Home » How to open Step file in SolidWorks?

STEP (Standard for the Exchange of Product model data) files are a widely used format for 3D models. They allow for the transfer of CAD (computer-aided design) data between different software programs and across different platforms. This is useful in collaborative design and manufacturing processes, where different teams may be using different software programs.

STEP files contain a complete 3D representation of a model, including its geometry, topology, and material properties. This allows for accurate and efficient data exchange between different software programs. Additionally, STEP files can represent complex assemblies and hierarchies, making them a powerful tool for 3D modeling.

In the context of SolidWorks, importing STEP files can be an efficient way to work with models created in other software programs. By importing a STEP file, you can quickly and easily generate a SolidWorks model without having to recreate it from scratch. This can save time and effort, especially when working with complex models.

There are a number of CAD programs available: SolidWorks, Catia, Autodesk Inventor and Siemens NX are a few that come to mind. Not all companies use the same CAD programs, to facilitate importing parts translation formats have been created. This tutorial will cover opening .stp/.step files.

STEP stands for “Standard for the Exchange of Product Data”.

SolidWorks is a popular 3D CAD software used in various industries for designing, engineering, and manufacturing. It offers powerful tools for creating and manipulating 3D models, as well as a range of simulation and analysis features.

When it comes to working with STEP files, SolidWorks has robust capabilities for importing and exporting these files. SolidWorks can read and write STEP files, making it an effective tool for working with models created in other software programs.

During the import process, SolidWorks can convert the STEP file into a SolidWorks-compatible format, allowing for efficient manipulation and editing of the model. Additionally, SolidWorks provides various options for configuring the import process, such as selecting the level of detail, surface representation, and other settings to optimize the model for performance.

Overall, SolidWorks offers a range of capabilities for working with STEP files, making it a valuable tool for 3D modeling and design. By importing STEP files into SolidWorks, users can benefit from its powerful features and optimize their workflow.

To open a STEP file in SolidWorks, follow these steps:


  1. Open SolidWorks.
  2. From the File menu, select Open.
  3. In the Open dialog box, select the STEP file you want to open.
  4. Click on the Options button to open the Import Options dialog box.
  5. In the Import Options dialog box, select the options that you want to use for the import, such as units, geometry, and surface representation.
  6. Click on the OK button to close the Import Options dialog box.
  7. Click on the Open button to open the STEP file in SolidWorks.
  8. Once the file is opened, you can manipulate the model and make any necessary changes to it.

It is important to note that while SolidWorks can open and import STEP files, the resulting model may not always be fully editable. Some features may be lost or converted to a different format during the import process, so it’s important to review and verify the imported model for any potential issues.


The result of the import will depend on what entities exist in the model.

Where possible SolidWorks will form solids, if there are gaps it may use surfaces instead. After opening the file, run import diagnostics to attempt to heal faces or gaps.

Reference planes will import any user-defined planes contained in the model.

User-defined attributes, if they exist, will either appear in the summary or custom properties tabs of the file properties.

Assembly structure mapping

The default will import the file as it has been modeled, the result will either be a part, multi-body part, or assembly.

Import multiple bodies as parts will attempt to break up bodies into separate parts, the output will be an assembly. The number of parts in the assembly will depend on how many bodies exist in the step file.

Import as assembly as multiple body parts will try to import the file of an assembly in a single part. Each component of the assembly will be listed as a separate body.


The units of an imported part can either be set to those used in the step file or can be set to match a SolidWorks template.

Tip: If units are not as per the expected template, check which are set as default in the system options.


Importing a STEP file in SolidWorks involves several important considerations to ensure the resulting model is accurate and optimized. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Units: The first consideration is to make sure the units of the STEP file match the units in SolidWorks. This can affect the size and scale of the model, so it’s important to confirm that they are consistent.
  2. Geometry: The geometry of the model can also be a consideration during the import process. SolidWorks can handle complex geometries, but if the model contains problematic geometries, it may need to be corrected prior to import.
  3. Surface representation: Another consideration is the surface representation of the model. SolidWorks provides options for selecting how surfaces are represented, such as facets or B-splines, and this can affect the accuracy and performance of the model.
  4. Potential issues or limitations: There may be potential issues or limitations with the import process. For example, some features of the model may not be fully editable in SolidWorks or may require additional work to optimize. Users should be aware of these issues and troubleshoot accordingly.

By keeping these considerations in mind, users can optimize the import process and generate a high-quality SolidWorks model from the STEP file. SolidWorks provides various options for configuring the import process, so users should take the time to explore and experiment to find the best settings for their needs.


Troubleshooting Common Issues

While importing a STEP file into SolidWorks is generally straightforward, there may be some common issues that users may encounter. Here are some solutions to address these issues:

  1. Failed imports: If the STEP file fails to import, check that the file is not corrupted or invalid. Sometimes, a corrupted file can cause the import to fail. You can also try to repair the file using a third-party tool. Another solution is to convert the file to a different format, such as IGES or Parasolid, and try importing it again.
  2. Missing features: If some features of the model are missing, it may be due to the limitations of the STEP format or the import process. In some cases, features such as fillets, rounds, or patterns may be lost during the import process. To address this issue, try to recreate the missing features manually in SolidWorks or use SolidWorks’ feature recognition tools to automatically generate them.
  3. Incorrect units: If the model has been imported with incorrect units, it may be too large or too small in SolidWorks. To correct this, use the Scale feature to adjust the model’s size according to the correct units.
  4. Poor performance: Sometimes, an imported model may have poor performance, such as slow response times or crashes. To address this issue, reduce the level of detail or increase the surface representation to optimize the model’s performance. You can also use the Simplify feature to remove unnecessary details or simplify complex geometries.

By troubleshooting these common issues, users can successfully import and work with STEP files in SolidWorks. It’s important to review the model carefully after import and optimize as necessary to ensure accuracy and performance.


Tips on how to optimize the model for better performance

Once a STEP file has been imported into SolidWorks, there may be some steps users can take to optimize the model for better performance. Here are some tips to consider:

  1. Simplify the model: One way to improve the model’s performance is to simplify it. This can involve removing unnecessary details, reducing the number of faces, or removing small features that don’t contribute to the overall design. You can use the Simplify feature or the Defeature tool to simplify the model.
  2. Reduce the level of detail: Another way to optimize the model is to reduce the level of detail. This can involve reducing the number of facets or simplifying the geometry. This can improve the model’s performance without sacrificing accuracy. You can use the Facet Density option or the Surface Deviation option to adjust the level of detail.
  3. Optimize the display settings: SolidWorks provides various display settings that can affect the performance of the model. For example, turning off shadows or reflections can improve performance. You can also adjust the display mode to use Shaded or Wireframe mode, rather than Full Graphics mode, for improved performance.
  4. Split the model into subassemblies: If the model is too large or complex, it may be helpful to split it into subassemblies. This can make it easier to work with and improve performance. You can use the Save Bodies feature to split the model into separate parts.

By following these tips, users can optimize the model for better performance and improve their overall experience with SolidWorks. It’s important to find the right balance between accuracy and performance, and experiment with different settings to find what works best for the model.