Home » How to Edit STEP file in SolidWorks?

In a previous tutorial, the options for importing STEP files were explained. This tutorial will cover the import process, and the use of FeatureWorks to recognize features.

Download 6039K14, a support rail for a 3/4″ shaft, from www.mcmaster.com to follow along. Select the 3-D STEP as the file type.

After opening the file, SolidWorks will prompt you to run import diagnostics, select Yes. This file does not contain any errors or exits out of import diagnostics.

The link to the step file can be broken, right click on the part reference and select “Dissolve Feature”

If the file is only used as a reference and won’t be edited, there is no need to proceed further.

SolidWorks has the option to recognize features and enable FeatureWorks from the SolidWorks add-Ins. right click on Imported1 and select “FeatureWorks” – “Recognize features”.

How to edit step files using FeatureWorks


FeatureWorks is a SolidWorks add-in that allows you to recognize features on imported geometry, including STEP files, and convert them to native SolidWorks features. Here are the steps to edit a STEP file using FeatureWorks:

  1. Open SolidWorks and create a new part file.
  2. Go to File > Open and browse to the location of the STEP file you want to edit.
  3. In the Open dialog box, change the file type to “STEP (.step;.stp)” and select the file you want to import. Click “Open”.
  4. In the Import dialog box, select the options you want for importing the file, such as units and tolerances. Click “Import”.
  5. The STEP file will be imported into SolidWorks as a dumb solid.
  6. Go to Tools > Add-Ins and make sure that “FeatureWorks” is checked to enable the add-in.
  7. Go to Tools > FeatureWorks > Recognize Features to launch the FeatureWorks wizard.
  8. In the FeatureWorks wizard, select the type of features you want to recognize and click “Next”.
  9. Follow the prompts in the wizard to specify options and select the features you want to recognize.
  10. After the feature recognition process is complete, SolidWorks will create a new feature tree with recognized features.
  11. Edit the recognized features using SolidWorks’ feature editing tools as needed.
  12. After making all necessary changes, save the edited part as a SolidWorks part file by going to File > Save As and selecting the appropriate file type.

Note that FeatureWorks can recognize many types of features, but not all imported geometry can be recognized as features. Additionally, recognized features may not always match the original design intent, so some additional editing may be required to fully modify the imported geometry.

Recognition can be set to automatic, for this tutorial the interactive option will be used. When using the recognized feature, select the features in the reverse order to which you would model. Set the Feature type from the drop-down, select the entities, and click recognize to complete the recognition of a feature. In the example below, all of the Feature Types are “Standard features”.

First select the fillet features, then the holes, and finally the extruded profile. The holes on the bottom flange will be a single feature, tick “Recognize pattern” and “Rectangular”. Do the same for the holes through the rail, select “Linear” instead. Finally, select the front face as the profile for the extrude. Upon clicking recognize the following window will appear:

Click the green check mark to complete the process.

Check whether sketches and features are fully defined or not. If they are not, fully define them.

The result is a SolidWorks part file that can be edited.

Feature recognition options

Feature recognition options: When using FeatureWorks to edit a STEP file in SolidWorks, one of the most important elements to consider is the feature recognition options. These options determine which types of features are recognized in the imported geometry and can affect the accuracy of the recognized features. The FeatureWorks wizard prompts the user to select the types of features to recognize, such as holes, fillets, chamfers, bosses, and cuts. Depending on the complexity of the imported geometry, different combinations of feature recognition options may be required to accurately capture the original design intent.

For example, if the imported geometry contains a lot of holes and fillets, it may be beneficial to select those options for recognition. If the geometry has a lot of extruded cuts or bosses, those recognition options should be selected as well. If the geometry is very complex, it may be necessary to use a combination of recognition options or to recognize features in multiple steps.

Selecting the appropriate feature recognition options is crucial to ensuring that the recognized features match the intended design and can be easily modified using SolidWorks’ feature editing tools. It is important to review the recognized features carefully and make any necessary adjustments to ensure that they accurately reflect the original design.

Maintaining the design intent

Design intent: When using FeatureWorks to edit a STEP file in SolidWorks, it is important to keep in mind the original design intent of the part. FeatureWorks attempts to recognize features based on the original design intent, but it may not always accurately capture the intended design. Therefore, it is important to be familiar with the original design and to make any necessary adjustments to the recognized features to ensure that they match the intended design.

For example, if the original design included a hole with a specific diameter, but FeatureWorks recognized it as a different type of feature, such as a cut or a boss, it may be necessary to edit the recognized feature to restore the intended hole diameter. Similarly, if the original design included a fillet with a specific radius, but FeatureWorks recognized it as a different radius, it may be necessary to modify the feature to match the intended radius.

By being aware of the original design intent and making any necessary adjustments to the recognized features, you can ensure that the final part matches the desired specifications. This is especially important if the part is part of a larger assembly, as any deviations from the original design can affect the fit and functionality of the assembly. Therefore, it is crucial to carefully review the recognized features and make any necessary modifications to ensure that the final part meets the intended design requirements.