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The 3DEXPERIENCE World 2021 SOLIDWORKS Top Ten List is now live. Within the Top Ten List you can share your enhancement ideas for SOLIDWORKS products. After ideas have been submitted, all community members will be asked to vote on their favorite ideas.


Check out the SOLIDWORKS forum posting ( for more information.

In a previous blog post I discussed the new 3D Textures functionality that was added to SOLIDWORKS 2019 ( see How to Use 3D Texture  in SOLIDWORKS ) . One thing that was discussed in that blog post was the fact that though you can use any type of image for 3D textures, what works best are greyscale heightmap images. With this in mind I wanted to share with you a post that was originally presented during the beta program for SOLIDWORKS 2019. This post explores one way that you can create greyscale heightmap images. Again thanks to my colleague Xiao Liu for his help producing this post and the video (


There are many software packages that can be utilized to generate grayscale heightmaps. Here we will use Blender, which is a free and open source 3D creation suite, to create grayscale heightmaps. An example will be described step-by-step to illustrate the generation process of a grayscle heightmap image.


Please note that this blog is not an advertisement for Blender and the DS SOLIDWORKS Co. doesn’t have any collaborations with Blender. However, I am very grateful to the Blender’s team for providing such a useful free tool. If you use Blender you may consider making a donation to Blender’s development fund.


The Outline for how to create the grayscale heightmaps:


  1. Generate a SOLIDWORKS solid body and save it as STL file
  2. Import the STL file into Blender
  3. Adjust the location of the 3D model in the Blender
  4. Adjust the orientation and location of the camera
  5. Generate grayscale heightmap using the node editor
  6. Generate a 3D model



Generate a 3D polyhedron model (Image 1) in SOLIDWORKS.


To have a proper orientation of the model after importing it into Blender, the bottom surface of the polyhedron should be located on the front plane in the SOLIDWORKS part file. Note that the 3D model needs to be saved as STL format or other formats which can be imported into Blender. Image 2 shows the resultant grayscale heightmap of this polyhedron.



Image 1. A SOLIDWORKS body


Image 2. A height map of of the SOLIDWORKS body


Importing the 3D model into Blender


Open Blender and follow the following steps:

File >> Import >> Stl(.stl) >> Change the directory to where the 3D body has been saved


Image 3. Process for import STL file into Blender


Adjusting the location of the 3D model in the Blender


  1. Right-click the 3D model and press Shift+Ctrl+Alt+C key to show the coordinates of the polyhedron’s geometric center
  2. Left-click the graphics area and press N key to open Transform window
  3. Move the geometric center of the model to the origin by adjusting Rotation and Location as shown in the following image


Image 4. The settings for relocated model


Relocate and setup the camera


  1. Left-click the camera in Outline and move the camera above the polyhedron model by changing the value of location and location (step 2 in the following image)
  2. Press 0 key to obtain the field of view of the camera (step 3)
  3. Click the Data tab and choose Orthographic for the lens and adjust the value for Orthographic Scale (step 4)
  4. Adjust the values in the Clipping to ensure the camera to capture the view of the entire model (step 5)

Note that with orthographic lens objects always appear at their actual size, regardless of distance. This means that parallel lines appear parallel and do not converge. For clipping interval, only objects within the limits are visible. Thus, users need to adjust the value of Clipping Start and End to have the entire model in the clipping interval.

5. Click the Render tab and Set the Resolution (The resolution of the final heightmap) as shown in step 6

Note that for the models with simple geometry appearance, the resolution of 512 x 512 pixels will be fine enough. For a model with many details, a heigher resolution setting is more suitable. However, a heigher resolution grayscale heightmap image will raise the computational cost of 3D texture generation.


Image 5. Process to setup the camera


Generate a grayscale heightmap using Node Editor


  1. Expand the bottom window and change the editor type to Node Editor
  2. Click the Composing and enable the Use Nodes
  3. Add Normalized node and Invert color node and link them
  4. Expand the Color Management in the Scence and change Display Device from sRGB to None
  5. Press F12 key, then the heightmap of mesh model will be generated as shown in Image 7.


Image 6. Node editor setting


Image 7. Height map for 3D model



Again, please watch the following video to see a demonstration of generating a grayschale heightmap for 3D Texture in SOLIDWORKS 2019:


Thank you,

-Xiao Liu

-Marlon Banta



Now that SOLIDWORKS 2019 SP0 has been released I wanted to repost a blog from the beta program that talks about the new 3D textures feature. This blog post was written by myself and my colleague Xiao Liu...


I wanted to share with you one video to review functionality added to SOLIDWORKS 2019 for the new 3D Texture feature. The video demonstrates how 3D textures operate within SOLIDWORKS 2019. The link to the video is: SOLIDWORKS 2019 3D Textures - YouTube


Frequently, users need to add repeating or a random array of geometric features to a model (e.g., dimples, knurls, bumps in the treads of shoes and the textured patterns on phone case). Modeling these repeating features can be challenging and time-consuming. SOLIDWORKS 2019  introduces a new feature called 3D Textures to solve this problem.

Image 1.png

Image 1. Adding 3D texturing to models


3D Texture in SOLIDWORKS 2019 allows users to convert 2D images to 3D geometries on the surface of SOLIDWORKS models. To generate a 3D texture, the 2D images must be mapped as a textural appearance using existing texture mapping functionality (Click here for details). Any types of images, mapped as textural appearances, can be used for creating 3D textures but grayscale height map images are preferred (look for a subsequent post from me on how to create greyscale height map images). In a grayscale height map image, the gray gradient includes the physical height information. Typically, the white color represents the maximum elevation and black represents zero elevation. Note that, currently, decals are not supported in 3D Texture.


