[Visualize] How Import Settings Affect Your Model Tree

When importing your geometry into Visualize, there are multiple options you can choose that will affect the way that your model is organized in the Visualize model tree. In this article, we’ll briefly cover each grouping option and what they do.

To facilitate this, we’ll be looking at two test files, an assembly and a multi body part along with their respective feature trees, shown below:


In this article, we’ll separate the part grouping options into two categories: Options that import appearances into Visualize and options that don’t import appearances into Visualize.

Options that don’t import appearances into Visualize


Importing your geometry using the flatten import setting causes Solidworks to ignore all groupings in your CAD file and imports all components as a single part. Let’s take a look at the model trees of the part and assembly respectively:


We can see that although the part file that we imported was a multibody part, the flatten import option functioned as expected, removing the appearances from both bodies and flattening the two bodies into one component in the model tree.

If we look at the assembly’s model tree, we can see that the flatten import option removed all appearances and ignored all subassembly classifications from the CAD model’s feature tree, importing each part file as its own component in the Visualize model tree without listing the name of the subassemblies that they belong to.

Options that do import appearances into Visualize


True to its name, the “Appearance” import option in Visualize imports your model with all of its appearances intact. It also organizes the model tree according to different appearances in your model. For instance, all blue components will be grouped together under one “component”.


Looking at the screenshots above, we can see the effects of importing using “Appearances” as our setting. All component names have been replaced with the names of the specific appearances used in the actual CAD model or (in regards to the multi-body part) generic color names.

Notice that each model tree shown above only has two groups: The Model and the Root folder. Since importing your file using “Appearance” creates the most basic model tree (in terms of innate grouping), “Appearance” is the recommended choice for users who wish to create their own custom model groups in Visualize.

NOTE: If a file is imported using the "Appearance" option, you cannot monitor or re-import your model.


The “Automatic” import setting uses the best combination among Layer/Appearance, Appearance/Layer, Layer, and Appearance to mimic the way the product is assembled in real life.


We can see from the above model trees that Visualize has combined some of the aspects of different import settings. For instance, it has retained the basic assembly/sub-assembly tree structure in the “Headset Assembly” but when the model tree is expanded to its bottom layers, we can see that each component is grouped according to their appearance.

Retain Structure

Retain Structure preserves the original CAD model’s grouping and tree hierarchy, while simultaneously bringing in the appearances of the model.


Looking at the model trees above, we can see that “Retain Structure” has preserved the original Feature Tree organization as the Assembly and Part file. “Retain Structure” has even gone so far as to list the different bodies and faces of each body for each component.

Using this import setting can bring in an extremely high number of components into the Model Tree and can therefore adversely affect Visualize’s performance with larger model sets.

Import Options that are geared towards Non-Solidworks CAD Models

The Import Options for “Group/Appearance”, “Layer”, “Layer/Appearance” and “Appearance/Layer” are all geared for Autodesk Alias .wire files and thus are not recommended for bringing in Solidworks .sldprt or .sldasm files. Nevertheless, I’ve posted each import option below along with their description:


(Specific to Autodesk Alias .wire files) Retains the group hierarchy within the .wire file, subdividing or subgrouping items based on the appearance, color, and appearance that is assigned. Appearances ARE imported when using this Import option.


Imports based on which surfaces are assigned to layers within the CAD package, ignoring any appearance, color, appearance assigned. All surfaces assigned to each layer in the CAD file are imported as a single part. Appearance are NOT imported when using this import option.


Order is important. Favors layers first, then appearance second. Appearances ARE imported using this option.


Order is important. Favors appearance first, then layers second. Appearances ARE imported using this option.


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