SOLIDWORKS 2019 What’s New – 3D Textures – #SW2019


Creating complex texturing on the surfaces of models can be a time-consuming chore, especially if there is no pattern to it. And to make matters worse, if this is a curved or spline surface, the work involved skyrockets. The kind of texturing I’m talking about might be a knurling found on common handheld tools, or the dimples found on golf balls. New in SOLIDWORKS 2019 is the ability to transform textures from appearances into real usable geometry that could be used for 3D Printing, manufacturing or even rendering. And with last year’s addition of mesh manipulation, you can make further adjustments by converting the resulting mesh into a BREP body. Today I’ll show you how to use this new feature, the requirements to set it up, and some example uses.

Apply Texture Appearances

The first step to using this new 3D Texture feature is applying a texture map appearance to the surface of your model (all image files, *.bmp, *.hdr, *.jpg, *.png, etc…). Ideally the texture used should be an image generated as a heightmap. A heightmap uses the luminance channel to represent the height from the floor; black pixels representing minimum height, and white pixels representing maximum height. These maps are also known as bump maps. The map can be applied to multiple faces, or the entire model. You can also use multiple textures, and each texture can be enabled or disabled for 3D Texture mapping when applying the feature.

Once you have selected an appropriate texture, apply it to the model using the standard SOLIDWORKS mapping controls. Here I want to add some dimples on a sphere. Using this bump map I found on the web, I’ll set the mapping to spherical in SOLIDWORKS.

This texture is wrapped spherically. Setting the texture to fit width and height on the face selection makes a perfect 1:1 fit.

3D Texture

Once the texture is applied, I’ll save my model before adding the 3D Texture. To add the 3D Texture, right-click on the solid body, and click the icon shown below.

Now I can select the texture(s) from SOLIDWORKS I want to use, and adjust their refinement, offset height, and the maximum element sizes. Keep in mind the more facets you create, the more difficult it will be for SOLIDWORKS to display the model.

Depending on your graphics card, this can severely affect performance.  The image below shows how adjusting refinement can affect quality of the mesh.  Moving the texture refinement slider all the way to the right will produce a VERY densely packed mesh.

In this example, increasing the refinement another 11% resulted in a facet count of 30+ million. This took my computer several minutes just to display and would have made for a very heavy file size. Since the jpg I am using for this texture is not very large or detailed, I did not see any further increase in smoothness in the faceting, just more polygons.


The result is similar to what is imported from an STL; a graphical mesh, along with the original solid body being hidden.

In order to use this mesh for 3D Printing, other manipulation, or rendering, I must convert it into a BREP Mesh Body.

This is done by right-clicking on the graphic body, and clicking the icon shown below.

The process of converting the graphic mesh into a BREP body softens out some of the irregularities. I also added another cube body and used a Boolean subtract feature (combine – subtract) to show how the model could be further edited.

Using another Height map image texture, I created another 3D Texture model to make a realistic ground plane.

Extra credit: Rendering

Combining this new feature with additional textures for colorizing in SOLIDWORKS Visualize can make a very realistic looking scene!

I hope this part of the What’s New series gives you a better understanding of the new features and functions of SOLIDWORKS 2019. Please check back to the CATI Blog as the CATI Application Engineers will continue to break down many of the new items in SOLIDWORKS 2019. All these articles will be stored in the category of “SOLIDWORKS What’s New.”

Alex Worsfold
Application Engineer – CSWE
Computer Aided Technology, LLC

Design Innovation Month – October 2018

What is DI MONTH?

CATI is declaring October Design Innovation MONTH.  We’ve created a month-long series of events and activities around design innovation especially for our customers.  Attend a SOLIDWORKS 2019 event, enter our rendering contest, and learn about some cool tips and tricks at the daily online events. Plan your month at