3 POINT CHECKLIST for Importing Neutral File Formats into SOLIDWORKS

Article by Chris Briand, CSWE updated May 18, 2023


We often receive inquiries regarding the changes surrounding importing neutral file formats within SOLIDWORKS, especially after upgrades to SOLIDWORKS have been completed and settings have been reset to default values.  Some added complications were introduced in the 2019 release of SOLIDWORKS as neutral file formats were included in the 3Dinterconnect functionality.

Considering these changes the question remains:

What do I need to do to ensure that my SOLIDWORKS installation will consistently provide me with the best translation possible when importing Neutral File Formats?

SOLIDWORKS does a very consistent job at translating most of the common neutral file formats, (STEP, SAT, IGES, Parasolid) providing a few points have been considered beforehand:


Communicate with your supplier or client, as there are a number of items that will assist you with the translation:

  • What application the neutral file came from & what neutral file formats work best from that application.
  • Across how many file formats or CAD applications has the file already been translated, potentially introducing errors?
  • What export options were used? Was the model exported as surfaces, solids or a cloud of data points? (So you know what to expect)
  • What unit system is being used by the exported neutral file?
  • Were there any model errors reported by the software exporting the data?

Should you expect to perform any manual repair on the files once received? – The adage “Garbage in, garbage out” holds true! If the export contains geometry errors, these errors will most likely translate to the imported model within SOLIDWORKS. A responsible user can streamline the process for everyone by ensuring they are providing clean, error-free geometry and not “Garbage”.)

  • Ask them what other neutral file formats they have available that would reduce the amount of translation done
  • (Parasolid being the IDEAL choice as Parasolid is the modeling kernel that SOLIDWORKS is built upon, and the fewer translations between formats – the better.)

Check the SOLIDWORKS import options prior to beginning the import of your neutral file.  Ensure that the 3D Interconnect option is set appropriately for your needs via

Tools > Options > System Options > Import

  • SOLIDWORKS offers a great deal of control over exactly how neutral files are imported and what to do with the extra data that may be in the file.
  • For traditional import functionality 3D Interconnect should remain unchecked.
  • Always use the SOLIDWORKS Open Dialog so you have control over the options that SOLIDWORKS is using via the file type selection within the Open Dialog

This step will also permit you to place the neutral file in a folder for simplified containment of the resulting files that are generated from the import.

Hint !!

<- The settings in this image are the most common settings that SOLIDWORKS users will need to import their geometry in as a Solid Body.






Check the integrity of the imported model:Import Diagnostics

  • Run Import Diagnostics on the imported body to attempt an automatic repair of the model and cut down the amount of repair you have to perform manually. (Right-Click on the “Imported1” feature in the feature tree and choose “Import Diagnostics”)
  • Working with the Check Entity tool will give you an idea of where additional problems will be.  (Tools > Check)
  • Replace any repair any faces need to form and enclosed volume and create the Solid Body of your imported part.

Being proficient with the surfacing tools within SOLIDWORKS will aid greatly with this step. If you deal with important parts routinely and would like to improve or learn the surfacing tools, attend one of our SOLIDWORKS Surfacing classes – click here for more info about this class including a schedule.

Taking the few points above into consideration when preparing for any kind of exchange between CAD systems should lead you to the smoothest translation possible.


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Chris Briand, CSWE

Chris has been educating and supporting Engineers, Designers and IT Personnel within the 3D CAD industry since 2002, and was adopted into the fantastic team of applications experts here at Javelin Technologies in early 2006 and migrated along with his team members to the TriMech Solutions team in 2021.  Chris enjoys the continuous learning driven by the ingenuity and challenges Designers bring forward. Innovation using 3D Printing, 3D CAD and other technologies, combined with a diverse background as a technologist, allows Chris to find solutions that accelerate Designers, and take Design Teams to new heights. Chris is currently being held at an undisclosed location, near Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.