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What is an IGES file?
An IGES file is a data file used to exchange 2D or 3D design information between CAD programs, such as Autodesk AutoCAD and ACD Systems Canvas. It typically contains surface information for a model but may also store wireframe, solid model, and circuit diagram information. IGES files are saved in ASCII text format and are based on the Initial Graphics Exchange Specification (IGES) standard.
The IGES standard originates from the United States Air Force (USAF) Integrated Computer-Aided Manufacturing (ICAM) project in the 1970s. The standard was initially utilized for the manufacturing of aerospace-related parts. However, it spread to other industries, such as automotive and machinery, after ICAM released the first official version of IGES in 1980. Data files stored in the IGES standard may be saved as IGES files but are more commonly saved as .IGS files.
Although the IGES standard is still used today, it has significantly decreased in usage since the late-1990s. This is due to the release of more efficient formats, like .STEP and Parasolid, and lack of development (the last official IGES version was released in 1996).
How to open an IGES file
You can open IGES files with various CAD programs in Windows, such as Autodesk Fusion 360 (Windows), ideaMK IGSViewer (Windows), and CADSoftTools ABViewer (Windows). You can also open IGES files in macOS with Nemetschek VectorWorks and CADEX CAD Exchanger. Or, you can upload IGES files to ShareCAD.org or CADEX CAD Exchanger Cloud and view them in a web browser.
While you will typically open IGES files with CAD software, you can also open them with a text editor since they are saved in text format. However, the contents will appear as text instead of a visual representation of a part. You can use Microsoft Wordpad (bundled with Windows) or Apple TextEdit (bundled with macOS) to view the plain text in IGES files.
How to convert an IGES file
Several CAD applications, including Autodesk Fusion 360, CADEX CAD Exchanger, and Dassault Systemes CATIA, can convert IGES files to other formats.
For example, Fusion 360 can convert IGES files to the following formats:
- .STP, .STEP - STEP 3D Model
- .STL - Stereolithography File
- .F3D - Fusion 360 Archive
- .3MF - 3D Manufacturing File
- .IPT - Inventor Part
- .IAM - Inventor Assembly
- .FBX - Autodesk FBX Interchange File
- .OBJ - Wavefront 3D Object File
- .SKP - SketchUp Document
- .SMT - Autodesk Shape Manager Text File
- .USDZ - Universal Scene Description Zipped Format