April 9, 2013

Posted April 9, 2013 by Robert Reid, Synergis Manufacturing Solutions Engineer:
Q:  What is a non-native Inventor file?
A:  Any file that is created outside the Inventor Software.

Q: What are some of the most common file types?
A: Let’s look at the 3 most common and then I will list out the files Inventor can open.

IGES Files: .ige, .iges, .igs

Initial Graphics Exchange Specification is a file format which defines a vendor neutral data format that allows the digital exchange of information across Computer-Aided-Design (CAD) Systems. Data is stored in the American Standard Code For Information Exchange (ASCII), which is a character-encoding scheme that represents text in computers, communication devices, and other devices that use text. The ASCII text-based format can be used to save or export vector data, store wireframe models, surface or solid object representations, circuit diagrams, and other objects. The IGES format was introduced in 1979.

SAT Files: .sat (versions 4.0 – 7.0)

Standard Acis Text stores Three-Dimensional(3d) geometry information in a standard text file; used for exchanging 3D data between multiple 3D CAD software programs. SAT files are stored in the ASCII text format, and may also be saved in a binary format using the .SAB file format. ACIS, is the International Association for Computing and Information System, which provides a global forum for industry and education to interact with one another, the latest developments in the fields of computer, information sciences.

STEP Files: .stp, .ste, .step

Standard for the Exchange of Product Data, is an ISO standard exchange format; used for representing Three-Dimensional (3D) data in a format that can be recognized across multiple CAD Software Programs. STEP files also use the ASCII text-based format.

Other 3D Parametric Modeling Software

Inventor can also open (along with their file extensions):

  • CATIA: V4 Files, .model, .session, .exp, .dlv3, V5 Files, .CATPart, .CATProduct, & .cgr
  • Pro/ENGINEER Files, .prt, .asm
  • Pro/ENGINEER Granite Files, .g
  • Pro/ENGINEER Neutral Files, .neu
  • Creo Parametric files *.part*, *.asm*
  • UniGraphics/NX UniGraphics/UG, .prt
  • Solidedge, Files must be exported out as .x_t
  • SolidWorks Files, .prt, .sldprt, .asm, & sldasm

Finally, the other types of non-native files:

Parasolid is a geometric modeling kernel owned by Siemens PLM Software (formerly UGS Corp.), that can be licensed by other companies for use in their 3D computer graphics software products. Parasolid’s capabilities include model creation and editing utilities such as Boolean modeling operators, feature modeling support, advanced surfacing, thickening and hollowing, blending and filleting and sheet modeling. Parasolid also includes tools for direct model editing, including tapering, offsetting, geometry replacement and removal of feature details with automated regeneration of surrounding data. Parasolid also provides wide-ranging graphical and rendering support, including hidden-line, wireframe and drafting, tessellation and model data inquiries. When exported from the parent software package, a Parasolid commonly has the file extension .x_t. Another format is .x_b, which is in binary format so it is more machine independent and not subject to binary-to-text conversion errors. Most Parasolid files can communicate and migrate only 3D solids and/or surface data – Parasolid files currently cannot communicate and migrate 2D data such as lines and arcs.
JT (Visualization Format) is a 3D data format developed by Siemens PLM Software    (formerly UGS Corp.) and is used for product visualization, collaboration, and CAD data exchange. It can contain any combination of approximate (faceted) data, exact boundary representation surfaces (NURBS), Product and Manufacturing Information (PMI), and Metadata (textual attributes) either exported from the native CAD system or inserted by a product data management (PDM) system. It is probably the most widely used 3D visualization format for discrete manufacturing with over 4,000,100 JT-enabled licenses of software in use. On 2009 September 18 the ISO stated officially that the JT specification has been accepted for publication as an ISO Publicly Available Specification (PAS). JT import options include the option to import mesh data. This mesh data can include the highest or lowest tessellation detail.
Intermediate Board Files (IDF Board Files: .brd, .emn, .bdf, .idf ) is the standard data exchange format for transferring Printed Circuit Assembly(PCA) files between printed circuit boards(PCB) layouts and mechanical design programs. IDF board files can be imported into Inventor as assembly or part files. Rhino Files:  .3dm Rhinoceros is a commercial NURBS based 3D software created by Robert McNeel & Associates. STereoLithography: STL files  .stl This is a native file to the stereolithography CAD software created by 3D Systems.

Autodesk Products:

  • Inventor Fusion .dwg
  • Alias .wire
  • AutoCAD .dwg

And that is the full list for now, with a little history mixed in.  Autodesk updates these from time to time, so check in with us in the future if you have a question about it or are having an issue with a file format.
See some of Bob’s previous posts:

Robert Reid graduated from Middlesex College in New Jersey with a Degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology. With over 25 years of Industrial Machine Design, including Wire Drawing Machinery, Plastic Processing Machinery, & Packaging Machinery, Robert has held various positions within the workforce, including, Manager of Engineering; Sheet Extrusion Dept, Manager of Engineering, Chief Design Engineer. He is currently an Autodesk Inventor Certified Expert.
Contact us, visit the Synergis website or subscribe to our blog.