Avoiding STEP and IGES File Import Issues

Written by Maurice Cherian, Application Engineer

In SOLIDWORKS 2017 the “3D Interconnect” import option was added to the program. The feature allows for proprietary CAD data to be opened in its native format, keeping a link to the original part or assembly. This gives users the ability to work seamlessly with third-party CAD files inside of SOLIDWORKS. For STEP and IGES files, this setting can cause some unwanted results.

One issue you might notice is that you can run “Import Diagnostics” on non-native SOLIDWORKS models but you cannot heal or fix any bad geometry. This is because modifying(fixing) any of the geometry could potentially change the face identifiers breaking the update capability of “3D Interconnect”.

Another common tech support call we get is not being able to run “Feature Recognition” on an imported part that not was converted to the SW file format.

One more strange behavior is a STEP or IGES file opened as an assembly in its native format will not allow individual components to be opened in a separate window. Finally, you can’t float the individual STEP or IGES components in the assembly which means adding mates will not affect how they interact with one another.

There are two ways to fix these above issues. You can turn off “3D Interconnect” by selecting Tools > Options > System Options > Import and clear “Enable 3D Interconnect”.

If you don’t want to turn off the 3D Interconnect option, there is a quicker way to change a file to the SOLIDWORKS native file format. In the Feature Manager Design Tree, right-click the inserted third-party native CAD file and click “Dissolve Feature”

(see screen shot)

Just note “dissolve feature” is something that can’t be undone and to reestablish the original link, you would have to reimport the file with the “3D Interconnect” option re-enabled. Some SOLIDWORKS users have also noticed better results with eliminating surface errors in components by importing the assemblies with 3D interconnect and then using “Dissolve Feature”.

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