADS (For Circuit analysis Only)

    ASC (For Circuit analysis Only)

    SolidEdge

    We can import Solid Edge files directly but cannot export into a Solid Edge format.

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    Following Table Shows the Compatibility of Different Software Files with Each Other

    SOLIDWORKS Pro/E WildFireAnsys 8.0
    SOLIDWORKS (*.sldprt,*.sldasm,*.slddrw)SOLIDWORKS (*.sldprt,*.sldasm)
    IGES(*.igs,*.iges)IGES (*.igs)IGES(*.igs,*.iges)
    Parasolid (*x_t,*.x_b,*.xmt_txt,*xmt_bin)Parasolid (*x_t,*.xmt_txt)
    ACIS (*.sat)ACIS (*.sat)
    UGII (*.prt)Unigraphics (*.prt)
    STEP AP203/214 (*.step,*.stp)STEP (*.stp)
    VRML (*.wrl)VRML (*.wrl)
    STL (*.stl)STL (*.stl)
    VDAFS (*.vda)VDA (*.vda)
    Pro/E Part/Assembly (*.prt,*.prt*,*.xpr,*.asm,*.asm*,*.xas) ##Pro/E Part (*.prt*,*.asm*) **Pro/Engineer (*.prt*,*.asm*) ##,**
    Catia Graphics (*.cgr) @CATIA (*.ct,*.cat,*.model) @Catia [V5] (*.catPart,*.catProduct) @
    Inventor Part (*.ipt) ++Inventor (*.iv) @Inventor (*.ipt,*.iam) @
    DWG (*.dwg) ++Mechanical Desktop (*.dwg)
    SolidEdge Part (*.par) ++Solid Edge (*.par,*.asm,*.psm)
    JPEG (*.jpg) X3DJPEG (*.jpg) X3D
    TIFF (*.tif) X3DTIFF (*.tif) X3D

    Conclusion

    SOLIDWORKS has different file types. A specific file type is selected on the basis of need. If modeling and drawing is the need, the selection of file type would be different. If presentation and documentation is the need, file type would be different. File types should be chosen wisely.

    FAQs

    What are the 3 files associated with SOLIDWORKS? ›

    SolidWorks supported native or neutral formats are IGES, DXF, DWG, STEP, ACIS, STL, Parasolid, PDF, VDA.

    What is the most popular file format used for sharing CAD files? ›

    DXF (.

    DXF files are widely used as DWG since it is supported by most CAD programs.

    What is STL file in SOLIDWORKS? ›

    The STL translator imports STL files as SOLIDWORKS part documents. You have the option to import STL files as graphical data, solids, or surfaces. When you import STL files as graphical data, you can select the Import texture information check box to import texture information if this data exists.

    What is DXF File? ›

    What is a DXF file? DXF is short for Drawing Exchange Format or Drawing Interchange Format and is a type of vector file. Engineers, designers and architects often use the DXF format for 2D and 3D drawings during product design.

    What are STL files used for? ›

    STL is a file format commonly used for 3D printing and computer-aided design (CAD). The name STL is an acronym that stands for stereolithography — a popular 3D printing technology. You might also hear it referred to as Standard Triangle Language or Standard Tessellation Language.

    Which programming language is SOLIDWORKS written in? ›

    The programming languages most commonly used are: Visual Basic . NET (VB.NET) Visual C++/CLI.

    What is SOLIDWORKS software used for? ›

    SOLIDWORKS is used to develop mechatronics systems from beginning to end. At the initial stage, the software is used for planning, visual ideation, modeling, feasibility assessment, prototyping, and project management. The software is then used for design and building of mechanical, electrical, and software elements.

    Is SOLIDWORKS a CAD program? ›

    SOLIDWORKS Design Software

    SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD has the most efficient and powerful CAD design collection available for product and part assembly designers.

    What is the best CAD file? ›

    STEP (File Extension: *.

    STEP files are the most widely used & accepted neutral CAD format today, therefore, making it a standard across multiple industries.

    What is the difference between DWG and DXF? ›

    File structure and size.

    DWG files are more compact than DXF files, and can also store a greater variety of files. DWG files use the zeroes and ones of binary code, while DXF files use text-based coding (ASCII). Binary code is more compact and DWG files tend to be about 25% smaller.

