Best way to import CAD files?


I´m planning to use VC to make layouts. The plan is to import DWG files of customers top view of their buildings and then import CAD-models on top (made in CREO4) to build a layout.

We make quite large layouts (why we can´t do it in CREO) which can contain upp to 20 different machines. If you export these models (STEP) you´ll end upp with a file approx. 70mb large. To import these into VC is not a big issue but with a couple of them it will eventually slow down the computer and saving the VC-file will result in a 500mb - 1gb large file.

So, the question is, is there any do´s and don´ts when importing to VC. What is the prefered file type to use? ect.

I would appriciate if someone with experiance in this would share some knowlage.

Thanks in advance!


Great question. I would champion JT files, but others probably know best. Hopefully, they comment on the post :slight_smile:

About the do’s and don’ts, here are some guidelines I use.

  1. YOLO: drag and drop the file and see what happens.
  2. Don't import what you do not need. Ask yourself:
    • Is the purpose of the file for visualization, simulation or both?
    • Is high tessellation really needed or can different rendering modes, headlight, and mathematical data be used to ensure valid results, e.g. robot motion planning? For example, robot models can use a low tessellation with a high simulation level to show good animation of movement.
    • Native materials can be used and improve performance, so should I create new ones or just map the materials of file to native ones?
    • Do I need to import the entire assembly or should I do it piece by piece and reassemble afterward?
    • Is this part really necessary or can I just visualize it as a primitive and give it the needed logic?
    • Do I just want to crunch the numbers? If yes, why import the file at all since visualization is not important?
    • Do I need the mathematical data?
  3. Simplify the file in its native editor and/or use an optimization tool.
    • Check the data count!
    • Most editors have some form of simplify tools.
    • Remove holes
    • Remove internal parts and any other geometry that is not needed, i.e. you just need a shell and perhaps some other internal geometry
    • Blockify and cylindrify as needed, e.g. detailed screws can be made into cylinders without ruining the visual of the model
    • Invest in an optimization tool, for example Simplygon
    • Test different versions of the file by importing them in VC and using the Analyze tool in the Import Geometry task pane.
    • Use the Import Geometry task pane to perform cleanup operations.
    • Select and export what you need for the file. Sounds simple, but it can help to import in stages to avoid the long loading and saving time.
  4. When saving, don't include components unless it is needed.
    • If you are not going to share it with someone on a different machine or store it as a backup, there is no reason to save it with extra data.
    • When it is time to share then consider saving the component or layout as a new file that includes the components.
    • You can always polish and update the draft version before committing the changes to the shared version.

What is your option when trying to import CAD files?


Great answer from Zesty. I just differ on the recommendation of JT files, I would recommend Step and Solid Works. Tessellation and materials have been working since 2014 that they have become my favorite formats.

I definitely wont recommend the Drag and Drop ( a.k.a. YOLO) approach for big CAD files.

Approach 2 and 3 are the best and you should play with the Tessellation quality starting from Medium or Low and see how it looks and saving the component in each setting to compare results.

Also the Feature tree I would go with Optimized for medium to big layouts/components

VC 4.0.5 has the filter options to eliminate holes and small geometries, however if is possible to do it in the native CAD tool, do it there (as recommended by Zesty) as it will be faster to import.

My recommendation:

  • No "Hidden" parts.
  • "Feature Tree" = "Optimized" or "Collapsed".
I would say that feature tree is the option that impacts more the performance of the application after loading the file.

Thank you all for your answers! Definitely pointed me in the right direction.

I decided to go for the step-models since this is what you can work with if someone doesn´t have a pro license.

I exported using protocol “ap203_is” and only keep appearance, layers and groups. This seems to spit out the information I need with a reletivitly small file size. When importing I use the extra low tessellation quality and only import materials. As ccamilo said, optimized or collapsed seems to make the models even lighter.