How to Change the Orientation of an Imported SOLIDWORKS Part

Today’s and tomorrow’s Daily Dose of Support is a combination of support calls I have seen over the years and that is how to change the orientation of a part file. The reason I am breaking this into two articles is because there are different methods, one for Imported Models and another method for Feature Based Models created in SolidWorks.

The orientation of Imported Parts when brought into SOLIDWORKS as we all know we are at the mercy of what the “designer” in some other CAD Software thought was best for their application. So we can end up with a Front view that is twisted and at some obscure angle or with an Origin that is miles away from the actual part.


To correct this is actually a pretty simple process and can be used to cure several problems all at once. First things first correct any problems with the geometry. This means run Import Diagnostics, combine all Solid Bodies, patch all holes in surfaces, etc….

Once you have you model in a “workable” state you will need to do the following:

  1. Select a face or create a plane that you want to become one of your 3 Standard Planes and start a new Sketch.
  2. Generate 2 perpendicular lines in the proper orientation to represent 2 of the parts Axis.
  3. Create a new Coordinate System (Features toolbar, Reference Geometry), use the intersection of the lines as the Origin and the Line for the Axis (X, Y or Z). Do not forget to use the reverse direction to get the Axis in the correct direction.
  4. Save out the Part as an IGES, STEP, or any other neutral format, making sure that once the File of Type is selected you go to the Options.
  5. In the Options dialog box change the Output coordinate system to your new Coordinate System you created.
  6. Re-import the model back into SOLIDWORKS and it will now be in the orientation of the new Coordinate System and any model changes you made to correct bad geometry should carry over to the new part.

Please check back tomorrow to see how to change the orientation of a Feature Based Model created in SOLIDWORKS ( 

Josh Altergott

CATI Support Team Leader

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