Glossary - What is an STP File?

What is an STP File

What is an STP File?

STEP (or STP) is a popular file format used to store and transfer 3D and 2D geometry models, parts, and design data. 

It is a widely-used file format, supported by popular computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) and computer-aided design (CAD) software. STP files offer high fidelity and interoperability, potentially easing design workflows.


What is an .STP File Used For?

STP CAD files are most commonly used for transferring 3-dimensional data between CAD and CAM programs, with many companies using STP files to design and create pricing models, and for manufacturing parts.


What Programs Open STP Files?

Opening an STP file requires 3D modeling software that supports the STEP file format or an STP viewer. Some popular software programs that can open an STP file are:

  • Autodesk Fusion 360
  • Dassault Systemes CATIA
  • Dassault Systemes SolidWorks
  • Siemens Solid Edge
  • IMSI TurboCAD
  • Kubotek KeyCreator
  • FreeCAD
  • ABViewer
  • ShareCAD
  • eMachineShop


How to Open an STP File in Your Program?

To open or view the contents of an STP file, you will need to import it into a program that can read and translate the file into a native format. 

Note that every application is different and you should check the developer’s website for instructions for opening .stp files. Click here for instructions on how to view STP files in AutoCAD.

Learn below how to read STP files, import and export files, and the easiest ways for viewing .stp files whether your program natively supports the STP extension or not.


What Are STP Files? (and What the STP File Extension Stands For)

What Programs Open STP Files


STEP stands for Standard for the Exchange of Product Model Data. It is a standardized ISO file format used in CAD design. 

STEP files use the .step or .stp file extension. Introduced in 1994 to standardize the sharing of 3D CAD data, STEP is a neutral (non-proprietary) file format, meaning it is independent of any particular CAD/CAM platform. 

Its excellent interoperability and backward compatibility make it ideal for large teams employing different applications during design, development, simulation, and production.


What Information Does the .STP File Extension Contain?

STP files store 3D modeling data, part information, and metadata in a plain-text ASCII format that meets the STEP Application Protocols ISO 10303-242:2014. An STP file can contain data pertaining to:

  • Process planning
  • Mechanical design (including geometric models, 3D objects, surface data)
  • Kinematics
  • Composite design

Import, Export, and View STP Files 

Though many CAD/CAM applications can open STP files, users can face issues such as loss of metadata, translation errors, and non-optimum file sizes when importing or exporting 3D models. For more streamlined workflows consider using Spatial’s 3D InterOp. It enables:

  • Viewing, using, and converting STP files to other CAD/CAM file formats
  • Smaller files sizes
  • Native data translation
  • Interoperability with a wide variety of CAD/CAM software
  • Selective data imports
  • And more

Enhance user experience and maximize your application’s time-in-market using Spatial’s SDK and commitment to ongoing technology advancement.

For information on how you can add native file support in your 3D application with Spatial’s SDKs, contact us today.

Read more about the STP extension:

  1. STEP / STP File Format