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How to convert .stl file to a solidworks modifiable one?

By Federico Braschi on 25 Jul 11:46 3 answers 83 views 0 comments

I have downloaded from grabcad library the file added below.
It is the batmobile tumbler from the movie batman begins uploaded by Gustavo Mirra in .obj format.
To open this file with solidworks 2016 i have converted it in .stl format but in this way i cannot modify the model.
My goal would be to obtain a modifiable file to us the function "sheet metal" to create a project for the bodyworks of the car and design inside it a frame.
Who knows how to obtain this?

3 answers

  • FredSWUG
    FredSWUG 24 days ago

    Short answer is "No, it does not work that way".
    You've described the holy grail of CAD systems. How to perfectly translate geometry between mesh and solid/surface models.

    The only way to get this to work as a sheet metal part in solidworks will be to remodel it step by step, piece by piece.
    You could use the stl file as a guide beneath the solidworks model, but solidworks has a lot of limitations when dealing with stl files. Though I think it was the 2016 or 2017 release that made some improvements in that department.

    If the goal is to make a frame inside the car, I'd skip the sheet metal part of the process, unless you also need flat patterns of the body. But, cars usually involve compound curves, and sheet metal will not flatten those.

    There are some dedicated programs like Design-X, and Geomagics which will help convert STL to surface data, but the result is not usually what is desired. It "works", but the surfaces patches make no sense, Looking at the resulting surface patches is more like a camouflage pattern, than anything else.

  • Federico Braschi
    Federico Braschi 24 days ago

    Thank you Fred,

    Yes, with solidworks i have no way to work on a .stl file. Design it step by step would be an extreme venture...at least for me!!!

    To design the frame inside i will convert the file in .step, i think it will be easier to find the limit of the inside space.

    With the file converted in .step what is the best way to have a pattern of the bodywork? For example in the pic i have highlighted how should be one pattern to cut and bend from one piece

  • FredSWUG
    FredSWUG 23 days ago

    I don't think saving an STL file as a step file will help with much. It will still be a model made up of thousands of triangles.
    To get a "better" step file, the stl file would need to be run through a program so that surfaces are formed over the parts. This will make a surface, or solid model. It will have a really odd looking mesh of surfaces, but at least it will be a smooth model without facets.

    Meshlab is a free program, and might have that functionality. I'm not sure though.

    If my goal were to make the outlined portion of the car, I'd trim, or cut away the remaining 95% of the model. All of that extra mesh data in the background is just going to make everything go slowly.
    After that, it looks pretty straight forward to generate a few reference planes, and sketch the profiles needed, extrude them, then cut away the unwanted pieces. The final step is adding details like seams and hardware.

    The process used to make the model will be directly related to what the end goal is. If you plan to produce this from sheet metal, and require a flat pattern, then it may be easiest to create it as a sheet metal part right from the beginning.
    SolidWorks will convert "normal" parts into sheet metal parts, but only if it is designed properly. It needs a constant thickness, and bends which don't curve in more than one direction. A lot of thinking goes into maintaining these rules if you are not a "sheet metal guy". Building it as a sheet metal part will be "harder" as you'll have a limited tool set, but the end result will unfold.

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