    What is Obj format for 3D model? ›

    An OBJ file is a standard 3D image format that can be exported and opened by various 3D image editing programs. It contains a three-dimensional object, including 3D coordinates, texture maps, polygonal faces, and other object information. OBJ files may also store references to one or more .

    Can you 3D print from Solidworks? ›

    SOLIDWORKS offers several 3D printing visualization and analysis tools and all of them can be accessed through the Print3D tool (File > Print3D).

    What is the difference between STL binary and STL ascii? ›

    Binary - Uses binary encoding for the STL file. Binary files are generally smaller and better for 3d printing than ASCII files. ASCII - Uses ASCII encoding for the STL files. ASCII files are generally larger than binary files, but easier to manually inspect and debug.

    Can solidworks generate STL files? ›

    Create your part in SolidWorks. Once it is complete, click File, then click Save As. When you click 'Save As' and then select STL under 'Save As Type' a button labeled 'Options...' appears near the bottom of the 'Save As' window. Click the button and an 'Export Options' window opens.

    Can a DXF file be 3D? ›

    DXF files are convertible but can't be 3D printed. They can, however, be converted to STL files, which you can slice to 3D print.

    What is the difference between DXF and SVG? ›

    SVG vs DXF What's the difference? How do I use them? - YouTube

    How do I convert a JPEG to a DXF? ›

    How to Convert an Image File to DXF - YouTube

    What is the best file format for 3D printing? ›

    For simple prints, STL files are the best 3D printing file. They are small, simple and widely supported, making them something of an industry standard. When you need to store colours and textures, the best 3D printing file is OBJ. OBJ is also more capable than STL when it comes to describing geometries.

    What does STL stand for? ›

    STL has several backronyms such as "Standard Triangle Language" and "Standard Tessellation Language". This file format is supported by many other software packages; it is widely used for rapid prototyping, 3D printing and computer-aided manufacturing.

    What is G code in 3D printing? ›

    Simply put, a gcode is a programming language that tells the printer what to do. These actions can include where the printer head goes, extruder temperature, bed temperature, pauses, printer head speed, and more. Gcodes are actually used for a variety of machines, not just 3D printers!

    Is SolidWorks written in C++? ›

    3D Mechanical CAD software such as CATIAv5, Pro/Engineer and Solidworks are mostly written in C++, sometimes with a thin COM interface for publishing basic API to customers.

    Who uses SolidWorks? ›

    What Industries use SolidWorks?
    • Aerospace & Aviation.
    • Consumer products.
    • Manufacturing.
    • Medical Device.
    • Industrial products.
    • Oil & Gas.
    8 Jul 2021

    Which is better Catia or SolidWorks? ›

    As you can see both Catia and SolidWorks are powerful CAD software, but for different needs. With Catia you can design the whole aircraft, however, SolidWorks will perform better when it comes to product design and machinery.

    Can I learn SOLIDWORKS at home? ›

    SOLIDWORKS' website. Of course, the best place online to learn the solidworks skills you need is from the official website itself. Solidworks.com provides comprehensive training courses on everything you need to know about the SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD system.

    How long will it take to learn SOLIDWORKS? ›

    SOLIDWORKS Courses
    Training CoursesLength
    SOLIDWORKS Essentials4 days
    SOLIDWORKS Drawings3 days
    Assembly Modeling3 days
    Advanced Part Modeling3 days
    17 more rows

    How much is a SOLIDWORKS license? ›

    The price for one license of SolidWorks Premium is $7995 with an annual maintenance fee of $1995. Term licenses are also available at $1450 per 3 months or $4825 per year. The premium package includes all the Standard & Professional package features as well as those listed below: Pipe, tube, duct and wire routing.

    Is solidworks easier than AutoCAD? ›

    If a complete novice were to consider both programs, AutoCAD is the easier program to use, and then with a basic understanding of 2D drafting the user could progress to 3D modeling and more complex designs that would include multiple parts, assemblies and animations.

    Which one is better AutoCAD or Solidworks? ›

    AutoCAD is better suited for general-purpose 2D and 3D drafting, while Solidworks excels in developing sophisticated 3D models and simulations. There is no way to say one of these is superior to the other because it depends upon your requirements. Comparing AutoCAD to Solidworks is an apples-to-oranges comparison.

