An Exploration of 3D Model File Types
What file types are available and when to ask for what type
After selecting a motor or gearmotor from a vendor website or with the help of a salesperson, it’s important to see what the motor/gearmotor looks like when it’s placed in the application. Years ago, the popular way to view a motor/gearmotor was a 2D pdf or 2D drawing. While many manufacturers still offer this format, over the past 10 years the industry has been moving away from 2D drawings and the use of 3D solid models is emerging. 3D models give an engineer or product designer a more comprehensive view of the product and the ability to view it from many different angles. It also affords the designer a chance to visualize the spatial configuration of an application.
As the use of 3D modeling technology grows in popularity, there is some confusion on what file types are the most useful. There are many different formats or file types of 3D models, but usually the file types are broken down into two main categories:
- Universal File Types
- Native File Types
Universal file types include IGES (.igs, .iges) or STEP AP203/214 (.step, .stp) files. Native file types are affiliated with specific software programs, for example, the native file for SolidWorks® is Parasolid (.x_t, .x_b, .xmt_txt, .xmt_bin).
One benefit to using a universal file type is easy viewing. The designer does not have to use a certain software program in order to the view the 3D file. On the other hand, the use of a native file type allows a designer to insert the solid model directly into a live, in progress, design with minimal interfacing. If a designer is using a non-standard CAD system it might be wise to ask for a universal file type instead of a file type that pertains to a particular software program.
Groschopp offers 2D and 3D drawings on every product page.
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