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Benefits, Limitations, and Applications of the .STEP File

You will need a computer-aided design (CAD) file to manufacture parts for machines or electronic appliances. This CAD file usually contains 3D designs and other data to help manufacturing teams plan accurately and manufacture the final product.

There are a wide range of file types when you are ready to export the CAD model. However, different file types are ideal for different applications. In this article, we will be discussing one of such file type which is .STEP file. This article will provide answers to questions like what are STEP files? How are they used? What benefits do they offer? What are their limitations?

What are .STEP files?

.STEP files are file formats designed for 3D models. STEP is an acronym that stands for Standard for the Exchange of Product Data.” Other file format types require that users perform intermediate conversion steps. STEP files allow you to save and share 3D models across CAD systems. .STEP files can also be known as STP, P21, STEP physical file, and ISO 10303.

These files are commonly integrated for 3D printing and modeling. In the Mid-1980s, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) developed the STEP file image format. In the year 994, the first edition of STEP was used. With a high level of precision, STEP files read and save the whole body of a 3D model. Therefore, this enables more accurate file opening and sharing.

In addition, it is very easy to edit STEP files since they are plain text that displays as 3D models. Also, users can easily view the creation date, application origin, original file name and other data of STEP files. Since .STEP files offer a high level of accuracy, cap[ability to develop detailed models, and cross-platform compatibility, they are widely integrated in architectural design and 3D modeling.

Furthermore, STEP files are ideal for use in CNC machining since they help machine tool path calculations. The two important aspects of the success of .STEP file is its compatibility and accuracy. Also, STEP files don’t simplify features in geometric figures unlike STL files. Therefore, this makes STEP files suitable for parts saving where details are necessary.

Benefits of .STEP File


.STEP file is one of the most popular CAD formats since it works well with various programs. This file format is compatible with SolidWorks, Autodesk Fusion 360, FreeCAD, ArchiCAD, and more. Also, STEP file makes it very easy to open and edit files developed in software version.

STEP file format allows you to save data with the use of a non-uniform rational basis spline (NURBS). One of the benefits of using .STEP file is that it allows users to customize and edit a model after exporting.  Since the .STEP file saves the whole body, users can edit it again.

Furthermore, the .STEP file format is suitable for a wide range of design tasks. You can use it for 3D modeling and it can also validate and transfer design. The compatibility of the .STEP file with CAD software makes users share and edit 3D models on several devices.

One of the strengths of .STEP file is that it comprises 3D data and displays as a 3D model in computer-aided programs. This precise file format will save all details of your design.

Limitations of .STEP File

.STEP file has a lot of advantages, however, it has its own limitations. One of its limitations is that it lacks storage efficiency. Therefore, it will need more space than other file formats. Also, the .STEP file doesn’t comprise parametric intelligence neither does it feature history. This file format is not capable of saving a particular texture, lighting, or material of a model. This happens because this format disregards all of these elements when it saves a model.

Furthermore, the .STEP file has a set of procedures that gives reference to previously specified procedural calls. This means creating STEP files is time consuming. STEP file format is a complex one.

How to use STEP Files in Shapr3D


You will have to use excel in this case. It is very easy and straightforward to import a STEP file to Shapr3D. Open the Shapr3D app and edit just like other CAD model. Ensure you make use of the intuitive direct modeling tools. The user interface of Shapr3D is friendly and adaptive. So it will guide you throughout the editing process.

After you are done, click on Export and then save as a STEP file. You can display your STEP files in SHapr3D.  The .STEP file will store your models’ 3D body. However, this file format won’t keep the texture and material of the design. Users can save time and effort by integrating the built-in visualization tool. This tool prevents you from joggling between your rendering programs and CAD.

You can include realistic materials to your model with just a flick of finger. Click on Visualization in your toolbar and select from glass, wooden, or metallic textures. Also, you can select several polished and brushed finishes.

How to Use a Text Editor to Open STEP File

You can use a wide range of software and CAD programs to import and open .STEP file. A text editor like Apple TextEdit or Microsoft Notepad can open a STEP file. The .STEP file is usually saved in plain text. You can easily view the metadata and data of the model. This includes the app that created the file and the original file name.

Also, you can easily modify the STEP file’s properties when you open the STEP file in a text editor. If the file is wrongly edited, you may corrupt the file. Also, you can convert STEP files using different file types. CAD applications such as IMSI TurboCAD and Autodesk Fusion 360 can help you convert your STEP files into other formats.


Experts in the manufacturing industry make use of the .STEP file since it is very compatible with most programs and also has the ability to represent curved surfaces. However, this file can be very complex and may not be suitable for your project.