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What is the cleanest format to go from CAD to Max with Geometry?
show user profile  jpedleham
I have a solidworks file thats been sent to me by a manufacturer. Its a format i dont usually deal with. Ive figured out autocad will import it but i need it in Max. Whenever i import it from cad to max it has flipped faces and is triangulated.
Is there a good clean format for sending 3d CAD to Max?

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1/11/2017 9:28:38 AM (last edit: 1/11/2017 9:28:38 AM)
show user profile  joelr

read 366 times
1/12/2017 5:28:40 AM (last edit: 1/12/2017 5:28:40 AM)
show user profile  Bolteon
Rhino3D is your friend.

It'll pull in almost everything and output almost anything...

-Marko Mandaric

read 361 times
1/12/2017 7:23:27 AM (last edit: 1/12/2017 7:23:27 AM)
show user profile  ijzerman
I would go for step because it gives you the choice in max on the quality of the mesh. STL is already triangulated and most of the times utter rubbish once imported,

Pushing buttons since "86
read 355 times
1/12/2017 8:33:19 AM (last edit: 1/12/2017 8:33:19 AM)
show user profile  jpedleham
Thanks guys. Yeah Marko ive heard its pretty good for conversions but the pricetag is far higher than im willing to pay for something that id literally only use to convert formats.

I used to use Biturn many moons ago. I wish someone would make something like that but with the more modern formats.
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1/12/2017 9:50:40 AM (last edit: 1/12/2017 9:50:40 AM)
show user profile  9krausec
Cleanest and most flexible for (SW only) would be to have a copy of SW on your computer and import the SW assembly directly via Okino Polytrans. SW to prep the model, Polytrans 3ds max Plugin to translate it.

Most flexible for the price (if you don't want to pay for SW) would be Rhino. It will give you the flexibility, but it will be a slower method than the above. If I were you, this would be the route that would make most sense to go.

Quickest, but not as flexible would be straight Okino Polytrans plugin. You don't need SW or any source program installed on your PC (as far as I know), but if you don't you will be relying on whoever is providing the file to prep it for you, set tessellation density (for SW assembly).

My opinion. +1 for Rhino as Marko said.

- Portfolio-

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1/12/2017 5:27:23 PM (last edit: 1/12/2017 5:27:23 PM)
show user profile  Bolteon
"Yeah Marko ive heard its pretty good for conversions but the pricetag is far higher than im willing to pay for something that id literally only use to convert formats. "

90 Day trial demo is your other friend.

-Marko Mandaric

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1/12/2017 7:40:53 PM (last edit: 1/12/2017 7:40:53 PM)
show user profile  jpedleham
Polytrans looks very interesting but i dont think i could rely on the manufacturer to prep the model correctly. Ill get the rhino trial and have a play around with it.

Thanks for the help guys!
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1/13/2017 9:38:29 AM (last edit: 1/13/2017 9:38:29 AM)
show user profile  joelr
Once again i say STL. I have been exporting from SW to max this way for more then ten years.
Im sure there are other methods, but if you want to stay with SW and max and not get any other software its a pretty solid way to go.
Yes there are sometimes bad translations in surfaces, but they happen usually if you have problems with your solid bodies on SW.
Also there is a quality slider when exporting the STL, so you can control the resolution of the mesh.

One last thing- the problem with this method is having to import manualy all the different bodies from your assembly. I have a script that someone here in the forum wrote (and i cant remember who), that lets you import all the bodies quickly. Write me if you need it.

by the way, if you dont have SW, you can send the file to me and i will send you over the max file. if it helps you out...

Good luck,

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1/13/2017 12:59:37 PM (last edit: 1/13/2017 1:12:18 PM)
show user profile  9krausec
@Joelr - How do you manage material breaks in a single solid body surface?

- Portfolio-

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1/13/2017 6:08:30 PM (last edit: 1/13/2017 6:08:30 PM)
show user profile  joelr
I split the original solid body to different bodies.
Each body will be one different material in max (its exactly like in reality- each part is manufactured from a different material).

BTW, if you are doing an STL import, dont forget to use quick weld in the import option. otherwise it can take hours.


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1/14/2017 9:52:51 PM (last edit: 1/14/2017 10:03:07 PM)
show user profile  9krausec
Dammit. I on accident deleted my own post and needed to re-write. Uh.

@Joelr - Can you please explain a bit more to me about this -

This is straight from SW-

The blue accent is a applied appearance to the surface patch which represents a texture breakout. During the injection molding process, this patch would have a different texture/pattern applied to the tooling...

So you are saying with a STL that hasn't been broken up from SW specially for a 3D Artist's use, you can import the appearance and breakout that section of geo for a separate material application? In essence making one solidbody imported via STL into 2 meshes?

Can you control the tessellation density of an imported STL file? From how I understand it an STL is not parametric data, but an already meshed data type (like OBJ).

- Portfolio-

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1/15/2017 6:32:27 PM (last edit: 1/15/2017 6:47:36 PM)
show user profile  joelr
Clayton im not sure i understand completely...
what i do when i have a situation like yours, is cut this solid body into separate parts (in solidworks). each part has a different material (or texture, what ever you want to call it) in max after the import, and the WHOLE part has that material assigned, not just a few areas of it.
yes, a STL file that you export from SW and into max is a "stupid" body, and i dont bother with assigning different materials to different areas of the body because its too much work. much easier to cut the part in SW, and assign the whole part a material.

about importing STL- i dont know any way to control the quality of the import. you only have control when exporting the STL, so you can ask the guy who sent it to you to send you a higher resolution file.
when i export STL from SW, i use very high resolution in the resolution slider, but this is because my parts are usually very curvy, so this way i usually dont have any problems.

hope i answered some of your questions and im not rambling over here.


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1/15/2017 11:34:01 PM (last edit: 1/15/2017 11:34:01 PM)
show user profile  9krausec
Joelr - I just wanted to make sure you had to go back into SW to prep the model to breakout that surface.

Figuring out how to transfer appearances from SW to Maya was a huge pain in the ass for me. In the end Okino Polytrans to import the SW assembly directly was the only option I could find outside of Rhino.

The appearance comes in as a different shader (so still one object on import, but with a different shader applied to the tessellated mesh faces that had a different appearance applied in SW).

From there I run a script I converted over to Python from Mel that in essence crawls the surface of the imported object(s) and groups sets of polygons based on shader. Then breaks them out to different objects for easy selection / material application.

You weren't rambling! This is one of the reasons I agreed with Marko on the whole Rhino solution. Since you can import a STEP (or igs, but STEP is better), you can then break out those surfaces yourself while working with NURBS as opposed to a tessellated mesh from hell.


- Portfolio-

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1/16/2017 2:46:01 PM (last edit: 1/16/2017 2:46:01 PM)
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