InStep Studio 3.0, formerly InStep (and before that simply stl2step) is an application that converts Mesh to CAD files. The most common of these mesh / polygon formats
is the STL format. STL files come as both ascii and binary formats with the binary STL files being more compact. OBJ files are also supported (though
no materials are imported). The output is to the STEP (.STP) file format with is a very popular, CAD-neutral file format.
Below is a brief overview over the capabilities of the application. For more information, please visit the Web Help section and
follow the tutorials or download the application and use it for Free* (see below).
The application can import the following file formats (*: only geometry, +: Some Additional options available):
- Polygon/Mesh Files: STL (Ascii & Binary), OBJ, PLY, OFF, 3DS
- Point Clouds (with normals)+: XYZ
- FE-Geometry: Nastran (.nas, .bdf, .dat), Patran (.out, .neu), ICEM (.poly), Ensight (.geo)
Export of polygon data is to STL (Ascii or Binary selectable), OBJ or STEP
The application contains a very basic option to edit data on a per-triangle basis which is useful for cases where individual
facets are corrupted or need changing.
Beyond this, there is a suite of automatic tools to perform common error corrections:
- Removal of invalid Facets and Duplicate Items
- Automatic Normal-Vector Correction
- Boundary-Boundary Stitching and Overlap Splitting
- Vertex Merging and Hole Closure Tools
- Some Automatic Repair tools and Surface Wraping
Data, such as facets and details, can also be altered on a per-body basis. The available tools consist of:
- Solidify/Thicken Tool
- Decimating/Simplify Tool
- Surface Remesher
- Triangle to Quadrilateral Mesh Conversions
- Surface Subdivision
- Surface Splitting (by connectivity or angle)
- Surface Grouping
- Boolean operations (Unite,Subtract, Intersect)
For the case where the imported mesh consists of clean data, describing mechanical and geometric entities, the application allows for a limited
recognition of the original shapes and therefore can greatly reduce the resultant file size. Ideally, this is for cases where the data defines things
such as simple bodies (blocks, holes, etc.) but it does allow for a certain amount of 'mixed' data.
The Reverse Engineering Tools are a very interesting group of capabilities that are otherwise not available to software packages in this price class.
The available tools fall into one of two classes:
- This generates intersection curves that can be exported as either DXF or STEP files (either located in space or projected to the X/Y plane. This is useful for
more mechanical designs where sketches are to be used to manually re-create the original data.
- The NURBS Surfacing tools allow for shapes that are generally more 'organic' to be converted to Smooth Surfaces (NURBS) that can be read and manipulated in most
CAD Applications. This allows data from 3D Scanners that would otherwise be impossible to import into CAD to be easily worked with. Both automatic and manual tools
exist to generate the definition for the underlying surface detail.
In general, when we encounter a need for a 'reverse engineering' application, either the Slicing or (NURBS) Surfacing come to mind and it
is this capability that most users are looking for.