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Can SolidWorks open Future version File?

Before we answer this question, first, let’s discuss SolidWorks file compatibility.

The SolidWorks software has always been Backward compatible meaning that the most recent version of SolidWorks can open any previous version of the SolidWorks files (i.e. SolidWorks 2022 can open files created in 2021, 2020, 2019, and older).

But SolidWorks Forward compatibility doesn’t exist because every year SolidWorks updates its software with new tools and performance enhancements. Older versions of SolidWorks were missing a lot of newer tools which would mean that opening a newer version file in an older version would certainly create issues. So, No, Solidworks can’t open future version files.

In order to somewhat remedy this problem, in Solidworks 2014 SP5, Version Interoperability was introduced. This allows you to open SolidWorks parts and assemblies using Service Pack 5 of the previous release. For example, in SOLIDWORKS 2021 Service Pack 5, you can open SolidWorks 2022 files. Version interoperability is only supported between consecutive releases. For example, you cannot open a SolidWorks 2022 file in SolidWorks 2020 Service Pack 5.

These files are opened as Future version files. They appear in read-only mode when opened in the previous release and have reduced functionality. The FeatureManager design tree doesn’t list any of the features used to create the model. So, if you want to perform any action that requires FeatureManager design tree data, you will not be able to perform that with a future version file open in the previous release’s Service Pack 5.

With a SolidWorks part or assembly open in Service Pack 5 of the previous release you can perform these operations:

  • View configurations.
  • View Mass Properties and Custom Properties.
  • Use the Measure tool.
  • View Materials.
  • Use interference detection.
  • Use Mirror and pattern features.
  • Mate the component or subassembly to other components.
  • Add a Bill of Materials that includes future and current version components.
  • Suppress and Unsuppress future version components.
  • Create a drawing of the assembly that includes future versions and current version components.
  • See and reference default planes and origins of the future version part or subassembly.

However, there are various ways to solve this problem:

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Method 1: Update Solidworks

The best course of action would be to upgrade to the latest version of SolidWorks. Upgrading not only solves this problem entirely but also provides a lot of new tools and improvements.

Method 2: Use a Neutral File Format

Export the file in a CAD neutral file type (i.e. step, igs, x_t). You can then import these file types into SolidWorks as feature-less solid bodies or surfaces. Either use a 3rd party CAD Conversion software that supports the import of SolidWorks native files and then export it to another file type or ask the person who gave you the Future version file to convert the file into one of these file types.

(Tip: We recommend the Parasolid (*.x_t) file type as it uses the SolidWorks kernel which ensures a high degree of exactness with which file data is copied or reproduced. It could be helpful when using Recognize Feature to better create the Feature tree of an imported SolidWorks file. However, keep in mind that Recognize Feature can only be used to recognize simple features such as Extrude, Drafts, Revolves, Thicken, Holes, Fillets/Chamfers, and Ribs. It can’t be used for complex shapes, such as lofts, sweeps, etc. hence limiting its usability.)

Method 3: Third-Party Plugins

Third-party SolidWorks add-ins (such as BackWorks) also exist that allow saving a current file version as an older SolidWorks version. They may be able to recognize almost all of the features of the original part. Being a 3rd party plugin, they aren’t perfect but they get the job done.

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So, we showed you 3 methods to deal with the problem in this article. Next time you get a Future version error you’ll know what to do.