STEP file FAQ

What is a STEP file?

STEP file is a CAD file format, usually used to share 3D models between users with different CAD systems.

CAD file interchangeability is a huge, huge headache in the field, so it has to be make uniform. Standard ISO 10303 is trying to solve this problem. This standard is informally known as “STEP”, which stands for “Standard for the Exchange of Product model data”. STEP-file (ISO 10303-21) is implementation method of STEP standard that can represent 3D object in Computer-aided design (CAD) and related information.

Why we using a STEP AP214 file format for electronic components?

We have decided to use STEP AP214  File for two reasons:

  1. it is really wide used and known data exchange form.
  2. Almost all Electronic Computer-aided design (ECAD) software tools for layout designs such as Altium Designer, CircuitStudio, CircuitMaker, Cadence – OrCAD/Allegro PCB Editor, Zuken – CR-8000, CR-5000 Board Modeler, CADSTAR, Pulsonix, Mentor Graphics – PADS, DipTrace and many more platforms that we’re focused on, can import 3D models made in STEP file format.

What software I can use to view (or edit) models from STEP/STP files?

STEP/STP export/import options is supported by the following software:

ECAD or EDA software tools:

Software tools by Altium:

  • Altium Designer – electronic CAD software tool which offers schematic, routing functionalities, integrating FPGA conception tools, all integrated on an unified interface and many more.
  • CircuitStudio – Schematic Capture,  layout editor with PCB 3D view and Project Management software for professionals powered by Altium company.
  • CircuitMaker – Free Schematic and PCB Editor powered by Altium.

Software tools by Cadence:

  • OrCAD/Allegro PCB Designer – PCB design software tool with all necessary features for modern layout design.

Software tools by Mentor Graphics Corporation:

  • PADS (personal automated design system)- Software tool with all in one layout design, Thermal and signal integrity, interactive routing, High-speed rules and  more features.

Software tools by Pulsonix:

  • Pulsonix – Schematic and PCB design in all in one software tool with excellent importer from other Electronic design automation (EDA) products.

Software tools by Zuken:

  • CR-8000 is a ECAD tool for designing a hole product of PCBs with enclosure. It is allow 2D and 3D editing and view modes. With CR-8000 collaboration beetwean ECAD and MCAD is very easy.
  • CR5000 Board Modeler – Powerful tool for multi-layer layout desing which also offer EMC, signal integrity, high-speed and many more other options.
  • CADSTAR is a single-board design software with excellent performance and price. It is a tool which includes a complete environment for a PCB design.

Software tools by EAGLE CS:

  • EAGLE (the Easy Applicable Graphical Layout Editor) – Consists of three modules: the Schematic and Layout editor and Autorouter with added ECAD to MCAD solutions for exporting the layout to STEP and 3D PDF file formats.

Software tools by DipTrace:

  • DipTrace is one of the CAD software tools for Components creation, Schematic design and PCB Layout Editors with Autorouter and 3D Preview. DipTrace offers free edition for designing two signal layers board with up to 300 pins/pads.

MCAD software tools:

  • IDA Step – manager and free viewer of STEP data (3D/2D models, PCB/PCA, PDM and other data)
  • Express Engine – free software tool for browsing and operating STEP files

Software tools by Dassault Systemes:

  • SolidWorks –  3D Design, Product Data Management, Simulation Software, Technical Communication, Sustainable Design
  • Catia –  World’s Leading Solution for Engineering, Design, Systems Architecture and Systems Engineering
  • 3DVIA shape – free software tool for easy 3D modeling design.

Software tools by PTC:

  • Creo© Parametric – Creo© Parametric is PTC’s new 3D parametric modeling system, uses proven technologies from Pro/ENGINEER©, CoCreate©, and ProductView© to unlock design productivity
  • Creo Elements/Direct Modeling Express –  free 3D CAD Direct Modeling Software tool
  • Pro/ENGINEER –  even if days of this tool are numbered (it’s been announced that it will be canceled) and it’s advised to use Creo instead, we still think that this is a software that can come in handy.

Software tools by Autodesk:

  • Autodesk® Inventor® – comprehensive, flexible set of software for 3D mechanical design, product simulation, tooling creation, engineer to order, and design communication
  • Autodesk 3ds Max Products –  provide powerful, integrated 3D modeling, animation, and rendering tools that enable artists and designers to focus more energy on creative, rather than technical challenges
  • Autodesk 123D – free software tool for simple 3D modeling.
  • FUSION 360 – Power tool for the 3D development for both the PC and MAC platforms. Suitable for the ECAD to MCAD collaboration with EAGLE CS software tool.

If you know of some tools that we missed to mention, please contact us and we will consider adding it to our list.

Where can I find more info on STEP?

You can find more informations about STEP files in these resources:

Actual documentation

  • The documents of the STEP standard (ISO 10303) are copyrighted and published by ISO. They are available electronically and can be procured from ANSI (the U.S. American National Standards Institute) — go to The ANSI eStandards Store and search for “10303” or something similar.

TC 184/SC 4 Industrial data

Wikipedia  (Standard for the Exchange of Product model data)

Wiki STEP

Nasa STEP FAQ