Have you ever received a CAD file from a colleague or downloaded one from the internet but couldn’t open it on Fusion 360? Maybe you even tried to import it into another software, but it just wouldn’t work. This kind of unexpected snag can impede your workflow and cause you frustration, especially if you’re under a tight deadline. Fortunately, with a good understanding of the various Fusion 360 file types and their properties, you can avoid such headaches and enjoy smooth collaboration with your team.
Understanding the interoperability between file types like .f3d, .obj, and .ipt can be incredibly useful for ensuring the seamless transfer of CAD data between different software programs. In today’s article, we’ll dive into the nitty-gritty of Fusion 360 file types, including the differences between them, and how they impact interoperability between different software applications.
Most Commonly Used Fusion 360 File Types
Continue reading for an in-depth look at the file types users are most likely to encounter.
Fusion 360 (.f3d, .f3z) Files
Fusion 360 uses .f3d files as a proprietary file type for storing CAD models. These files serve as the primary file format for Fusion 360 and include all the necessary information to recreate a CAD model, such as design history and features.
Fusion 360’s interoperability feature allows users to export .f3d files to other file types, such as STEP or SAT, which can be opened in other CAD/CAM programs. Furthermore, Fusion 360’s direct upload and sharing capabilities enable users to collaborate effortlessly with other Fusion 360 users.
The .f3z file extension represents a compressed file format that Fusion 360 utilizes. These files serve as copies of Fusion 360 designs that are convenient for sharing with others or storing for backup purposes.
Saving a design as an .f3z file involves compressing the file to reduce its size, making it more manageable to transfer over the internet or store on a hard drive. This format is particularly useful for large designs that would take a long time to upload or download in their original uncompressed format.
Autodesk Inventor (.ipt, .iam) Files
Autodesk Inventor is another popular CAD software program that specializes in mechanical designs. The .ipt (part) or .iam (assembly) formats store parametric solid models created within Inventor up until version 2021 which means newer versions may require exporting as other formats before importing into fusion.
They are some of the most common and are widely used for creating 3D models in the Autodesk ecosystem. With these files, you can create complex geometries and shapes that are often difficult to create with other file types. For instance, if you’re creating a mechanical part with lots of curves and intricate details, you’re better off exporting it in .ipt format for later use in Fusion 360.
STL Files (.stl)
The STL (STereoLithography) file format is primarily used for 3D printing and rapid prototyping. It stores a 3D model as a series of triangular facets, which a 3D printer uses to create a physical model. Fusion 360 supports the STL file format and allows for its exportation from most CAD software packages.
It’s good to note that STL files solely contain geometry data of the model and lack additional information such as material properties or annotations.
STEP Files (.ste, .step, .stp)
STEP (Standard for the Exchange of Product model data) files serve as a neutral CAD file format extensively utilized to share 3D models between different software packages. Fusion 360 supports the STEP file format and facilitates its exportation from most CAD software packages. The STEP file format stores the geometry of the model, as well as additional data such as material properties, textures, and annotations.
Being a neutral file format, they can be used with many different CAD/CAM programs. For example, if you’re using Fusion 360, but your collaborator is using SOLIDWORKS, a STEP file can help you share the 3D model data with ease.
OBJ (.obj) File Type
Another commonly used Fusion 360 file type is the OBJ (.obj) file. Wavefront Technologies initially developed the OBJ (Object) file type, which has now become an industry standard in computer graphics. In CAD and 3D modeling, OBJ files serve the purpose of transferring 3D geometry between different programs.
It stores polygonal mesh data which includes vertices, edges and faces of an object’s geometry as well as texture maps if applicable. Many different programs can open and edit these files, making them a versatile option for sharing 3D models.
SOLIDWORKS part (.sldprt) files are some of the most commonly used file types in the mechanical engineering industry. These files can contain complex parts with precise measurements and intricate features. They find usage in various applications, from designing small mechanical components to large-scale machinery.
If you’re working on a mechanical project, chances are good that you’ll encounter SOLIDWORKS files at some point. Whether you’re a designer, engineer, or manufacturer, SOLIDWORKS files can help you create the precise parts and components you need to bring your projects to life.
DXF Files (.dxf)
DXF (Drawing Interchange Format) serves as a file format utilized for exchanging data between different CAD programs. Most CAD software can effortlessly read DXF files, which contain 2D and 3D design data.
Design data is often transferred between different software programs or versions using DXF format. DXF files include editable data and can incorporate various types of data such as lines, arcs, circles, and text. DXF files can also contain additional information such as layer names and color codes.
The DXF file format was first introduced by AutoCAD in 1982 and has since become an industry-standard format for exchanging design data. DXF files offer versatility for design collaboration as they can be imported and exported by many CAD programs.
One potential downside to using DXF files is that they may not always preserve all of the information from the original design, such as very complex curves or splines. However, for simple 2D designs, DXF files can be an efficient and reliable method for transferring design data between different software programs.
Other Fusion 360 File Types
Explore additional file types utilized in Fusion 360.
123D File (.123dx)
Autodesk’s 123D suite of design software generates 123D files, which comprise a collection of file formats applicable for 3D printing, CNC milling applications, and other digital fabrication projects.
