History of the IGES file.
In 1980, a United States Air Force project called ICAM (Integrated Computer-Aided Manufacturing) brought together all the disparate software pieces and processes involved in its aerospace manufacturing to improve efficiency and cut costs. The result was IGES, which soon went beyond military applications to other types of manufacturing.
Despite its age, many people still use IGES today — even though it hasn’t changed a lot since 1996. Newer formats like STEP are also popular.
How to use an IGES file.
Decades ago, IGES was one of the first computer-aided breakthroughs for US military design. Here’s how you can use it today:
IGES files specify the geometry needed to construct components. Drafters use IGES to create technical drawings with multiple views and their given dimensions.
For simpler designs, engineers use IGES to share surface translations of a particular file, as opposed to a solid model. This works well for 2D components, although it can be limiting compared to other CAD file types — like DWG or STL.
Discover more vector file types
Pros and cons of IGES files.
Get to know the IGES advantages and disadvantages before deciding to use them in your next project.
Advantages of IGES files.
- The ASCII text format stores IGES files, making them small and easy to share.
- Because IGES is one of the oldest CAD formats, many CAD applications support it, making the files simple to open across compatible software.
Disadvantages of IGES files.
- IGES hasn’t been standardized since 1996, meaning the format is not as up-to-date and innovative as other, newer formats. CAD has come a long way since the first applications of IGES, and even by the 1990s there were far more sophisticated ways of storing CAD data.
- It can be challenging to convert IGES files to different file types and back again. ASCII data is the basis for these files, which means there isn’t a lot of room to convert them. Any changes in the data during conversion may lead to errors that need to be repaired.
- IGES handles surface geometry well, but most CAD applications work better with solid models. This can cause errors, which could affect product design if not corrected in time.
How to open an IGES file.
Most CAD programs and any text editor will open an IGES file, both on Windows and Mac. Locate and double-click on your file. Then, choose the program you want to use to open the IGES file from the list of options.
You can’t use a web browser to open an IGES file, although Android and iOS offer some apps that can help.
IGES files: frequently asked questions.