Learn how to export all the various file types and their options in the Open dialog and system options.
- [Instructor] Once you've completed a design in SolidWorks you're going to want to create it. So at this point, you're going to want to send this file out for someone to CNC machine, CNC lathe, maybe 3D print. This is going to require exporting the 3D geometry. In SolidWorks, this process is as simple as a Save As, in many cases. But you want to make sure to check all of your geometry before you send it out and think about what process you're going to be using and how that will affect things like tolerances, the dimensions overall, and GD and T.
For this example, I have a 3D part here that I'm going to have CNC machined. Let's look at the options I have to export this using 3D geometry. Going up to my Save button I click on the arrow here and go to Save As. You can see that automatically, it pops up in the standard part mode, if you will. Where it's ready to just save it again maybe as a different name. What I'm going to do instead is save it as a different file type. The best file type to send out for CNC machining is always going to be your pair is solid.
You have two options in sending a pair is solid. Pair is solid XT or the pair is solid binary. Typically, you want to go with the XT because it contains more information and modern cam software can often handle it without a problem. The XP version might be implemented if when sending your geometry over you incur errors on the other side. We're going to save out an XT for this part. As you can see, all our other parts disappeared and we can only see pair of solids in the Windows Explorer. Before we save this part let's go down and look at the options we have when saving a pair of solids.
As you can see, there's not many but you should pay attention to them. Our file format, as you can see, is a pair of solids. But the version is where the options come in. Each version is updated yearly. So you want to make sure that you're working close to the year version that your vendor is working with. I know that the vendor I'm sending my parts out to has the most updated cam software and CAD software. So I'm going to send the 28 version. You also have the option to flatten the assembly hierarchy. This is done when you're sending out a pair of solids that's an assembly.
But for single parts like this you don't want to have this checkbox clicked. Just ignore it. I click Okay. It brings me back to my Save As dialog. And I hit Save. Going to Windows Explorer I can check and make sure that my file has been saved. And you can see here that I have the machine part dot XT. Another option when saving is to save to the step or an IJUS file. Let's see how to save this as a step file. Going back up to the Save As drop down again.
Now I go to the Save As Type drop down and go to step File. Again, we have two options here. The AP203 and the AP214. These are two different releases of the step file format. The 214 is the most updated version so I'm going to go ahead and select that for saving this. I want to make sure that I always select a dumb solid format, if you will, as the most updated version. This will give me the best results when sharing with vendors. Now you can see, that once again, the Windows Explorer has cleared out any parts that aren't a step file.
Let's take a look at our options again. Here with the step file format we have a few more options. Typically, we want to send this out as a solid surface geometry. This is going to be required so the cam software can create tool paths on the geometry. For other applications, you may want to send out a wireframe. If you're working with architectural software or any other kind of software. For now, we're going to leave these settings in the default mode. Click Okay. And now click Save.
Once again, going to File Explorer we can see that our step file is created. You'll notice though that it's much larger than our XT file. If you're sending this over email, for example, that's going to come into play. Let's save it out now as an IJUST version. Go ahead and Save As drop down again we bring up Windows Explorer. Go to the Save As drop down and select IJUS. Again, Windows Explorer has cleared out any file types that aren't an IJUS file.
And let's take a look at our options. Here we have a few more options. The file format is IJUS 5.3 in SolidWorks 2017. Keep this in default as to not incur any issues. Again, we can choose to send this out as solid surface entity which we want to do. Or, you can send it out as a wireframe 3D curves. This is done in things like rigging for graphics. Or maybe you're working again in architectural software.
The rest of the defaults we're going to leave. And hit Okay. Again same name. Hit Save. After SolidWorks does some processing we can go to File Explorer and confirm that our IJUS part's created. You can see though that this part is even bigger than the other two that we've created. The newer file type versions, like pair of solid and step have better compress capabilities so that more information can be sent in a smaller file type. Let's say that we're not sure about this design and we have some questions about fit and form.
With modern 3D printing technology we can send this out to a 3D printer across the country, or in our own shop. Typically, when we're sending out this kind of file type we want to use an STL file. So let's save one of those right now. Again, we go up to our Save As drop down. Over to our Save As Type. And this time, we select STL. Again, Windows Explorer clears out any file types that are not STL. And let's take a look at our options.
Now the STL options are very important. An STL file is a unitless file type. So when sending this out between mesh slicer, for your 3D printer, you'll want to be sure to use the right units. It's not a major issue, because all the other person will have to do is scale it. But you'll want to make sure you send in the correct part, if for example, you're sending it to a company like Shape Wyas, and getting many parts printed, or another rapid 3D prototyper. Also, the resolution is important. If you want to have a rough print that goes faster use the coarse option.
But you'll see your edges are not going to be as fine. If you want a very very high detail print maybe you're doing a 3D prototype of something for marketing. You'll want to have the fine adjustments set so you have very good curvature and a very tight tolerance on your 3D print. I keep the option show STL info before saving file just to give us a preview. Let's hit Okay and see what we get. Again, we hit Save. And now you'll see that SolidWorks has gone through a map of all of the triangles required to create the STL file.
And gives us a quick preview and then we select Yes. Going back to File Explorer we can see that our 3D object or STL file, was created. Now we have every option available to send this out using 3D geometry. Using one of the IJUS step or pair of solid parts any 3D machine manufacturer should be able to make your part. If you're looking to do 3D printing go with the STL format.
- Opening files from different versions of SOLIDWORKS
- Importing models from online sources
- Importing 3D files
- Importing 2D files
- Exporting 2D and 3D files