    Which is more used AutoCAD or Solidworks? ›

    Autocad is used for 2D-related work. Autodesk has inventor and Fusion 360 to cater to the 3D market. Whereas solidworks is used for 3D-related work.
    ...
    Here is the difference between autocad and solidworks:
    Features
    Initial Release Date
    SolidworksPreliminary used for 3D design with limited 2D functionality.
    7 more rows

    Can SolidWorks open OBJ files? ›

    Obj files can also be imported through SOLIDWORKS File/Open but you must select PS OBJ Reference Mesh (*. OBJ) as the file type before selecting the OBJ file.

    What is the file extension for SolidWorks drawing? ›

    . iges is native file format universally accepted 3D CAD format. SOLIDWORKS file can be stored as . igs format to make importable in any other application.

    How do I open a STP file? ›

    How to open a STEP file.
    1. Find the STEP file on your computer or device.
    2. Double click or right-click and select File > Open.
    3. Your file will open with the associated STEP reading software already installed, like Adobe Acrobat.

    What is a Slddrw file? ›

    An SLDDRW file is a 2D drawing created by Dassault Systemes SolidWorks. It contains a vector drawing of a SolidWorks part (. SLDPRT file) or assembly (. SLDASM file). Engineers and product designers use SLDDRW files to share drawings and annotations with each other.

    What is Scan to 3D in SolidWorks? ›

    Using the SOLIDWORKS software's ScanTo3D functionality, you can open scan data from any scanner (mesh or point cloud files) or curve data from mathematics software, prepare the data, then convert it into a surface or solid model.

    How do I import a 3D model into SolidWorks? ›

    Importing a Model into an Existing Project
    1. Open an existing project.
    2. Do one of the following: Click File > Import. Click Project > Models > Import Model. ...
    3. In the Import dialog box, browse to a model and click Open.
    4. In the Import Settings dialog box, specify options and click OK. The model is added to the open project.

    What can SolidWorks export as? ›

    You can set the export options when you export SOLIDWORKS documents as TIFF, Adobe® Photoshop®, or JPEG files.

    How many custom templates does SOLIDWORKS allow? ›

    When first installing the software, you will be presented with a choice of three templates, Part, Assembly or Drawing, as shown in Figure 2. Figure 2. The three default out-of-the-box templates. These three templates provide you with out-of-the-box settings.

    Can SOLIDWORKS Open STEP files? ›

    SOLIDWORKS 3D Interconnect can read STEP, IGES, and ACIS file formats. SOLIDWORKS 3D Interconnect can read reference planes and user-defined attributes or custom properties from these neutral formats. To open STEP, IGES, and ACIS files in SOLIDWORKS: Click Open (Standard toolbar) or File > Open.

    What is a CAD file extension? ›

    CAD (computer-aided design) files are digital files that house 3D & 2D designs as well as information regarding materials, processes, tolerances, and other data. From design to production, everything begins with the CAD file.

    What is the difference between STP and STL? ›

    The STP format uses a data algorithm that presents the data in more detail than the STL format. This is due to the transformation of the surface into a kind of mesh of triangles, simplifying the representation of shape in STL format.

    What is a 3D STEP file? ›

    Quick Overview. The STEP 3D file format (. step, . stp) is a data exchange format applied in the computer aided design (CAD) industry. It is primarily used to transfer real-world mechanical and architecture designs between different CAD software tools.

    How do I open STP files for free? ›

    1. FreeCAD is a free and open-source CAD designing software that allows you to view STP files. ...
    2. VariCAD Viewer is a nice free STP file viewer for Windows 10. ...
    3. BRL-CAD is a free modeling software that lets you visualize STP files on Windows 10. ...
    4. gCAD3D is a free and open-source STP file viewer for Windows 10.
    6 Jul 2021

    Can you open a SolidWorks file without SolidWorks? ›

    If you ever need to share SOLIDWORKS models with members of an extended team who don't use SOLIDWORKS themselves, don't panic. SOLIDWORKS offers a free and easy solution for this in the form of eDrawings Viewer.

    What is E drawing? ›

    What is eDrawings software? eDrawings software is a product design communication tool for sharing representations of both 2D drawings and 3D models. The electronic data format of eDrawings files is highly compressed to enable easy transmission via email.

    What programs can open Slddrw files? ›

    eDrawings is free software that lets you view and print eDrawings(eDRW, ePRT, eASM), native SolidWorks documents (sldprt, sldasm, slddrw) , DXF, and DWG format files.

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