Glossary - NWD File Format

NWD File

NWD FILE Extension | .nwd file type / format

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 building or structural designs. Like BIM suites, NWD files can also be used for analysis, such as clash detection and others.


What is an NWD File Format?

An NWD (Navisworks Document File or .nwd file) file is a data file used by the Autodesk Navisworks software used in 3D modeling to create or edit designs. Since NWD file format is a proprietary file type, you can only open and view .nwd files in the Navisworks suite.

An NWD file extension is a 3D model of an object that can be viewed by other programs on the internet or on another user's computer. This file contains many different types of data, including:

An NWD file should not be confused with an NWC file, which is a compressed version of the NWD file type, or the NWF file which is used to index the model files used by the project.


Common Problems Users Face Opening the .NWD File Extension

Though NWD extension files are native to Autodesk Navisworks, there are some problems users can experience when trying to open them. Some common problems include:

  • Incorrect file extension - Navisworks will not be able to open the file if the file extension has been changed.
  • Incompatible file type - .nwd file types can only be opened by Autodesk Navisworks.
  • NWD files created with old Navisworks software - NWD files made by Autodesk Navisworks version 5 and above can be opened with the latest version of Autodesk Navisworks. Older versions can still open NWD files, but a plug-in called "Autodesk Object Enabler" needs to be installed. This plug-in will allow older versions of the software to read files saved by more recent versions.
  • Trouble opening a file on a network - Users can experience problems opening NWD files when they are in a network environment since the paths might not be 100% correct.
  • Exporting NWD files - NWD files can also have problems being exported, especially if they are larger files. You also cannot export files with Navisworks Freedom.


Open .NWD Files in Programs Other than Autodesk Navisworks

NWD File Extension

Autodesk Navisworks is predominantly a design review package rather than a 3D modeling software. It allows users to render, navigate, combine, and perform simulations on 3D models rather than create or modify them.

It’s much more likely that your NWD file was exported (or created) using another 3D CAD/CAM program, such as  AutoCAD, MicroStation, or Autodesk Revit. To open the 3D model contained in an NWD file, you will need to:

  1. Locate the original 3D model file (which may be saved with the file extension .3ds, .stp, .stl, etc.)
  2. Open it with your 3D CAD/CAM program or a dedicated CAD/CAM converter
  3. Export the 3D model to a file format that can be read by your software


Make Importing and Exporting 3D Files Seamless With 3D InterOp

There are a plethora of 3D CAD/CAM programs available, most of which output natively to proprietary file types compatible only with software from that developer. This can significantly slow down the workflow by causing version control issues, conversion errors, loss of metadata, and more. 

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