The .123dx file format stores data such as geometry, textures, lighting information, and more. It is compatible with most 3D printers and can be exported to other formats such as STL or OBJ.
Autodesk Alias (.wire)
Professionals use Autodesk Alias, a powerful industrial design software, to develop complex and high-quality 3D models. Autodesk Alias employs Alias Wire files, also referred to as .wire files, which are a proprietary file format that stores wireframe data.
Wireframe data is a visual representation of a 3D model’s structure, without the surface or texture information. Alias wire files contain information about the curves and surfaces of a 3D model. This makes them useful for designers to visualize and refine their designs.
Alias wire files also commonly find usage in reverse engineering. 3D scanning technologies capture the physical dimensions of an object to create a 3D model. It stores data such as curves, surfaces, meshes, solids, and more. This allows designers to create new products based on existing designs, or make modifications to existing products.
IGES Files (.ige, .iges, .igs)
The Initial Graphics Exchange Specification (IGES) specifies a file format for exchanging 2D and 3D data between CAD/CAM systems. Designers and engineers often utilize IGES files to generate precise models of complex objects, and various CAD/CAM programs can read them.
Should you happen to collaborate with someone who’s using a different CAD/CAM program than you are, an IGES file may be the best way to transfer CAD files if either of you is using Fusion 360 or other programs.
CATIA V5 Files (.CATProduct, .CATPart)
CATIA V5 is a popular CAD software package that the aerospace, automotive, and manufacturing industries widely use. Engineers typically use the files to create complex parts and assemblies with precise measurements and detailed features. Fusion 360 can import CATIA V5 files, including CATPart (part files) and CATProduct (assembly files), to facilitate collaboration with partners who use CATIA V5.
Parasolid (.x_b, .x_t)
If you’re working on a project that requires complex geometric shapes, you may work with Parasolid files at some point. Parasolid is a 3D geometric modeling kernel used in many different CAD/CAM programs. It allows users to create parts and assemblies with precise measurements and intricate features.
Parasolid files save data in either .x_b or .x_t format, which many different CAD/CAM programs, including Fusion 360, can read.
Pro/ENGINEER Granite Files (.g) and Pro/ENGINEER Neutral Files (.neu)
Pro/ENGINEER generates these file types to create 3D models and assemblies. While Fusion 360 can import them, compatibility issues can make the process challenging and may require extensive rework.
Pro/ENGINEER and Creo Parametric Files (.asm, .prt)
Pro/ENGINEER and Creo Parametric software utilize these file types for creating 3D models and assemblies. Fusion 360 can import both assembly and part files, allowing users to work on them without the need for additional software.
AutoCAD DWG Files (.dwg)
This is a popular vector graphics format developed by Autodesk for use in its AutoCAD software suite. It stores data such as lines, arcs, circles, text objects, blocks (groups of objects), layers (colors), dimensions (sizes), etc., making it ideal for 2D drawings and designs.
SAT/SMT Files (.sab, .sat, .smb, .smt)
These file types are associated with the ACIS kernel, which is used by several CAD software packages including SolidWorks, AutoCAD, and Fusion 360. Any software that supports the ACIS format can export the 3D geometry contained in the SAT/SMT files. These file types include .sab, .sat, .smb, and .smt.
One of the benefits of SAT/SMT files is that they can store both solid and surface models. This makes them a versatile option for a wide range of applications. Their smaller size, compared to other file formats, makes them ideal for sharing over the internet or via email.
Some software may have difficulty reading complex or detailed models stored in these file types. As such, it’s always a good idea to confirm compatibility with the intended software before using SAT/SMT files for data transfer or storage. Do note that Fusion 360 can only support up to ACIS version 7.
SOLIDWORKS (.asm, .sldasm) File Types
If you’re working with SOLIDWORKS, you’ll likely come across two assembly file types — .asm and .sldasm. SOLIDWORKS uses the .asm file type for assemblies created within it, while assemblies imported from other CAD software packages use the .sldasm file type. Both file types contain information about the individual parts in the assembly, as well as how they fit together to create the final product.
SketchUp Files (.skp)
SketchUp is a popular 3D modeling software that allows users to create intricate designs and models for for architectural and interior design projects. Fusion 360 supports the SketchUp file format and allows importing it. However, do note that SketchUp files can only be imported as SVG, DWG, or DXF files.
Autodesk owns the proprietary file format, FBX (*.fbx), originally developed by Kaydara. The entertainment industry commonly uses this format to create 3D models, animations, and game assets. Fusion 360 does support importing FBX files, making it easier to work with models created in other software or to incorporate animations into your design projects.
Understanding the different file types in Fusion 360 is essential for seamless collaboration and an efficient workflow. With this new knowledge, you can easily transfer 3D models between different software programs more easily, assured of compatibility.
Selecting the right file type for your project can also help optimize designs for manufacturing, reduce file size for sharing, and ensure the accuracy of dimensions and features. Whether you’re a hobbyist, student, or professional, having a good grip on the various Fusion 360 file types will help you achieve your design goals with ease.