Only one body can be 3D textured at a time and the resultant body is a graphics body.  Watertight graphics bodies are able to be 3D printed but they are limited on geometric editing. With this in mind, it is recommended that you add the 3D texture feature as the last feature in your part.


Note that the 3D texture feature is available in all licenses of SOLIDWORKS 2019.


The Outline for how to use 3D Texture:

  1. Apply a grayscale heightmap image, mapped as a textural appearance, onto the surface of a model (Image 2).

Image 2.png

Image 2. Model with the Applied Textural Apprearance

  1. Edit the settings in the 3D Texture property manager to create 3D features with accurate shape and smooth surface (A evolution progress is shown in the image 3)

Image 3.png

Image 3. Evolutionary process. (a) After Texture Offset Distance adjustment, (b) after Texture Refinement, (c) after Maximum Element Size editing.


  1. Pressing ok in the 3D Texture property manager will add the 3D texture geometry and convert the model to a graphics body (Image 4).


image 4.png

Image 4. The 3D Texture Feature

Several Grayscale heightmaps examples:


bulbble pattern.png

checkered knurl pattern.png

Bulbble Pattern

Checkered Knurl Pattern

cone pattern.png

flower pattern.png

Cone Pattern

Flower Pattern

honey comb.png

polyhedron pattern.png

Honey Comb

Polyhedron Pattern


Note that we have added an entire library of appearances with greyscale images perfect for 3D textures to the appearances task pane:

Again, the link to the youtube video is:


Thank you,


The Featured Content blog has moved to the New Tech Blog! Update your  bookmarks to the new address. You can now subscribe to the posts and get notified of any new activity. Check it out!





- Looking for more learning resources? Visit the SolidWorks Resource Center

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The interoperability between Adobe PDF, Illustrator and Photoshop files is important to Engineers and designers. Fortunately, SolidWorks has strived to improve compatiblity with these important design formats.


Adobe Illustrator is a particularly often used format for the creation of artwork, logos and product identification graphics. These elements are often needed to be represented in the 3D design of the product and therefore the product designer needs away convenient way to use artwork generated by the art department in engineering.


After the introduction of import of AI files in 2007, it was known that there were still quality issues that remained. For the development of the 2010 version, SolidWorks developers, with the guidance of Product Defiinition Specialist Utpal Kumar, set out to dramatically improve the quality of AI files that are opened in SolidWorks.


After investigation into our current technology (using a 3rd party importer technology) and the demands of customer cases on-hand, it became clear that the only way that SolidWorks would be able to insure quality would be to have AI running in the background and doing the conversion from it while SolidWorks opens the AI file. So starting with the 2010 version. Adobe Illustrator version CS3 or later of Illustrator must be installed on your system.


Some of the issues that have been addressed between the old and new AI importer are the inability to Import to sketches, Imports as blank sketch, Missing entities, Distorted entities and the success rate to less than 50% of cases (as per user experience.) Below illustrates some of these improvements.




Some additonal tips for using Illustrator files with SolidWorks:


  • It is known that some fonts in Illustrator will not translate correctly from Illustrator to SolidWorks. In the case where you are using AI files with fonts, first convert them to outlines first before saving and opening in SolidWorks.
  • If you do not have AI, then have the sender save it as a SW file first if they have SW. It this type of transfer is done on a regular basis, then the $400 investment of a seat of AI would be well worth getting.
  • If the AI file is coming from MAC, especially older AI versions and it does not transfer into SW, then open up the AI file on a WIN based PC and save.
Keri Prasky

SolidWorks Part Reviewer

Posted by Keri Prasky Nov 28, 2011

With SolidWorks 2012 SP01 there is a new add-in, the SolidWorks Part Reviewer. For the 2012 release, the primary focus is to leverage this as a learning tool to help users walk through a part and see how it was created and view comments added to the part.  


General Information and Guidelines:


  1. SolidWorks will be posting examples for our Subscription service customers. These files are available within the SolidWorks Part Reviewer example files page. 
  2. For SW 2012, this is a learning tool (not a training tool).  We will be posting different types of part models. By loading these files in SolidWorks 2012 SP01 or later, you can learn some tips and tricks, design intent lessons, or even how to create interesting features.  Some of the models we plan to post will highlight areas such as; Sheet metal, Weldments, Surface and advanced features, Mold features, Functional piping/electrical parts, common consumer products, etc.
  3. We plan on introducing new examples every 2-3 weeks – so check back often!
  4. We we welcome any feedback you have on the Part Reviewer, or if you want specific examples added, please let me know.



About the SolidWorks Part Reviewer  

SolidWorks Part Reviewer example files

Here is a little tip on how to split parts in half or quarts (or more) very quickly. I discovered this not too long ago and I find it very useful.


Launch the Symmetry Check from the Tools menu. There, you will find an option, Automatic Symmetry Split. This functionality will automatically reduce a part to its smallest repeatable symmetrical body. It DOES NOT CARE about the model orientation so it’s great working with imported models without the need to create symmetry planes and such. It’s also especially useful when you run analyses using the SolidWorks Simulation software to reduce your solving time to a minimum.


Symmetry Split.png

Watch a video recording, recorded by Value Added Reseller Javelin Technologies here:


Have fun!

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