View Full Version : Solid Edge to Lightwave

07 July 2003, 03:35 PM
I was wondering if anyone here has had any experience importing models from Solid Edge in Lightwave and if so what file formats were used to get the models into Lightwave. I have a buddy who wants me to animate some fly throughs of custom coaches his company designs in Solid Edge.

Thanks in advance,
James pontones

Triple G
07 July 2003, 04:09 PM
Well, by itself, LW can import DXF, 3DS, and OBJ files. If Solid Works can export to one of those formats, you should be able to get some usable results (though there'll likely be some cleanup involved). You might also take a look at Deep Exploration ( or Polytrans ( for converting 3d data to and from a large number of formats.

07 July 2003, 04:40 PM
There has been a thread on NewTek's own forum for a time about importing STL (stereolithography) format files from SolidWorks into LightWave. LightWolf wrote a nifty importer to be able to do just that...

Here's the link to the thread:

PS. The importer is also free...

07 July 2003, 04:45 PM
Damn, Ben beat me to it :)
*shuffles off stage, back into his corner*

07 July 2003, 04:56 PM
Heaven forbid I should prevent you from blowing your own trumpet Mike - you certainly deserve to, which is why I liked to the thread rather than just the plug-in... Have you got that Exporter working yet?


07 July 2003, 04:59 PM
Hi Ben,
...most of the buttons actually work :)

07 July 2003, 06:17 PM
Thanks for everyones help. I downloaded your plugin Lightwolf and will give it a try as soon as I can get my buddy to send some .stl files to me. Triple G those two programs look pretty nice but I am trying to do this project for my freind for free so I won't be getting either one of those for the time being.

Kind regards,
James Pontones

07 July 2003, 07:33 PM
SolidEdge will export stl files but only for part files. Assemblies cannot be saved as stl so if you have a complex assembly you are going to have to rebuild it in Lightwave. Better to use a conversion program like Nugraf's that makes a Solidedge solid to surface converter. I have not used it.

The previous replies talked about SolidWorks which is a different program altogether.

07 July 2003, 10:57 PM
SolidEdge will export stl files but only for part files. Assemblies cannot be saved as stl so if you have a complex assembly you are going to have to rebuild it in Lightwave.
Save time. Lots of time. "Import part copy" your assembly into a new part file. Save it into STL from there.

Reassembling your model in LW is a rotten way to spend your time.

07 July 2003, 09:25 AM
Originally posted by johnL
Reassembling your model in LW is a rotten way to spend your time.
...unless the LW can import a bunch of files in one go and assembles them automatically :)

07 July 2003, 11:01 AM
lightwolf, great to here from you. I didn't quite understand your post.

Assemble them automatically? Why?
An assembly in Solidedge is already assembled. If you "Insert Part Copy" your assembly into a part file you can make one STL file for import into Modeler. Here you can select the individual parts and put them into individual layers and then give them surface names.
If you don't need to move anything in Layout then just give the parts different surface names and start a scene up in Layout.

07 July 2003, 11:10 AM
Hi John,
to make this clear: I know diddly squat about Solidworks or any other CAD software...
I assume that you can export different layers/parts whatever as stl files (each layer to a file). My next import module would locate all stl files, assign surface names to them and assemble them to one lightwave object (either with layers, or in one layer).
The main reason for this would be that .stl doesn't retain any material information, it just contains a bunch of triangles. Using a layered approach would make it easier to assign different materials to different object parts.
I hope this is clear... ? :shrug:
- btw, no offense, somehow this posts sounds harsh, it's not meant to!

07 July 2003, 10:28 PM
Hi Lightwolf, no offense taken.
The point I am trying to take is that while Solidedge (SE) can't export an assembly it can export an assembly that has been saved as a part.
Most solid modelers don't use layers (don't need them). You build a part and add it to an assembly. It's similar to modeling objects and building scenes in LW.
The biggest problem is that each part has its own origin in xyz space. When parts are added to an assembly they inherit the origin of the assembly. So your idea of automatically assembling in LW means that you have to know how each part is oriented in relationship to the assembly.
My objection to "automatically assembling" in Lighwave is that, unless you can read the assembly file, you can't assemble correctly. You will still have to arrange everything in Layout. And Layout is a misnomer. It's crap at laying out anything.

Anyways, if I can in any way help with input for your STL import work just let me know. I've used PolyTrans for years now and have lots of experience translating back and forth from 3D CAD programs.

But now, I'm off for a weeks vacation with the family to the Danish west coast. No customers, no computers, no email... can't wait.


07 July 2003, 10:48 PM
Hi John,

I have been using SolidEdge for several years and lately have been looking into using SE files in a surface modeler so I can make better renderings and create environments which would not be possible using a solidmodeler. I have looked into several programs, some like C4d will import stl, Electric Image will import ACIS and Maya will import IGES. I've read about polytrans but am not sure how well an assembly file will com across. If you use some direct import format like stl or IGES can you not select surfaces and give them different textures and colors so as to make them look like separate elements of an assembly even though they are just part of one big chunk?


07 July 2003, 01:00 AM
Quickly returning from vacation mode: PolyTrans has a direct export from SE. It works just fine.

Without going into too much detail IGES files can be exported from SE as an assembly. My experience is that there are smoothing problems that produce ugly rendering artifacts, most noticebly with transparent surfaces. Lightwolfs STL import for LW is great because STL producess less of these render blemishes.

But as I mentioned previously, SE can't export assemblies as an STL file. What I do is to "insert part copy" my assembly into a part file and export from there (as I'm sure you know you can insert assemblies as part copies). Each part of the "chunk" can be selected in Modeler and saved as an individual object file or sent to a seperat layer. Or if you are into the quick and dirty solution, just select the seperate parts, hit q and name the surfaces. From there, jump into Layout and add aditional surface attributes, textures, lighting and render.
Sometimes it is difficult to select individual parts in the big "chunk". Just "insert part copy" and make a couple different assemblies and put half of the parts in one assembly and the rest in another. Because all of the parts have the same origin you can easily put them together in Layout afterwards.
If you can't get that to work then do the following:
Say you have an assemby of 5 parts. Use "insert part copy" 5 times to make 5 seperate part files. In file 1 delete parts 2-5. In part 2 delete parts 1,3,4,5. In part 3 delete parts 1,2,4,5...
Repeat as needed. Export STL and import to LW. Good luck.

Now I'm going off to bed and on vacation tomorrow. Cheers.

07 July 2003, 11:20 AM
thanks for the time and info.
As I said, I don't really know much about CAD programs, and I guess in this case exporting parts doesn't work.
My logic on the whole assembly stuff was this:
There must be some way for CAD programs to export multiple materials belonging to one single object.
Since stl is such a basic format, the CAD export has to use the same ccordinate space and positioning, since otherwise there is now way for stl aware (or even real stereolithography) apps to reassemble the object.
On the other hand, I'm not sure if this is actually a topic in stereolithography, but I know that there are stl extenstions that allow for colouring of faces.

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