Importing Canvas Mesh to Inventor workflow


Hi Guys,

I’ve been trying for the life of me to get a scan into inventor.

My application is industrial mechanical design, basically taking scans of existing features - Pipework, Structural members etc . I have a 3D model of a building and would like to overlay scans on it of all the nitty gritty details I don’t have drawings for, would save me measuring it.

What do I have to do to the mesh before importing it to inventor ? Surface it somehow ? Inventor freaks out with so many faces, need some way to retain the detail ( So no reducing faces etc ) and turn it into a usable file.

I’ve tried Mesh Enabler plugin, that freezes inventor if its a normal room size scan.

Is there some feature I can use in 3DS max ?

I have the choice to use either Skanect or canvas also have the full product design suite at my disposal as well. I’d rather not use Scan to Cad service as that would get pricey with the amount of scans I want to be able to use.


Hi Aaron! I am not an Inventor expert by any means but I did a bit of googling to see if I could find anything useful for you. This is what came up for Inventor:

If you’ve gone through the steps described, my hunch is that Inventor isn’t meant to handle such a dense mesh (and
the last link hints that it might not be the right tool for the job) — and it won’t really matter whether it’s from Canvas or Skanect. However, you could try decimating the mesh first using something like Simplygon, or built-in features in MeshLab (a free open-source tool). I think 3DS Max also has a poly count decimation feature?

If you’re comfortable with 3DS Max, that program (I think, but have not tried myself) should handle the mesh just fine, and you could trace out the detail required there and then bring it into Inventor. At that point you’re basically doing a very manual version of Scan To CAD though so I’m not sure if it’s practical, but it would be a solution. Another route would be to try to do whatever it is that you’re doing in Inventor inside 3DS Max. Is there something specific about Inventor you need, or is it just the most comfortable?

This is one big reason we built Scan To CAD :slight_smile: - most architecture, design, etc. tools just aren’t made to handle 3D scan data. Totally get that cost isn’t practical for every use case, so let me know if the information above is useful.

(Caveat: again, not an expert at Inventor, so please excuse if I am sharing stuff you’ve already seen!)


Hi Schiff,

Thanks for the detailed reply.

Basically Inventor is a parametric modelling program, whereas 3DS max is more so built to handle objects like the mesh, The more and more I dive into it, I am realizing, unless the mesh is originally from a parametric shape, I don’t think I am going to have much luck with it in inventor, unless there is something I can do to it in another program first. Failing that, We always have Navisworks to open it with and take dimensions from that.

I think I may have already looked at those links, but i will have another troll through to so if I have missed anything vital !



There will be a way… what is the format of the inventor model?, I can get the autocad scans as stl format to work…
…ok you can import the model as “stl format”…
there is a couple of other options for export at this link:
but you really just want to care about importing stl.
if you use windows, at there store page you can find 3d builder which can export stl to obj…or obj to stl
I’ve seen this so many times on here where people have trouble with file format issues…
there are a couple of model converters out their but their scope encompasses very little.