Wondering What a Term Means? We've Got You Covered.

3D Toolkit

A 3D toolkit -- or 3D software development kit -- is a set of software components you can use to develop 3D visualization and design applications.

3D ACIS Modeler

ACIS is a 3D geometric modeling kernel developed in-house by Spatial. It’s used by several software developers in industries such as CAD, CAE, engineering and construction, 3D animation, and shipbuilding.

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BS 1192

BS 1192 is a method to manage the production, distribution, and quality of construction information. It deploys a template for common naming conventions and a collaborative approach for use in architecture, engineering, and construction.


BREP Model example-1

B-Rep, an abbreviation for boundary representation, is a concept in solid modeling and computer-aided design for representing shapes within specific limits. A solid is, therefore, represented as an entire collection of surface elements within the boundary of solid and non-solid objects.

Boundary representation consists of two parts: topology and geometry.

3DM File


A 3DM file is an open source file format which is used for 3D graphics software. Developed by the openNURBS initiative, 3DM files are inherently classified as computer-aided design (CAD) files as they can be processed by several CAD applications.

3DM files contain graphics, metadata details, and other formatting attributes such as surface, points, and curve information. Some of the software that will open, convert, or process 3DM files include Rhinoceros, SAP VEViewer, Moment of Inspiration, and Right Hemisphere Deep View.



CAD, also known as computer aided design, is the process of using computers to create, modify, and optimize product design.

This helps facilitate the manufacturing process as it builds detailed diagrams of a product’s materials, tolerances, and dimensions which can then be used in a practical context.

CAD reduces both product development costs and time to market.

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CAD Associativity

CAD associativity is the ability to maintain links to the original CAD model such that any design updates can be automatically merged in.


CAD Import

Import CAD designed in any of the popular systems like CATIA, SolidWorks, Creo etc. without the need to license any of these software.

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CAD File Format


Computer-aided design (CAD) files contain both 2D or 3D designs. They’re used to create models or architecture plans. 2D CAD files are referred to as drawings, while 3D files are often called parts or assemblies.

CAD file formats include but are not limited to the following:

  • .123 - PCB 123 circuit board design
  • .123C - Autodesk 123C drawing
  • .123D - Autodesk 123D drawing
  • .2D - VersaCAD 2D drawing file
  • .3DC - RoboCell Cell Setup File

CAD Morphing

The ability to morph BRep models, given a vector field of deformation. Based on the Smooth Displacement Adjustment method (SDA).



CAE, or computer-aided engineering, refers to the entire product engineering process from design to planning the eventual manufacturing.

CAE allows designers and engineers perform tests and simulate the physical properties of the eventual product without needing an actual, real-world prototype.

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COBie BIM Files

COBie -- short for Construction Operations Building Information Exchange -- is a widely used information exchange standard. It is used to provide facility managers with information about equipment and materials on-site.

For example, if used for a building project, COBie BIM includes information about the construction materials of the building, its internal structures, and its systems (e.g. HVAC). Facility managers can use that information to know when and how to maintain the building and its components.

Direct Editing

One-step transformations of CAD faces as well that eliminates the complexity of dealing with intricate sequence of design features.

DWG File

Native to AutoCAD, Autodesk’s computer-aided design (CAD) suite, DWG is both a file format and a CAD operating environment. Released in 1982, DWG files are among the most popular and widely utilized CAD file formats among engineers and designers in almost every industry.

DWG files can store 2D and 3D design data and metadata. Besides AutoCAD, DWG files can also be opened in IntelliCAD, Open Design Alliance applications, and Caddie.


extrusion fabrication process

Extrusion is used to fabricate parts from fluoropolymers. This process usually results in a product that’s semi-finished and requires additional work before it’s ready.

The main advantages of extrusion are that it’s able to create complex cross-sections and form parts that have an excellent surface finish.

Clash Detection

A ‘clash’ is the result of two elements in your design taking up the same space. In Building Information Modeling (BIM), Clash Detection is the technique of identifying if -- and where or how -- two parts of the building (e.g., plumbing, walls, etc) are interfering with one another.

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Faceting is the process of removing parts of a polygon, but without resulting in new vertices.

