Using SolidWorks Images with InDesign

Explorer ,
Aug 28, 2017 Aug 28, 2017

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I'm using InDesign to make an owner's manual for a machine that was modeled in SolidWorks 3D design software. What are the best methods for bringing images created with SolidWorks into InDesign?

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Community Expert ,
Aug 28, 2017 Aug 28, 2017

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What formats can it export to?

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Mentor ,
Aug 28, 2017 Aug 28, 2017

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A few seconds of googling gives this:

http://www.solidworks.com/sw/products/3d-cad/cad-import-export.htm

Seems like ai or pdf is the way to go.

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Guru ,
Aug 28, 2017 Aug 28, 2017

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i have had the industrial designer make me .pdf files. for printing i bring each .pdf into photoshop and covert to a .tiff so i know they are cymk. Place in layout and export your print .pdf

If they can't make you a .pdf you can have them make you a high resolution .jpg and convert to .tiff with photoshop.

that is how i have done it.

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Community Expert ,
Aug 28, 2017 Aug 28, 2017

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I’ll bite, why convert to CMYK?

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Mentor ,
Aug 28, 2017 Aug 28, 2017

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jpg is the worst format (artifacts!) for complex black'n'white vector drawings (which is the case most likely), just like any other raster image, even tiff or psd (which can be exported directly, btw, so no need for conversion jpeg > tiff/psd). You'll inevitably compromise the quality.

I'd stick with vectors-capable formats and edit ai or even pdf later, if necessary.

And, as Bob said, no need for cmyk if there's only black color in a drawing, greyscale is just enough. And safer/easier to convert.

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Explorer ,
Aug 28, 2017 Aug 28, 2017

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As I said in my original post, if I'm in SolidWorks and do a SaveAs and pick the .psd format, I get an error when trying to open that file in Photoshop or InDesign.  The message is 'this version of the software doesn't support that file type'.

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Aug 28, 2017 Aug 28, 2017

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You can't “open” PSD files in InDesign. You can “place” PSD files, assuming they conform to spec.

You should be able to “open” a PSD file in Photoshop, but if that is not working, i.e., you get an error message, or if you get an error message when trying to place a PSD file in InDesign, you have strong evidence that SolidWorks is not generating kosher PSD files.

To your original question, PDF would normally be the most reliable method of placing content into InDesign.

With regards to CMYK versus RGB, unless you are trying to force grayscale or black only, there is no good reason to do conversions at any time prior to the actual print process - modern day RIPs/DFEs automatically convert non-CMYK data to the proper CMYK for the particular device, which you probably don't know at the time most content is created upstream!

          - Dov

- Dov Isaacs, former Adobe Principal Scientist (April 30, 1990 - May 30, 2021)

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Community Expert ,
Aug 28, 2017 Aug 28, 2017

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I happen to have a lot of experience with this, and my finding is that Solidworks won't export vectors in a straightforward way.

If your visuals are to be color/shaded 3D renders, you're surely stuck with raster images, and PDF export is the way to get there.

On the other hand, if you are trying for black-on-white "line drawing" style visuals, your best bet would be to acquire a license for Solidworks' companion "viewer" app, eDrawings Professional. With eDrawings, you can open, manipulate, and position 3D models for your purposes, set a wireframe/hidden line view, then print to PDF and get Illustrator-editable vectors.

eDrawings is the only app I've found that will do this with 3D engineering models, and it's become a staple in my workflow for that very purpose. Unfortunately for me, my primary client for this type of work uses Creo rather than Solidworks, so I had to go a few extra steps and get Creo + the eDrawings publisher plugin for Creo. For you starting with Solidworks models will make it a more direct process.

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Mentor ,
Aug 28, 2017 Aug 28, 2017

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Thank You, John, for clarification, my own guesses were based just on the list of import /export they're stating they can do...

Real world experience is valuable here.

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Explorer ,
Aug 29, 2017 Aug 29, 2017

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Hi John,

My model has a ton of different configurations, display states, user defined views, and exploded views.  Being able to select various combinations of these is key for the illustrations used in the manual.  How can these be selected in eDrawings?

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Community Expert ,
Aug 29, 2017 Aug 29, 2017

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Bill,

My experience with SolidWorks > eDrawings is somewhat limited compared to the Creo > eDrawings workflow I mentioned. eDrawings Professional (as opposed to the free version) does indeed recognize the component tree, saved views and states including exploded, sectioning, measurement, component movement, hide/show/make transparent, etc., even with the Creo-native stuff I'm doing, so I expect SolidWorks feature compatibility would be still deeper.

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Community Beginner ,
Jun 05, 2018 Jun 05, 2018

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I know a almost a year late, but what I do is, from the solid model a create a .dwg file and then open this file with illustrator.

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Community Beginner ,
Mar 09, 2022 Mar 09, 2022

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I'm sure you've solved to problem by now, but what i've been doing is to create a Solidworks Drawing file and layout as much as you can there, and then export as a PDF. 

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