SolidWorks Tutorials and Videos

Import STL files into SolidWorks

by Charles Culp,

This tool can be used to import *.es, *.3ds, *.ply, *.stl, *.obj, *.qobj, *.dae, *.asc *.off, *.ptx, *.vmi, *.bre, *.pts, *.apts, *.xyz, *.gts, *.pdb, *.tri, *.x3d, *.x3dv, and *.wrl

This technique will allow much larger STL files to be imported into SolidWorks than the native SolidWorks STL import tool. It uses .dxf as an intermediary format.

This technique requires MeshLab, which is open source software available here:

This technique is limited by your system memory. Do not attempt this on large files with a 32 bit operating system. This is for 64 bit only, and I suggest it for users with a large amount of RAM. The PS3 controller imported for this video was imported on 4GB RAM on my home machine, an can be downloaded here (151MB). I hope to test the limits of this technique soon, to see just how large of an STL file can be imported.

I suggest clicking on HD in the following video:

Importing STL Files into SolidWorks from Charles Culp on Vimeo.


  1. Goeck Goeck
    November 15, 2011    


    thanks for the hint and the nice indroduction. I needed this to work around the raw STL import of SolidWorks since it produces a nonusable STL-grafics within Solidworks, though it does that correctly. Now I can work with the imported STL as if it were a native SolidWors File. The last spike in my workchain, Nice :-)
    Thanks for that one.


  2. December 1, 2011    

    Thanks for the tips, one question how long it takes to importing those PS3 model? just curious..

    • December 1, 2011    

      A long time! Half an hour if I remember right? That was on my top of the line system at work. And then sometimes it crashes.

      I think it’s important to realize that this is a “workaround” or “hack” in the greatest sense of the term. I wouldn’t use this as a first option. There are actual tools out there for importing mesh data, but they can be time consuming and they all cost money (although you get “real” results when you are done).

  3. Gyorgy Gyorgy
    November 3, 2013    

    Dear Charles,

    The file download for the ps3 download is missing. Can you fix the download link please?

  4. Matthew Johnson Matthew Johnson
    April 16, 2014    

    Thank you!

    We have an STL file that we saved and had made using SLA, but didn’t save a part file on that day!

    Now I’m trying to see what changes in geometry happened, and want to superimpose one upon another, but can’t align the files when they are just imported from STL.

    Thank you – I’ll let it run overnight!


    • Michael D Michael D
      September 10, 2014    

      Large STL files will NOT convert in Solidworks.
      STL file conversions are limited to 20,000 facets. Period.
      Even files converted from meshlab to dxf first will not convert.
      Michael D

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