Tech Tip - BIM Support

Tech Tip - BIM Support
Posted in: Mechanical Design
July 4, 2016

Designers and manufacturers of equipment, furniture, lighting fixtures, elevators and other types of products used in buildings have always had a bit of an uphill battle when sharing their design data for use in Architectural, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) software where the buildings themselves are designed. As of SOLIDWORKS 2015 new functionality has been added to easily export 3D models for use in AEC software, offering designers and engineers added flexibility and assurance in sharing Building Information Modeling (BIM) data.

Let’s go through a quick scenario to get a feel for this new ability. Let’s say we design large industrial boilers for heating applications in commercial buildings. At some point in the design of the building, a project manager or architect may need our model in order to integrate it properly. Rather than wasting time on trial and error of many different types of export formats and settings, you can now do this quite easily.

Type and Orientation: Before the information can be exported out of SOLIDWORKS, it is important to establish the mounting location for the newly designed product, ensuring the size, scale, and rotation are accurate and easily understood. This boiler will be mounted to the floor, but the drop-down menu also offers options for ceiling and floor mounted equipment.

Export to AEC Menu

De-Feature: Once the mounting options are set, it is important to de-feature the assembly and remove extraneous parts or other intellectual property. In this example, the smaller parts (like the nuts on the front plate) of the design are easily removed and the model is updated. There are almost 500 components in this boiler assembly, but that kind of detail is unnecessary at the building level.

Remove menu

In this example I chose the “Custom” option for feature and component removal, which allows me more control over the selections. The other 3 modes are more automated and work as follows:


High:               The model is exported as is, without removing any details.

Medium:         All internal components are removed.

Internal cross section geometry is removed and made solid.

Fillets and chamfers with less than one inch radii are removed.

Holes under two inches in diameter are suppressed.

Low:                All internal components are removed.

Internal cross section geometry is removed and made solid.

Fillets and chamfers with less than two inch radii are removed.

Holes under three inches in diameter and extrudes less than three inches in total depth are suppressed.


Before accepting the new version of the model for export, we are offered a nice preview which clearly shows the reorientation and simplification of the model (small components removed, volumes filled in, small features removed, etc.).


If we’re satisfied with the preview of the model as it will be exported, the only thing left to do is to hit the “Save As .SAT” button. This will save a version of the model in the ACIS (.SAT) format which is widely used and accepted in the AEC software industry. No need to worry about settings or options, it’s already been done by going through the steps in the wizard.

Save Model as .SAT menu

While most of these things were possible previously, you had to have the “tribal knowledge” of what type of format will work, how to re-orient the model, how to simplify the model, etc. Now in SOLIDWORKS, it’s all packaged up in a nice little wizard to make this workflow extremely fast and easy.

July 4, 2016
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Carl Smith
April 9, 2020
Hey, first of all, Thank you so much for this information about TipFor bim Support and it’s very impressive and very helpful for me once again Thank you.:)

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