IGES or STEP export - is there a way to use Blender for industrial design?

I’m pretty sure this has been already asked, but I haven’t been able to find a definite “yes” or “no” as an answer so I’ll ask anyway.

I’ve designed a plastic bottle for a client, and the manufacturer asked for IGES or STEP format. As I learned these are surface (or solids?) formats, which I’m completely unfamiliar with. I’ve modelled the product in Blender as we all do, and in the end my client had to pay an additional fee for a company to rebuild the model in a usable format (which fortunately was not a problem since they were satisfied with the design, but I was a bit down for not being able to provide them the desired format).

Is there a proper way to pull this off with Blender, or should I learn Solidworks? What’s the usual workflow for this kind of task?


If is subd modeled you can use a powernurbs plug-in, they support many apps (SW included), if is sculpted whit zillions of polygons, you must use a reverse engineering software. Te most common work-flow is model in SW, and then export stl, or vrml to blender, a real pain in the ass, CATIA has the built in mobile imagine and design in P3 version, is subd directly in te Catia environment. NX have it too.

Maybe you can use an intermediate program that supports IGES or STEP that read one of Blender’s export formats. A quick search turned up gCAD3D, free software for Linux and Windows. I haven’t tried it, just wanted to tell you, maybe it can help you in the future.

Before you start learning SolidWorks, do yourself a favour and check that piece of software’s price tag… AFAIK the cheapest version of SolidWorks is 6600,- € + VAT + maintenance fee. Not sure if a format conversion here and there justifies this kind of investment.

If you want to get your feet wet in NURBS modeling, MOI3D might be a sensible investment ($ 295). Easy to get into, fun to use, with a top-notch mesher to get your NURBS creations into Blender. For the other way around, polygon meshes to NURBS, there is a plugin in development, which already does a fairly decent job. Depending on the model it can be a bit hit and miss, but the results start to look promising (example).

Thank you everyone for the input, I’m going to look into your recommendations and get back with the results.

Although this is an old thread, this info might be useful for future searches. (since this thread has many views).

Is there a way to use Blender for Industrial Design?
Yes; there are several ways.

  • Ideation & concepting; quickly block out a new design
  • Make detailed sketch renderings with blender model as underlay
  • Create an industrial design and 3D print it
  • Create a design and use it as underlay in CAD software

The one trick CAD modelling software does, and blender isn’t meant to do is making production ready 3D models. This involves precise paramteric modelling and certain tolerances in the 3D model that can be translated in for example -CNC path to mill a plastic injection mould-. So there are people who are really great at this, who you can pay to do this job. Or you can learn fusion360, solidworks or other modellers mentioned in this thread before.

To create a design and use it as underlay in CAD software
If you work with Solidworks or similar software, and want to use your Blender concept as underlayment. Or you want to render a CAD model in Blender. There are 2 plugins for import/exporting data.

Stepper plugin; STEPper (gumroad.com) you will be able to import STEP files, and use it as underlay. Or use it for rendering. This add-on is good value,

This plugin can export to IGES. Works with Blender 2.9, not 3.0.
Digital Sculptors - Export IGES (digital-sculptors.com)

For inspiration: watch this video: A vision of blender in automotive design - Odilon Loiez - YouTube

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