How to protect your Intellectual Property when sharing SOLIDWORKS files

Article by Mehdi Rezaei, CSWE updated August 15, 2016


In most cases, neutral formats such as *.stp are used to hide the details of a design. The reason is that this format provides a dumb solid model without providing much information about how it was made. This capability and even more is possible with the SOLIDWORKS Defeature tool. Using defeature means that you can provide a SOLIDWORKS file to your customer without revealing any of your design details. The Defeature tool will remove details from a part or assembly and save the results to a new file where features are replaced by dumb solids (i.e. solids bodies without feature definition or history). You can then share the new file without giving up any sensitive information or the modeling techniques of your design.

The Defeature Tool

In addition to helping you protect your intellectual property the Defeature tool also helps reduce the overall size of the file and subsequently improve performance of the part or any assembly that contains the part file. Defeature provides the following capabilities for users:

  • Selectively remove internal details of a design;
  • Small features can be removed globally in a design;
  • Remove all holes or keep necessary holes;
  • Maintain motion between components within an assembly;
  • Compare the original design with defeatured version with two side by side windows;
  • Shrink size of original file and also save assembly file as a single part file.

Defeature for Parts

The image below demonstrates how details of a part model could be removed and provide a *.sldprt formatted file with a dumb solid geometry within it. Note the FeatureManager Design tree for the part in the right-hand window; there is only one feature in it. Whereas the tree on the left-side includes all features, planes, and sketches used to design the model. Alternatively, the original part model could be defeatured without removing any details. In the same way as using save as with *.stp format. However in the case of using the defeature tool, the result is a SOLIDWORKS Part format.

Before and after Defeature is applied to a part

Before and after Defeature is applied to a part

Defeature for Assembly

In the following image, the Defeature technique has been used on an assembly file. In this case, the internal components of the model are removed. Note that on the defeatured file, only solid and surface bodies are present in the FeatureManager Design Tree. Also, the model on the right is a part file whereas the model on the left is an assembly file. In addition, note that on the tree on the left includes a Defeature item. This is the same in the above image for the part model.

Note: The result of defeaturing a SOLIDWORKS assembly file is a SOLIDWORKS part file.

Before&After Defeature

Before and After Defeature an Assembly File

Other Considerations

  • You can save the less-detailed model to a separate file and maintain references to the original part or assembly;
  • Within defeature tool settings groups of components could be defined from which you remove details;
  • You can publish the fully-detailed model containing the Defeature settings to your Supplier Services account on 3D ContentCentral. You can specify that details be removed when customers configure and download the model.
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Mehdi Rezaei, CSWE

Mehdi is a Certified SOLIDWORKS Expert (CSWE) and works near Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada