CAD format compatability

Does anyone know if a good way of easily importing CAD data into blender using either the IGS or STP formats?

This is part of a larger idea I’m exploring. I’m an industrial designer (product designer) and I think that with a bit of work, Blender could be a useful addition to the ID toolset. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nowhere near it yet, but I think that Blender could really push some boundaries with the right focused improvements.

Making Blender into a decent modeler for industrial design would be a gigantic, fundamental shift (and probably for the worse, based on your userbase). But purely as a rendering studio, it could be brilliant if the right interface is developed for it. I’d save out IGS or STP files, and render them in Blender. Anybody have any ideas?

As I know, Blender does not import IGES nor STEPs models as these are more volumetric descriptions and uses complexe Brep and Surfaces definitions.
At the moment, I use to export my CAD models into blender using vrml or stl.
( 3DXML would by a dream ).

I don’t know if Blender is made to produce high precise CAD models. I think that his strength is more to get quikly an idea of the product, so that you can sell it. And then use heavy tools to bring your idea to the industry.

Yes exactly, I don’t want to do any modelling in Blender for design–even for concept models it’s just not an efficient way of working. But it would be very nice to be able to import my CAD data just for rendering. I could use STL, that’s fine.

:smiley: … such comments could result in some flame-tinted responses 'round here… my $0.02: don’t give up on blender’s interface and workflow just yet. Give 'em half a chance and you may see their potential! There’s lots that can be done with subsurfed polys - yeah, not for production, but for viz they have power.

It’s true that subsurf is powerful for visualizing organic surfaces. But to attempt to build anything with hard edges (say, a car or a power drill) is extremely frustrating and difficult to control with accuracy. I’ve done plenty of sub-d modeling, and its just not well-suited for product design. This isn’t a hobby, it’s my daily bread. If Sub-D were a better and/or faster workflow, trust me, I’d be doing it :wink:

As far as I know, conversion between boundary represented objects and meshes is not so easy… But usually all professional apps have a way to export to some mesh format? Or, well, should have, when they don’t decide simply to remove it for commercial reasons (in Autocad 2007 they removed the only mesh format export we still had). Other CAD programs I know usually import well breps and can export at least one mesh format… Anyway, it is difficult. There are a couple of opensource projects around that may become good alternatives one of thesedays (freecad, for example).

I agree - Blender is really a mesh-based modeller/renderer. Best to convert your file upstream to something like an OBJ or 3DS…

I think it all gets converted to polygons in the end, so you should do the conversion where you still have control.


…or STL

STL will work well for me. The only problem is how heavy the files are, but that’s a different issue.

I also am an Industrial Designer, we use Blender for visualisation before getting into cad (ProE or Solidworks) and rendering products from CAD.
It is truely a pain to get decent looking meshes however I wrote a script which works well for my purposes.
I export all data from our CAD to binary .stl format then use my script to import the whole lot, it merges points and autosmooths as it goes to save allot of time.
I has a bug with long filenames which I am too busy to fix yet :slight_smile: but works well except for models from configurations from soliworks as they tend to make extremely long filenames, this isnt a problem from ProE.
ProE has the drawback of not exporting a whole assembly to .stl at one you have to do it 1 part at a time, pro_batch for ProE dosnt do nice stls.

Any way try it out it may help.