How to view STP files

STEP files are often used in computer-aided design (CAD) and 3D printing to storing three-dimensional model data for a broad range of design jobs. Several computer programs may read these files. This helpful article will walk you through the history of STEP files, their applications, and their benefits and drawbacks. A 3D graphic file utilized by CAD software may have the extension STP, which stands for STEP. The STEP file format is often used to create 3D model files, which you can save using the STP file format. The extension STEP can also be used for STP files; however, it is far less frequent. 

The true power of STEP is seen in its widespread adoption in the 3D world. It is the most widely used file format for 3D computer-aided design (CAD), and it enables designs produced by various CAD systems to be viewed and edited. It is one of the most widely used formats for interchange of 3D CAD data and sharing files. The primary purpose of an STP file is to facilitate the transfer of three-dimensional graphics across various CAD and CAM applications.

In addition to enhancing compatibility across different platforms, STEP files hold all of the body and detail of a 3D model with unmatched precision. Some older file formats could only store the most fundamental geometries, which made it more difficult to share, open, and edit files accurately. In this article, we’ll look at several ways to view STP files, including using a CAD program, a free viewer, an online viewer, and converting the file to a different format.

Why are STP files so popular?

There are several reasons why STEP files have become the industry standard in 3D design, including architecture, manufacturing, and printing. These reasons include the following:

  1. Sharing 3D models

STEP files are designed to simplify transferring files that include 3D data from one computer to another. It is a common practice to utilize these file types for viewing or printing 3D models. Since STEP can save the whole of a 3D model rather than just the geometry, and because it is compatible with various CAD programs, the format makes collaboration very straightforward.

  1. Editing 3D models

The individual 3D components are saved together in a single STEP file, which can then be edited. Most 3D model maker programs can read and modify STEP files, improving platform design and cooperation. STEP files, often used in 3D printing, have this significant benefit over STL files, which are also widely used in the industry.

  1. Accuracy

The data stored by STEPS is accurate because it uses a mathematical representation of curves known as NURBS. The fact that STEPS are compatible with the tools and software used for CAD makes it simple to share and change them. They also can read and store full 3D models. You may modify a STEP file. It is simple to share it with other people so they may change it or store it on another computer, so there is a backup.

However, there are a few drawbacks to using STP files.

Cons of using STP files

  1. Limitations of STEP Files for CAD Software Recognition

STEP files are commonly used in the creation of 3D models. However, they do not include the material or texture data necessary for CAD software to recognize them accurately. This limitation can result in 3D models that need more detail and accuracy for specific applications, such as product design or animation.

  1. Representing Camera and Lighting Setup

STEP files do not contain information on the camera or illumination settings, which can be essential for creating 3D models with proper lighting and angles. However, the FBX and USDZ file formats can represent camera and lighting setups. Users can make more accurate and detailed 3D models for various applications using these formats with STEP files.

  1. Challenges of Creating STEP Files

Creating STEP files can be challenging, much like learning a programming language. This format has specific syntax requirements and can be difficult to understand, making building a STEP file time-consuming and labor-intensive. To streamline this process, users can consider using dedicated software or hiring professionals to create STEP files efficiently.

Ways to view an STP file

  1. Using a CAD program

One of the easiest ways to view STP files is to use a computer-aided design (CAD) program. Popular CAD programs such as SelfCAD, SolidWorks, AutoCAD, and Fusion 360 all support the STP file format. To open an STP file in a CAD program, open the program, select the option to import a file, and choose the STP file you want to view.

  1. Using a free viewer

Several free viewers can open STP files in case you can’t access a CAD program. One such program is eDrawings Viewer, available for Windows and Mac. To view an STP file using eDrawings viewer, open the program and drag and drop the file into the viewer. Another option is the STP Viewer, which is available for Windows. To view an STP file using the STP Viewer, open the program and select the option to open a file. Then, choose the STP file you want to view.

  1. Using an online viewer

If you don’t want to download software, several online viewers can open STP files. One such viewer is the 3D Viewer Online, which supports various 3D file formats, including STP. To view an STP file using the 3D viewer Online, upload the file to the website, and you should be able to view the model in your browser.

  1. Converting the file

If you cannot open the STP file using the above methods, consider converting it to a different format. It can be done using a file conversion tool such as Autodesk’s FBX Converter or the online tool CloudConvert. To convert the file, upload the STP file to the conversion tool and select the desired output file format. Then, download the converted file and open it using the appropriate software.


While STEP files have many benefits in 3D modeling, they also have limitations that users must be aware of. By combining STEP files with additional file formats, such as FBX and USDZ, users can create more accurate and detailed 3D models for various applications. However, creating a STEP file can be challenging and requires specialized software and expertise. As such, users may consider outsourcing this process to professionals or using specialized software to create STEP files more efficiently. By understanding the benefits and limitations of STEP files, users can make informed decisions when creating 3D models for various applications.

Conclusively, there are several ways to view STP files, including using a CAD program, a free viewer, an online viewer, or converting the file to a different format. Following these steps, you can view the 3D model contained within the STP file. Viewing STP files can be a breeze with the help of the right tools. Whether you use a CAD program or even convert the file to a different format, there are several ways to get the job done. However, if you want a comprehensive solution offering viewing, editing, and designing capabilities, consider trying out SelfCAD.

SelfCAD is an all-in-one 3D modeling software that allows you to import and export STP files with ease. It offers a user-friendly interface and a wide range of powerful tools that make 3D modeling and printing accessible to everyone. With SelfCAD, you can view, edit, and create 3D models from scratch. Whether a professional designer or a hobbyist, SelfCAD can help take your 3D modeling skills to the next level.

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Lee Clarke
Lee Clarke
Business And Features Writer


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