Use SolidWorks Models in an Apple iBook

Ibooks_iconSeveral months ago, Apple announced some major initiatives in electronic publishing, particularly for the primary and secondary school “e-textbook” market. As part of that initiative, Apple launched their free “iBooks Author” product.

iBooks Author allows anyone with a Mac (sorry, PC lovers) to create compelling content in the form of an iBook. This format works
really well with the incredibly-popular iPad device, and lots of people outside the “school textbook” market have been interested in the platform. It’s really quite easy to include videos, interactive widgets, and 3D models into an iBook.

If you’re interested in exploring the iBook format, as a SolidWorks user you’ll probably want to know how to get your models into iBooks Author. It turns out that the Mac supports Collada at the operating-system level, and anyone can preview and spin around Collada 3D models in recent versions of OS X. That being the case, Collada is also supported in iBooks…and it’s the only format.

How do you get SolidWorks files into Collada? There are a few ways. The simplest is to use the “Save As Collada” plug-in from The ad-in at SolidWorks Labs is provided “as-is, no warranty expressed or implied…” and it works for some people. It hasn’t been updated for a long time, though, so there’s a very good chance it won’t work for you. Don’t despair, because there is another way.

It’s now possible to save models from into Collada format. In order to make that option available, you need to have a paid account (not expensive). After uploading the model to (in SolidWorks, go to File > Publish To…) you log into from the web interface and Save As Collada. Personally, I love to use as-is for general publishing of models to iPhone and iPad, but if you
need Collada format for iBooks, this option works very well. Since you can also publish models from 3DVIA Composer to, you can get them into iBooks as well using this same method.


Jeff Setzer is Technical Services Manager at Graphics Systems, a SolidWorks Value Added Reseller with locations across Wisconsin and Illinois. He is a regular contributor to the Graphics Systems’ blog:, your source for SolidWorks, Simulation, Data Management, & Product  Communication Tips & Tricks.

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