Finite Element Method

The Finite Element Method (FEM) is a method of conducting a Finite Element Analysis (FEA) of a physical phenomenon. FEM can be used for studying heat transfer, mass transport, fluid flow, electromagnetic potential, and structural integrity. It works by breaking up a model into smaller bits and, in turn, running an algorithm for strength, stretch, and other attributes.

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Geometric Modeling Kernel

A geometric modeling kernel is a 3D modeling component found in modeling software, such as computer-aided design (CAD). 

You can think of a geometric kernel, or “solid modeling kernel,” as the core of a CAD system. Without the kernel, it would not be possible to produce the images you see on the screen. 

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How to Open IGES File in AutoCAD

If you’re having difficulties opening an IGES file in AutoCAD, follow these 5 simple steps:

  1. Select the “Insert” tab, followed by the “Import” panel, then select “Import.”
  2. Then select “IGES” (or .igs, .iges) 
  3. You can then enter in the name of the .iges file in “File Name”, or you can find and select the one you want to import manually.
  4. Open the file

Additional Notes:

  • If the prompt takes longer than 5sec, your import will be done as a background process
  • A notification bubble shows up when the prompt is completed
  • You can select the file within the notification bubble - it will then be imported into your current drawing.
  • In the event that you close the notification accidentally, right-click the import icon located in the status bar, and select “Insert”

With help on issues related to .iges file extensions in AutoCAD contact Spatial today, or go here for more information.

How to Open STP File in AutoCAD

In order to open a stp file in AutoCAD you’ll need to follow a 3 step process; first, select the “Insert Tab” function, followed by “Import Panel”, and then find the STP file. Second, select the STP file you’d like to import into AutoCAD. Lastly, click to open the file.

Some common issues you may encounter when trying to open a stp file in AutoCAD are as follows:

  • Computer lacks resources to open the file
  • Corrupt file
  • Repair File
  • Improperly installed host application
  • Fix host application errors

For more information on data translation issues and solutions, contact us today or go here.

How to Repair STL Files

When .stl files are imported into a 3D application it can result in errors such as misaligned edges, holes in the model, and floating parts which do not properly align with what the original model looked like. These errors can be avoided by using a 3D translation tool like Spatial’s 3D Interop.

Typically, developers of the 3D application will need to implement an STL repair workflow that consists of auto-repairing, separating shells, closing holes and bridging gaps in the model, solving for overlaps, getting rid of double faces, stitching open edges, deleting/creating triangles, remeshing, and finally, exporting the mesh. This can be done using an STL repair software toolkit.

How to View 3D XML File Format

The .3dxml zipped file type can be viewed using Dassault Systemes proprietary software 3D XML viewer. You can visit the developers website in order to download the 3DXML player.

You can download the free online 3dxml viewer, which is a standalone application, from their website - the 3D XML viewer is available for Windows platform only, as OSX is no longer supported. .3dxml file formats can be viewed using your web browser, both online and offline.

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Hybrid Modeling

In computer-aided design (CAD), hybrid modelling is a method of using different modeling techniques (with different rulesets) in the same workflow.

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IFC is short for International Foundation Class and files using the IFC file format are Building Information Modelling (BIM) files.

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IGES, or the Initial Graphics Exchange Specification, is a vendor-agnostic file format which facilitates the digital exchange and transfer of information among computer-aided design (CAD) systems.

CAD users can leverage IGES to exchange product data models with one another. These can be viewed in the form of circuit diagrams, wireframes, freeform surfaces, or solid modeling representations. The specification was first developed by the U.S. National Bureau of Standards in January 1980.

JT File


The Jupiter Tessellation (JT) is a 3D data format which corresponds to an ISO standard. It is used for product visualization, collaboration, CAD data exchange, and for long-term data retention. It contains a combination of approximate data, boundary representation surfaces, product and manufacturing information, and metadata which is extrapolated from a native CAD system or inserted by a product data management system.



Lofting is a command in CAD software that makes complex and organic shaped geometries. It’s developed from planar sections spaced alongside an approximate path.


