Lost Layers

I’m exporting a simple drawing with 5 parts all on seperate layers in STEP format. When I import this drawing into my CAD software (Rhino) it opens with everything on one layer and the layer structure is gone. I’ve messed around with it a bit but cannot seem to find how to keep my layer structure intact when opening in Rhino.

I’ve also noticed that none of the sketches are saved in the export or not being imported when opened in Rhino. Export with all layers turned on and I’ve tried include hidden items.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

If you have 5 parts visible in your workspace and you export in STEP format, you are exporting only those parts. Sketches are not exported. Sketches are essentially disconnected from the bodies anyway. After you compete a body, the sketches are there for reference only.

FWIW, I recently exported some parts in STEP for a customer who then imported into Rhino. I’m not sure what translations are involved at the Rhino end but I can tell you that some of my geometry got distorted. In the pic below, the left image is a section of two parts and the right represents what Rhino sees. I don’t think your issue is at the Shapr3D end.


Hey Mike,

Thanks for taking the time to respond.  I did some digging and understand the sketches are separate in the STEP format.  From the Rhino end you have to import them separately but there seems no way to get this info from Shaper3d.  Perhaps there's more settings I haven't found yet.  My hopes to ask here was to save some time digging if someone already knows the answer. 

 I didn't have any problem with Rhino distorting my designs.  All came over very nice and tidy.  My hopes were that my Rhino import would retain the layer layout I had in my Shaper3d file.  Each part is on a separate layer.  If I was to import a file with dozens of layers it is going to import everything onto 1 layer.  Totally useless and very time consuming to redo all the layer organizing.  


Hi Rick,
There are no layers in Shapr3D. I’m not sure what you mean by layers, unless you are talking about folders within the Item List which consists of folders, bodies, sketches and planes. If you have multiple bodies visible in your workspace then one might consider that one layer. Export to STEP and the respective import with contain all those bodies again as if one layer. Sorry if I am misunderstanding your Rhino import situation.

Hey Mike

Yeah you’re correct. The items list in Shapr3d is in essence the layers manager in Rhino. Very similar in many regards. It’s where you can place geometry and solid bodies and interact with your model in many different ways using it. It’s one of the reasons I was hoping the STEP file would preserve that.

I’m bringing the shapr3d file into Rhino to set up the CAM work to send it to a cnc router. I’m just working through the process to see if I can incorporate Shapr3d into my work flow. For now I just rebuilt my layers/item list since it was a simple test project. Will be very time consuming for larger files.

Once again thank you for taking the time to talk this through.


Glad to help. Good luck with your Shapr3D-Rhino workflow!

Hello @Hempstalk, I can confirm that @TigerMike was right, the items manager is not equal with the layer management of Rhino. It helps to keep the Shapr3D workspace organized, but does not affect the output. There is one setting called Save Each First-Level Item Separately that may be helpful for you, it exports each solid body into a different folder within a .zip folder.

Thanks @KPeter_Shapr3D

I found that setting and exported a few files to try that work flow as well. I appreciate your feedback about the items list and export options. I managed to work though a simple text project this weekend.

Is there any export formats in Shapr3d that preserves the layer structure / item list when importing into other cad programs. I don’t have a business licence so I couldn’t try all the formats available but I’m curious.


Currently, none of the export formats maintain layers that are readable for Rhino, but we will look into that!

There is a pretty old Rhino forum post that can be a solution for you, please take a look at it if you have time:

Thanks @KPeter_Shapr3D

Appreciate the info on export formats and Rhino imports.  Also a big thanks for the link to the Rhino scripts.  Although not perfect I'm sure they will help speed up the process.