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3d scan HELP


New member
I hope someone will help.
I scanned an object using 3d scanner Revscan, and after that I tried to edit the model in Geomagic. I don't have any expirience in this, but I'm an average SolidWorks user. My intention is to import scanned data in SolidWorks and create drawings for production.

When I tried to open .stl file, SolidWorks will only import it as graphic model (becouse of polygone limit) and I can't do anything with it. So, I played a little in Geomagic (I am total novice) and managed to make surfaces, then exported it as STEP and imported in SolidWorks. Now I dont know what to do with it, It has many curves and looks bad.

Do I have to draw a model myself using a scaned model only as reference or what? Please help, I intend to give a drawings to production people in our company, so they can produce a copy. The model is an air compressor holder, metal casted.

Please explain your way of editing 3d scaned data and preparation process for production.

Many thanks from Serbia.


New member
SolidWorks mesh translation

SolidWorks can open .STL data up to 30,000 polygons as a Surface body, on which you can draw points/lines/planes etc.

You can reduce the polygon count using MeshLab (free) and the 'Clustering Edge Collapse Decimate' filter. If you do this, you can then open the reduced .STL as a CAD surface in SolidWorks, and use it as a reference to rebuild in 3D.

Alternatively, you can convert using the 3DScanTools in solidWorks, which will attempts to create new NURBS surface patches. It's never perfect, but can give you a visual model on which you can build new parametric solids.

Global Inspection Solutions
Global Inspection Solutions, 3D Scanning - Reverse Engineering - 3D Inspection


New member
I ran into a similar problem. I had an engine scanned and received the graphic model in a Catia file with reference planes and surfaces made with the scanner software. I do have Catia, problem is we mainly work with Solidworks so I tried importing the Catia file in Solidworks with a step and iges. Problem is, SW would only import references planes, it seems that it can't ''understand'' Catia's mesh. Any guess why? Would that be because there are too many nodes?

I still have the .stl cloud file and used SW scan to 3D complement that is providing me a graphic model of the engine, but as ''exactly'' said, we can't do nothing with that.

Any thoughts about how I can manage all of this?

exactly: Don't wan't to mess up your thread. Thought it would provide people with some extended infos on 3D scans.


New member
Reverse engineering to CAD

I need to mention, as of this writing, there is no way to go from a 3D scan to a Parametric CAD model suitable for machining. There are techniques to get there, but nothing is automatic.

There are 3 basic processes that I use to generate CAD models.

1) Automatic surfacing: This technique, available in RapidForm, PolyWorks, Geomagic and other reverse engineering packages generates puzzle piece surface patches of your scan for export as IGES or STEP format. This process does not create flat surfaces, perfect cylinders, or other prismatic shapes. It works well for organic shapes and carvings, statues, faces and other non-mechanical shapes. I use it for FEA models, since they just need an accurate closed 3D volume.

2) Manual edge generation and surface patching: In this technique, also available in most reverse engineering packages, you must manually trace the surface edges of a part to define the "patches" of surface. This can be very tedious, but generates nice 3D surfaces. I use this technique for A-surfaces, like automotive body panels and upholstery, consumer plastics, and other style surfaces that are very difficul to reproduce in a parametric CAD package.

3) Parametric CAD modeling: The most time consuming. In this technique, I use the 3D scan as a 3D reference, and manually rebuild the entire part to match the scan. This is essentially building a CAD model from scratch. This works for simple castings, machined parts, and other mechanical shapes with lots of holes and flat surfaces that are intended for CNC machining.

I have mixed and matched processes, for example, adding round holes to automatically surfaced parts, and creating additional backside features on surface patches using a parametric package.

Not for the faint of heart. 3D scanning is the easy part. Reverse engineering into usable data is definitely more challenging.



New member
Re Catia scans

I should also mention, Catia has its own .CGR format dealing with scan data. It works very well inside Catia, but no other packages can open it (without a very pricy translator).

If you have a .CGR file in Catia, try exporting as an .STL for other programs to use. .STL is the most widely recognized format for 3D scans. Once you have an .STL you can use Meshlab (avaliable for free online) to translate between formats, and do some manipulation of the 3d scans.

If you open a scan in the latest version of SolidWorks, make sure you select the "mesh" format (.stl,.obj,.ply,) on the bottom of the file type dialog box as opposed to the .STL format. This opens it in a different way, and you can bring in full resolution scans and trace curves over the top of them. If you select "open" and choose *.STL it opens it as an .STL graphics body, which is unuseable. You can also drag the file directly into the SolidWorks window using the drag and drop technique, and that will open it correctly.

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Re CATIA Scans

Instead of Geomagic / Solidworks, Try using Rapidform XOR3.
You are able to generate Parametric 3D CAD Model which can be ported with History just as if it is a native file into Solidworks.

It also supports other file formats like Pro/Engineer or Creo and Unigraphics NX. A great tool to create parametric CAD Data from 3D Scans.

Do contact me if you need any support.

Adarsh Achar
[email protected]
Akuva-Leading industrial & product design firm based in Bangalore, South India.


New member
possible solution

I've been using the solidworks plugin Xtract3D so I can do reverse engineering workflows. Works well.

Here's the plugin:


With it you can then import high res scan data into solidworks using the plugin, and actually draw and snap to the scan precisely when drawing your curves.

There's videos on their webpage that show it in use in solidworks, see if it works for you.

Just saw the date on this thread, ah well. I still find useful answers in old postings so maybe this will be a benefit for someone as I think it still applies.


New member
Do you have RhinoCAD experience?

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New member
I'd like to ask about Geomagic for SolidWorks. Adarshachar recommends Rapidform XOR3 instead of it, but it's much more expencive, and I use Artec Spider 3d scanner. Actually I can import directly from Artec Studio to Solidworks, but I need to manually make up CUD model based on 3d scan. Artec Says that Geomagic for Solydworks can automate this process. But I don't understand how. I've tried to google for some videos but didn't find something usefull. And I don't want to spend €6 320 for the software I don't understand.