Export Planes in STEP Files

Article by Brandee Videcak updated February 22, 2024

Article

Have you ever wanted to export planes within your model to send to a client, but the planes do not appear? Are reference planes important to you when sending a model to a client or a vendor, but you cannot get them to stay when exporting to a STEP file?

Sometimes, when creating a STEP file to send to a client or a vendor, there are certain elements that are necessary when exporting, such as reference planes.

Reference planes are important, as they allow someone to make additional features on a different location other than the primary planes, or create a section view from those planes, to name a few.

When exporting a model to a STEP file, these reference planes do not get translated over as they are not a part of the primary geometry that is exported. Since reference geometry is not a part of either a solid or surface geometry, these planes are not carried over to the final model.

There is a way to avoid these reference planes being removed in a STEP file. That is, to convert them into a planar surface, which can be exported by a STEP file. These reference planes that become planar surfaces, and are exported, still have the full effect of having a reference plane in your model.

Create the Reference Plane[s]

To achieve this, you will first create your reference planes as normal on your model. In this example, the reference plane is on an angled corner.

Model within design area with a reference plane

Model within design area with a reference plane

Next, you will create a sketch on the newly created reference plane. To best simulate the plane, a rectangle is a good idea for shape.

Sketch on the reference plane on model

Sketch on the reference plane on model

While the sketch is still activated, the next step is to enable the Planar Surface feature. This can be done by either Insert>Surface>Planar or under Planar Surface on the Surfaces toolbar. Being that the current sketch is still active, the feature will already recognize the sketch in the Bounding Entities box.

Activating the planar surface feature for the sketch

Activating the planar surface feature for the sketch

Showing the planar surface on the reference plane with a change in transparency

Showing the planar surface on the reference plane with a change in transparency

From there, you will have your Planar Surface on the same plane and angle as the original Reference Plane. I have gone ahead and already changed the transparency of the Planar Surface so it does not block the entire model.

Export Plane

After this step is complete, you can now go ahead and save the model out as a STEP file.

To ensure that the Planar Surface did export correctly, you can open the STEP file that was just saved back in SOLIDWORKS, and see the results.

Final model exported as a step file showing the export planes as a surface

Final model exported as a step file showing the export planes as a surface

You are now ready to send these files off to your clients or vendors, and they can see the additional reference planes as intended!

If you run into any issues with this method, or your models, please reach out to our Client Success Team and we will be more than happy to assist!

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Brandee Videcak

Brandee Videcak is a Client Success Analyst with Javelin/TriMech