Meshing -- or mesh generation -- is the process of generating polygonal or polyhedral mesh (i.e., the shape of the polygon/polyhedral is made up of multiple edges, faces and vertices).

Meshing is often used in software-based simulation for Finite Element Analysis (FEA) and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD).

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NWD is a computer-aided design (CAD) file developed by Navisworks. Files saved in the NWD file format are used to view 3D models, such as a building or structural designs. Like BIM suites, NWD files can also be used for analysis, such as clash detection and others.



Parasolid is a type of geometric modeling kernel that allows users to create and edit models. These kernels can be licensed by other companies to use in their 3D computer graphics software products.

The capabilities of Parasolid include advanced surfacing, thickening and hollowing, blending and filleting and sheet modeling. It also provides wireframe and drafting, tessellation and model data inquiries. Parasolid files cannot communicate and migrate 2D data such as lines and arcs and therefore only work with 3D solids and surface data.

Part File Format


The Part file format is a file created as a result of a partial download i.e. where the download hasn’t finished completely. It’s created so that the file-sharing program can store incoming data. It’s possible to restart the download at a later time using the same program which initially sent the request. Some Part files, particularly audio or video files, can be renamed and used by specific media players to only play the part that has been downloaded.

Product Structure Modeling

product structure modeling in manufacturing

Product structure modeling lists all the components needed to develop or manufacture a certain product, also known as a bill of materials.

This is a critical record that lists all the raw materials, components, parts, and specific quantities of each to manufacture a product.

Product structure modeling works well with configurable products where changing one part can have an impact on other models.

Revit File Format


‘Revit’ is the name of Autodesk’s Building Information Modeling (BIM) software and its file format (rvt). Revit is a popular BIM file format in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industry for designing and constructing buildings and other structures.

Besides native Revit file formats, the Revit software also supports common computer-aided design (CAD) formats as well, such as DGN, SAT, DXF, DWF, and others.

In addition to modeling and designing buildings, Revit can also be used to analyze its meta-data for analysis, clash coordination, and other tasks.

Rhino File Format


Rhino, or Rhino3D, is a 3D computer graphics and computer-aided design (CAD) application software that was originally developed by Robert McNeel & Associates in 1980. It is based on the NURBS mathematical model which aims to produce mathematically precise representations of curves and freeform surfaces in computer graphics.

Rhino is compatible with the following files:

  • 3DM save
  • 3DS import
  • DWG/DXF import
  • DWG/DXF export
  • FBX export
  • IGES export
  • KML export

SAT File Format


The SAT file extension stores three-dimensional geometry information within a standard text file format. It’s used to exchange 3D data between multiple systems and is saved in Spatial’s ACIS solid modeling format.

SAT files are used in the computer-aided design industries, as well as shipbuilding, 3D animation, computer-aided engineering, and more.

Semantic PMI Import

Extraction of semantic information from PMI (product manufacturing information) or manufacturing annotations like geometric dimensions, tolerances, symbolic thread features etc.

Simulation Modeling Process

simulation modeling process

Simulation is a type of modeling process and helps you create and analyze a digital prototype to figure out how a physical model would operate in the real world. Simulation modeling helps both designers and engineers understand how a part could potentially fail, the conditions that might make this a reality, and the maximum load it can withstand.

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Solid Modeling

Solid Modeling is the computer modeling of 3D solid objects. The objective of Solid Modeling is to ensure that every surface is geometrically correct.

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SOLIDWORKS Model Based Definition 


The Solidworks Model Based Definition is used with 3D design software to communicate product and manufacturing information in 3D without the need for clunky and time-consuming 2D manual drawing processes. It’s designed to reduce manufacturing errors, eliminate potential design problems, and lower procurement costs. Solidworks Model Based Definition is designed to comply with industry standards such as ASME Y 14.41, ISO 16792, DIN ISO 16792, and GB/T 24734.



Developed by Dassault Systèmes, SolidWorks is a solid modeling computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided engineering (CAE) program that primarily runs on Windows.

In 2013, more than two million engineers and designers spanning 165,000 companies used SolidWorks.

