What is a STEP record (*.step, *.stp)?

STEP (Standard for the Exchange the Product Data) is a renowned neutral 3D CAD record format the is interoperable among various CAD programs such as CATIA, Creo, SolidWorks, NX, Inventor, and also others.

You are watching: Step 203 vs 214

STEP is an ISO-standard (ISO 10303-242:2020) written utilizing the express modeling language.

It is thorough into numerous Application Protocols (APs). In this article we resolve AP 203, AP 214, and also AP 242 related to to mechanically CAD design, 3D dimensional geometry, and product information.

Why is action important?


Native CAD record formats indigenous CAD software prefer CATIA and SolidWorks are proprietary and cannot directly be interpreted nor converted to another proprietary CAD system.

By exporting into a neutral CAD layout like STEP, it enables for interoperability downstream.

More importantly, together companies relocate towards model-based definition and far from timeless paper-based workflows, STEP, particularly AP 242, has been the many popular file format for CAD interoperability downstream v departments, suppliers, subcontractors, and customers.

STEP AP 242 additionally includes PMI (product manufacturing information) such together GD&T, BOM, and other meta-notes & notes for building and also measuring the part or assembly. Assorted workflows are currently able come come native a single source the truth.

For design, this is interoperability in between different design systems (CAD to CAD or CAD come CAE).

For manufacturing, this is the transmission of product definition into manufacturing/measurement software application (CAD to camer or CAD to CMM).

Popular step application protocols


Application protocol: Configuration regulated 3d design of mechanical parts and assemblies.

AP 203 defines geometry, topology, and also configuration monitoring data of heavy models for mechanical parts and assemblies. Generally supported through aerospace and also defense.

Summary the AP 203 features:

Products as mechanical parts & assembliesData for configuration control used to style phase.Data regarded documentation that design readjust process, approval, security classification.Geometrical data together wireframe, surface models, faceted models, manifold surfaces, and solids (BREP).


Application protocol: core data for automotive mechanical style processes.

AP 214 defines everything in AP 203 add to colors, layers, GD&T (geometric dimensioning and tolerance) and design intent. Mostly supported by the automotive industry.

Summary that AP 214 features:

All indigenous AP 203.Colors and layers.Textual annotations linked to the geometry.GD&T with graphical presentations.Validation properties: Global, together volume area, center and Local as Clouds the Points.Construction history in 3D.References to product data represented in an additional format 보다 STEP.Kinematic structures.Tolerance data and surface conditions.


Application protocol: regulated model-based 3D engineering.

AP 242 merges step AP 203 and also AP 214 to develop a solitary standard for model-based 3D engineering.

Summary that AP 242 features:

All the AP 203.All the AP 214.3D semantic PMI3D shape quality3D parametric/geometric limit design3D kinematics assembly3D electric harness3D pipingAccess and digital rights monitoring (DRM)Long term archivingMechatronics

STEP AP 203 vs 214 vs 242: i beg your pardon is the best?

It"s conclusive.

STEP AP 242 is the better format, due to the fact that it combines both AP 203 and AP 214. Because it is future proof for MBD/MBE workflows, it"s the desired format.

The ISO/TC 184/SC 4 (the step governing committee) has withdrawn from doing future work with AP 203 and AP 214.

However, because MBD/MBE workflows are still in the early adoption phase, AP 203/214 continue to be well-known for version geometry.

AP203 and AP214 room withdrawn (ISO lifecycle stage 95.99) as global Standards. They to be deprecated with the publishing of AP242 in 2014. Action users have to follow the job-related of the CAx Implementors Forum come track their vendor’s implementation coverage the AP242: https://www.cax-if.org/cax/cax_vendors.php If your merchant doesn’t covering something you need, demand it native your merchant or find one more solution.

-Thomas Hedberg, Chair, ASME MBE requirements Committee.

How come import, export, and convert step files

CAD SystemAP 203 / AP 214AP 242Notes:
SolidWorksYYExporting come AP 242 is anadd-on featureand requires its very own license.
CreoYYLearn more.
Siemens NXYYLearn more.
AutodeskYYLearn more.

As referenced in the table above, the major CAD software application vendors can view, import, and also export step files. MBDVidia is our top MBD CAD translation device that converts indigenous CAD documents into MBD-ready records like action AP 242, QIF and others.

Free STEP record viewer

The STEP paper Analyzer and Viewer is a free tool native NIST (National institute from Standards and also Technology) that allows users to open a STEP record and do the following:

Generate a spreadsheet or CSV documents of every entity and attribute information.Creates a visualization (view) of component geometry, graphical PMI annotations, supplemental geometry, and also datum targets that is presented in a internet browser.Analyze any semantic PMI, graphical PMI, and validation properties because that conformance to encourage practices.Checks for basic syntax errors.

STEP alternatives

There are various other CAD-neutral record formats come consider. We’ll highlight some renowned ones:



QIF (Quality information Framework) is a more recent ISO-standard layout with the most robust scopeon MBD, particularly semantic PMI for human-&-machine-readable CAD downstream for automation, analytics, and big Data.

It"s a very contemporary take on MBD with advanced concepts favor tolerancing and also measurement features, support for assembly-level PMI, and more.Highly prized in the metrology and quality departments. It"s acquired traction in ~ aerospace & defense for advanced MBD/MBE workflows.


JT is recognized for intuitive representation however can additionally include B-rep and also PMI, making it likewise MBD-ready.

Although technically an open format, plenty of vendors use Siemen"s JT open Toolkit which provides use of blends v proprietary recipes, therefore it"s less usual outside Siemen software environments.


3D PDF is the most ubiquitous format and also easily viewable on every maker out there. Great for graphical representation but does not have machine-readability functions for automation.


IGES is the earliest neutral format and supports geometry and also solids. However, the does not contain PMI, thus is no MBD-ready.

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Additional Reading

Need help with integrating step with her MBD workflow?


Contact united state today and also our options team can answer every question you have actually from multi-CAD compatibility come MBD downstream applications.