SolidWorks to blender

Hi all,

I’ve reviewed a couple of other posts on here about importing SolidWorks files into Blender, and I’ve been able to import a model successfully. But is there a way to bring in the colors and materials too? I’d appreciate any information regarding this.

To my knowledge, there are only a few 3D formats that are adequately supported to allow the transfer of material/texturing settings (e.g. obj) none of which are supported by SW. You will have to re-set this up in Blender - and its highly recommended that you do so, as Blender’s materials settings are fairly comprehensive (esp. compared to SW’s) albeit manually set up, as opposed to SW’s pre-sets.

However, you should be able to steal all the material texture bitmaps that SW uses… simply search its install folder for the usual bitmap file formats (*.jpg, *.bmp, *.png, *.tif, etc…) and take note of their folder, or copy them out to your blender work directory. These can then be applied within blender’s texture functions to make your parts look similar.

Remember, too, that your model’s appearance on screen and how it appears as rendered are two very different animals. Solidworks employs some fancy OpenGL/DirectX display modes (what they call “RealView”) that make its metal parts look all shiny and etc. while its render engine (PhotoWorks) takes these and approximates similar rendered output. (Its actually a very powerful Mental Ray-based rendering engine…) In Blender, the OpenGL display engine has recently been “updated” to allow similar “fanciness” if you know how to set this up. Its internal rendering engine, while based on legacy technology, has actually been quite enhanced of late and can output pretty nice work, quickly.

The biggest strength I’ve found with taking my models into blender for visualization is blender’s enhanced flexibility to create animations - far beyond that of any CAD package. (Some (pretty lame) examples are on my website portfolio.) It is well-worth learning all the quirks of blender for what you could potentially achieve. I recommend working some tutorials (see the blender wiki) to learn blender’s basics.

Some tips on your CAD import models: (you’ve probably already read similar ones here, but oh well.)

  • For assemblies, use SW’s assembly-to-part function to create a single multi-body part from your assemblies prior to saving them out as STL (the preferred translation format.)
  • Once your STL is imported, parts can be separated (P-key in edit mode) out into separate objects as needed.
  • Always remove doubles and recalc normals out on imports.
  • Sometimes (for UV mapping and mesh deforming animations (with bones)) its handy to convert all the triangular faces to quadrangles - a function now built-in to blender.
  • I’ve found the setsmooth with autosmooth turned on to be handy but sometimes causing visual anomolies that need special attention (particularly on flat surfaces containing a hole, chamfer or fillet… you’ll see.)

Anyway, hope some of this rambling helps…

Cheers,

@mzungu:

Thanks! I definitely appreciate the detailed information you’ve provided. I’ll talk with our industrial design team to see if we can work out a good solution. Your input will be a great help.