Working with Mesh Data

Data comes from lots of places. Scans, downloads, you name it. Alibre Design makes it simple to incorporate mesh data into your solid modeling workflows by allowing you to import, reference, build off, and convert mesh data inside a solid modeling environment.

Working with Mesh Data

Import mesh models into Alibre Design

Alibre Design supports the import of OBJ, STL, 3DS, PLY, and WRL. You can import a mesh into any 3D workspace. Alibre Design’s mesh import is not a general purpose mesh cleanup tool – your mesh should be clean prior to import if you plan on converting it to a solid. “Clean” mesh generally means the mesh density is reasonable, the mesh is “water tight”, there are no duplicate vertices, etc. Many 3rd party tools provide mesh cleanup tools. The conversion operation is highly sensitive to the nature of the mesh, and as a result may not work on every mesh.

Convert a mesh to a solid – organic

There are two conversion types: organic and mechanical. Organic conversion is suitable for scans, or any model that was not designed in a CAD system. You can convert a clean mesh to a solid body, and then perform regular operations on it, allowing you to incorporate interesting design components into your work.

Convert a mesh to a solid – mechanical

Using the mechanical conversion type, Alibre Design will attempt to find common model features such as flat faces and holes. If successful, these features will be merged together to form a simple, clean representation of the model. This process is extremely dependent on mesh density and geometry, and will not work for all mechanical meshes.

Use a mesh as a reference for a new design

Any mesh can be imported as a reference, even if it cannot be converted to a solid. Using a mesh as a reference allows you to visualize how the model will interact with the real world. Your mesh could be anything, such as a scan of a machine, body part, or space. You can also perform boolean operations on solid bodies with meshes, allowing you to “imprint” the mesh geometry onto a solid model.

Snapping to mesh data

In a part workspace, when you enter into Sketch Mode, the mesh will automatically go into a section view on your sketch plane. You can access the cross section of the mesh for snapping sketch figures. In this workflow, you can recreate cross sections of the mesh in sketches, and then perform regular modeling operations on them to recreate a part.

Mesh Model Formats

  • OBJ
  • STL
  • 3DS
  • PLY
  • WRL

Working with Meshes

  • Import Mesh
  • Position/Scale Mesh
  • Convert Mesh to Solid
  • Boolean with Mesh


  • Convert artistic models into solids you can add to your designs
  • Design new models using scans as a reference, such as existing machinery, body parts, or spaces.
  • Convert and recover simple mechanical mesh files such as STL into a more editable format.
  • Use sketch snapping on multiple cross sections of a mesh to recreate its geometry.
Alibre Design offers a good combination of software capability, ease of use, and last but not least, price. I already have recommended the software to many inventor friends at the Edison Inventors Association (EIA), and will continue to do so. Looking back, I don’t think I could have done this project in this short amount of time without Alibre Design, and with this sort of precision. Alibre Design does more for less – in both time and money. Helmuth Geiser

Founder, Scaled Energy