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.