Export to STEP
Exporting to STEP directly from the Slicing Tool is a shortcut for a number of steps but comes at the cost of reduced control over the process.
In general, exporting to a STEP file directly should be weighted in light of this but can be a useful time saver.
The process only requires that a .stp file is identified and then proceeds to evaluate the available slices. If the slice data requires an update, those updates are performed and includes regeneration of the
boundary profile sorting for continuity and inside/outside orientation (during preview, outside curves are identified by blue lines and interior curves by red lines).
Once a suitable boundary has been defined, the surface is tessellated which, depending on the size, can take some time
(several seconds for large sizes). If the perimeter data contains faults such as gaps that exceed the tolerance value or
orientations that are inconsistent, the tessellation will still complete but may result in unexpected sections or overlaps.
Once all the slice/surface data has been refreshed, the application temporarily excludes all other bodies, performs a basic feature detection and then proceeds to write the data to file.
Once complete, the body states are restored based on their previous state.
Data exported this way allows for correct placement in 3D of multiple sections through a body that may be swept or similar. If the data is
to be used for a revolved/extruded section, use of the DXF format is perhaps better advised provided that the target CAD application can make use of this format.
Export to DXF
Writing the data to the AutoCAD Drawing Interchange Format (or Drawing Exchange Format) -DXF- consists of several steps. First, the data is collected based on the slices present. If only a single slice is defined, only one layer is available.
If multiple layers are collected, the application will either write each layer to a separate file or all to the same file with different layer names (see the Settings Page).
If the projection is allowed (i.e. all data to lie in the XY plane), then each slice is rotated to lie in the XY plane and projected onto it (this eliminates the need for a Z coordinate for each point). With this method, each location is rotated so that the plane normal aligns with the Z coordinate axis but the centers of the data are not otherwise shifted.
If the Line/Arc detection options are set, then for each layer of data, an attempt is made to consolidate straight line segments into one line (within the tolerance values) and arcs are formed based on whether they share a common center. Arcs and full Circles are obtained based on whether the start and end points line up.
Depending on the source of the data, the results of these steps may or may not be satisfactory. It is recommended that the steps are first attempted and the data reviewed for suitable output. If the result is not satisfactory, the conversion steps may be turned off, allowing a more raw output of the intersections to be captured in the file.
Using the Convert to Polygon
Instead of using either of the export options, it may also be beneficial to consider using the conversion to Polygon data. This allows the slice data to be re-integrated into the main flow of data and makes the other tools available to the surfaces generated by the slice (including repair tools and thickening).