March 13

[Updated 2020] SOLIDWORKS File Types: Everything You Need to Know

[Updated 2020] SOLIDWORKS File Types: Everything You Need to Know

Haseeb Shazad

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

SOLIDWORKS file types diagram chart

    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”.

    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

    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.

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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:

    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.

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

    Finally the 2D drawing is open in Auto CAD.

    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:

    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.

    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:

    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.

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

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

    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:

    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.

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

    SOLIDWORKS Pro/E WildFire Ansys 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) X3D JPEG (*.jpg) X3D  
    TIFF (*.tif) X3D TIFF (*.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.

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    About the Author

    Haseeb Shahzad is an experienced Mechanical Engineer with a demonstrated history of working in Industry. He has good Skills in Research work, AutoCAD, Solidworks CATIA and other engineering software.

    Haseeb Shazad

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