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I was wondering how well Alibre imports STL or OBJ files. I want to 3D scan some parts and import them into CAD for reverse engineering and/or modification. My 3D scanner software exports files as STL or OBJ.



Staff member
It doesn't.

Inherently going 'backwards' from STL to a usable CAD file is a nightmare. Many softwares which do import STL just produce a STEP (or similar) with all the triangular faces from the STL - result a HUGE file that you can't realistically edit.

For simple stuff, I use the measurement tools in the free version of Netfab to get dimensions from STL. Real reverse engineering needs specialised tools.

There are a small number of applications which do a reasonable job of trying to convert STL to 'sensible' CAD geometry - at least one has been mentioned on the forum (name escapes me just at the moment).


Alibre Super User
Please take a look, InStep Studio 3D could also be an option:

InStep Studio 3D - From Mesh to CAD | Reverse Engineering Software

InStep Studio 3D v3.0 is Reverse Engineering software that works with multiple mesh formats to convert them to CAD - STL / Step converter.

But as mentioned several times, reverse engineering is not a trivial matter in practice and requires quite a high investment (3D scanner + software) as well as solid knowledge and experience for optimal results...


New Member
Hi, did anyone try CAD assistant?

Can it be used to convert stl to cad formats? I don't know much about these things.


I use FreeCAD for such kind of conversions (at least from CAD parts that were converted to STL and to get back to an STEP), and it works razonably well. Now for pure 3D scans, it will import and manage very well, but forget to convert to any usable directly.