8 Replies Latest reply on Mar 7, 2016 10:21 AM by Eric Demillard

    Importing very large stl files into solidworks

    Eric Demillard

      I have a model that was created in matlab that is a cosine fourier series in two dimensions where the amplitude and phase are random such that the surface is similar to a rough surface (like sandpaper). The surface is 8 in. X 8 in. (213.2 mm X 213.2 mm) with roughness elements that are 2 mm in amplitude with 2 mm wavelength. In other words, in order to adequately capture all features, the stl file that is outputted from matlab is 2,000,000 facets. I have been trying to figure out if there is a way to import this file into solidworks and convert it to a surface so that I can edit it and turn it into a plate with the surface on top of it. The plate will then be printed and placed in a wind tunnel so that it can be tested. Anyway, the native solidworks stl importer fails in this case because of the size. I have seen that there is a work around for this by first converting the stl to dxf with meshlab and then importing but I also believe that the size is too great to use this as well as my computer would keep crashing (others agree in How to import large STL files (or any mesh) ) The next thing I tried was Scanto3D where I outputted the x,y,z coordinates in matlab and imported them as a pointcloud into solidworks. Using the surface wizard there is two options, a guided creation and an automatic creation. The automatic creation crashes every time. I even tried with 32 GB of memory but I had no luck. The status bar at the bottom does not move. I tried the guided creation with B-Spline surface extraction but the surface extraction only allows between 4-20 lines in each direction, far below what I need. Does anyone know how I may be able to turn this mesh into a surface in solidworks? The problem will become even worse when I go to create the other two surfaces with roughness amplitudes of 1 mm and 0.5 mm where I can expect the number of facets to quadruple in each case to 8 million and 32 million. Any help would be greatly appreciated. The file is too large to upload but I have attached some images.

       

      Best,

       

      Eric

        • Re: Importing very large stl files into solidworks
          Paul Salvador

          Eric,.. can you pattern a wave... here's a example..

          sinewaves-zxys.png

          • Re: Importing very large stl files into solidworks
            Chris Dordoni

            Eric

            SolidWorks does have some ability to input formulas, so as Paul suggest you might be able to model your waves in SolidWorks.

             

            If you cannot represent your math in SolidWorks, then I think you will need to look at another tool to work with the STL file. SolidWorks is not a mesh modeler. Typically you would need to convert the triangulated model to surfaces, but due to the compexity, it sounds like Scanto3D is not working.

             

            If your end result is a 3d print, then you could look at a polygonal modeling or meshing application to generate a volume for printing from your surface. Meshlab might work, but I don't know how well it handles booleans with solids and surfaces. Blender is another possiblility.

            Netfabb Pro might also work.

             

            If you could generate a 16bit heightfield (greyscale value relative to height) it might be easier to work with. I know of one topography application Daylon Graphics Leveller that would save a solid STL for printing using a greyscale image.

              • Re: Importing very large stl files into solidworks
                Eric Demillard

                Thanks for the input, Chris. That sounds like a good plan though I am still relatively unfamiliar with all the modeling software out there and the advantages of each. I have used Meshlab and Netfab basic (open-source) but have not looked into all their features. I know I have been using the online Microsoft 3 D printer repair to repair my stl surfaces and that uses Netfab Pro so there are nice features available in the Pro version. At this point though we could purchase something if it will work because we need this capability.

                  • Re: Importing very large stl files into solidworks
                    Eric Demillard

                    Thank you very much for your help guys. I was able to achieve this for the 2 mm plate by using the Boolean modifier feature in blender. The result turned out pretty well although I have to mess around with aligning things in blender. I need to upgrade my memory but after that I believe I should be fine. I have been stuck on this for a while so I am very happy to have it over with.

                     

                    Best,

                    Eric