The software is able to import the following types of files:

  • Drawing Exchange Format (.dxf)
  • Drawing (.dwg)
  • Adobe Photoshop (.psd)
  • Adobe Illustrator (.ai)
  • Parasolid (.x_t)
  • STEP (.stp)
  • ACIS (.sat)
  • IGES (.igs, .iges)



With the SUBTRACT function in CAD software, it’s possible to create a 2D region object by subtracting one set of existing ones from another, overlapping set.

Surface Modeling

Surface Modeling is the method of showing or presenting solid objects. The process requires you to convert between different 3D modeling types, such as converting the 3D object to show procedural surfaces, validate imperfections, and apply smoothness. While more complex than Wireframe Modeling, Surface Modeling is easier to achieve than Solid Modeling.

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Sweep is a command in CAD software that allows you to create a 3D solid or 3D surface by ‘sweeping’ a 2D object along an open or closed path.

What is a 3D XML File Format Used For?

3D XML format is a proprietary zip archive file developed and supported by Dassault Systemes - it contains 3D representation files (like surface data, or a mesh) and a BOM file that can be viewed using a 3D XML player from 3DVIA.

The mesh contains information on faces, edges and vertices - as well as topological data - that can be represented as a surface once loaded using the 3D XML viewer. 3D XML files can also be opened in WinZip when renamed from .3dxml to .zip.

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What is a Catpart File Extension?

The .catpart file extension was created by the 3D CAD manufacturing application called CATIA V5 - catpart (or “CATPart”) is used to store part models and includes 3D geometrical and structural data. These catpart files can also be combined with additional parts and info in order to create a catproduct assembly file.

Catpart files are most commonly used to store design information such as machine parts, brackets and casings, and additional equipment pieces.

With help on issues related to .catpart file extensions contact Spatial today, or go here for more information.

What is an IGES File?

A .iges file format is used to transfer two-dimensional or three-dimensional data for a design between CAD software, and can be saved as IGES or a .IGS file. This file type most commonly contains information about a model's surface - but may also house data such as the wireframe and/or solid model, as well as circuit information. Like other file types, IGES files are in ASCII format on the Initial Graphics Exchange Specification standard.

Originally designed and used by the USAF (United States Air Force) in the 1970s for manufacturing aerospace parts, IGES format is now used in many other industries, such as machinery and automotive. Over the years, however, IGES has been replaced by more efficient file formats like .stp and Parasolid - as such, its use has significantly declined since the late 1990s.

With help on issues related to .iges file extensions contact Spatial today, or go here for more information.

What is an STL File?

The .stl is a file extension that is usually created within a CAD environment and is designed to store information for 3D models. It is a simple collection of triangles representing the end product of the modeling process and is designed to show only surface attributes of the object without color, texture and other elements.

The STL file is the most commonly used file format for 3D printing applications and can be used to communicate with 3d printing hardware (when coupled with a slicer). An .stl file can be used for CAD manufacturing, rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing as well.

What is an STP File?

A .stp file extension contains 3D data about an object saved in the Standard for the Exchange of Product Data format, or STEP. These stp files are supported by several mechanical design programs, like Fusion 360 and TurboCAD, and are saved as text in ASCII format. 

STP file types are most commonly used for transferring three-dimensional data between CAD and CAM programs, with many companies using STP files in order to design and create pricing models, and for manufacturing parts.

Wireframe Modeling


Wireframe modeling is the least complicated method for rendering objects in computer-aided design.

In this particular technique, all surfaces are visibly outlined including internal components that might have otherwise been hidden from view.

Like surface and solid modeling, wireframe modeling allows users to visualize the underlying design structure of 3D models.

WRL File Format


WRL files are an extension of the Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML) format . VRML file types enable browser plugins to display virtual reality environments. The term VRML is often referred to as “worlds” or vrml world file - which is also what WRL actually stands for.

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X_T File Format


X_T file extensions are referred to as both Parasolid Model Part files or modeller transmit files. They’re essentially text-based and used with different CAD programs that read them to identify the geometry, color, and other details of 3D models.

It’s possible to open X_T files with free text editors like Windows Notepad, but this will only give you header data such as the date the file was created and other information about the model. You won’t be able to extract specific information the way CAD software does.