STEP or "Standard for the Exchange of Product model data" is also referred as ISO 10303. STEP has been initially designed with the idea to supersede the IGES format (which was the first broadly used vendor-neutral CAD file format). However even today both formats co-exist and data in IGES and STEP represent lion share of all CAD files.
Typically, STEP can be used to exchange data between CAD, CAM, CAE, PDM/enterprise data modeling and other CAx systems. STEP addresses product data from mechanical and electrical design, geometric dimensioning and tolerancing, analysis and manufacturing, as well as additional information specific to various industries such as automotive, aerospace, building construction, ship, oil and gas, process plants and others.
STEP is developed and maintained by the ISO technical committee. There are also various technical groups that define usage conventions and recommended practices to ensure better interoperability between software applications. In CAD world, the most prominent group is www.cax-if.org that unites software vendors and industrial users.
ISO10303 is very extremely large and complex and is structured in multiple layers, for example, from physical file format definition (Part 21) to geometrical/topological definitions (Part 42), up to Application Protocols (AP’s) defining higher-level industry use cases. CAD Exchanger supports AP203, A214 and AP242, which are most commonly used AP's.
Parasolid file format is native for Parasolid geometrical kernel. Today it is widely used in a range of applications, including SolidWorks, SolidEdge, NX, Microstation, Ansys, Abaqus and others. Parasolid has two primary file extensions: .x_t, which is text based, and .x_b – binary-based format. Parasolid is also used to provide precise geometrical definitions of parts in JT files (as XT B-Rep data segments). CAD Exchanger can read files compliant with the entire range of Parasolid file format (schema) starting from v0.15 and up to version 32 (as of time of writing this page). Likewise, CAD Exchanger writes file compliant with all Parasolid schemas.
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