Can Blender Use The STEP File Format?

As a 3D application that has built a reputation for being the open-source jack of all trades, Blender needs to be able to both import and export a wide variety of formats for, 3D objects, textures, images, sounds, and videos in order to make the most of all the tools that it has available.

STEP files can be imported using the STEPper addon. If you do not have the add-on, then the STEP file will need to be converted as another 3D file format, such as an STL or an obj, and then imported into Blender as those file formats. STEP files cannot be exported from Blender.

Blender is capable of using 3D data from just about any other software, but in some cases requires the data to be stored in a universal format like an obj before it can be used in Blender.

What Exactly Is A STEP File And Why Use One In Blender?

STEP is short for STandard for the Exchange of Product data and is a file format used for the transfer of 3D objects between applications. It is best suited for models and programs that center around 3D printing and manufacturing design.

It is considered to be a more accurate file format than something like stl, which is why converting a STEP file to an stl can result in a loss of mesh data.

Because the STEP file is very good at storing information for 3D objects, you may think that Blender can use STEP files in its own projects, however, this is not the case, as there is no way in the vanilla build to directly import STEP files. Therefore, either an addon must be used to perform the import process, or the file must be converted into a format at the potential loss of data.

What Programs Are Compatible With Step Files?

Remember that a STEP file is used to transfer data from one app to another, so the question of compatibility involves whether your software can import or export with the STEP format.

Blender cannot in its current state, but there are applications that can and are listed below…

  • Solidworks
  • Fusion360
  • AutoCAD
  • ArchiCAD
  • OnShape

These are the main applications that you are likely to use that are compatible with the file format and they all center around similar workflows of 3D model design.

Can STEP Files be Imported Directly Into Blender?

You can only import STEP files directly into Blender using a paid add-on. The add-on in question is called STEPper and is developed by an individual who goes by the name Ambi.

You can purchase the add-on via Gumroad using the link listed below.

STEPper Add-on for Blender

At the time of writing, this plugin is only accessible for windows devices, you can run it on LINUX but this operating system is currently unsupported.

To use the add-on, download the zip file after purchase, save it to a file labeled add-ons on your computer, and open up your Blender software. Access the addons section of the preferences panel and select the install button at the top of the panel.

Locate your zip file and select it, then import the file. Note that you do not need to extract zip files from add-ons in order to use them. Make sure to tick the box next to the add-on in order to begin using it, and close the preferences menu.

Once you have installed the addon and activated it, go to the File menu and then go to where it says import and the STEP option should be located towards the bottom of the list. Select it, then locate and select the object that you want to import, and finish by clicking the blue import button.

Converting Step Files Into A Usable Format

If you do not have access to the addon, then you will need to convert your STEP file into another file format that is compatible with Blender.

You have several choices for which file format you want to use as the intermediary format for the 3D data. You can use the basic Wavefront obj format, the Collada DAE extension, or the popular STL format.

Many users note that there are issues with the process of exporting to these file types and then reimporting them into your version of Blender. The main issue is the loss of objects in the import that fail to make the transition.

There is a solution to this in the form of the CAD assistant software from Open Cascade. This is an open-source program that acts as a CAD viewer for almost all proprietary 3D file formats.

As such an easier approach would be to export your CAD file to the CAD assistant and then use the tools of the software to export again as a file format compatible with Blender, such as an STL.

If you want to check out the CAD assistant software, which by the way is open source, then you can do so by clicking the link below.

CADassistant by Open Cascade

Can Step Files Be Exporting From Blender?

While there are solutions to importing can files into Blender in the form of add-ons, there is no way to export a file directly as a STEP file.

Instead, the reverse of the conversion process will be required, where we export the model as an STL or obj file format, and then import the model into an application that is able to use STEP files. Of course, since the other file formats can only hold a limited amount of data, the STEP file can only use what was in the previous file format.

Thanks For Reading The Article

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