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How to convert FBX (FilmBox v5/v6/v7,.fbx) to DGN (MicroStation)?

PolyTrans|CAD+DCC performs mathematically precise CAD, DCC/Animation, GIS and BIM 3D file conversions into all key downstream 3D packages and file formats. Okino software is used and trusted throughout the world by many tens of thousands of 3D professionals in mission & production critical environments, backed by respectable personal support directly from our core development team.



FBX is a 3D 'digital asset interchange' file format that had been pushed on the 3D industry by Autodesk after they acquired it from the bankruptcy assets of its prior owners, Alias Research and Kaydara of Canada. FBX has its placed in the DCC/Animation world but it does have its limitations, given that it is a closed and proprietary file format of Autodesk.

Note: if you are one of the many people who use FBX to convert data out of Navisworks, Revit, AutoCAD or Inventor then please use DWF-3D file format and Okino's DWF-3D import converter instead. It is a night and day difference but little known except to our core Okino users. Likewise, use our native program support for 3ds Max, Maya and Cinema-4D rather than use FBX.

FBX supports all the common attributes of a DCC/Animation file format such as mesh geometry with vertex normals and vertex colors, non-solids NURBS ('old school NURBS'), lights, cameras, hierarchy, bones and mesh skinning (deformations), materials and textures. In basic terms, it is similar to the capabilities of the COLLADA and VRML2/X3D file formats, and to Okino's long standard BDF data translation file format.

Okino has a very long history associated with FBX as it created the very first and fully implemented set of FBX import and export converters in 2002, with full animation, skinning and trimmed NURBS support. This was long before anyone had much heard of FBX. And to this very day we are still the only company that actively ships and supports FBX v5 (Kaydara), v6 (Alias) and v7 (Autodesk). However, FBX was just one of many 'not invented here' file formats which came to glut the 3D market in the 2005-2007 era, many of which petered away over time.

A key reason for its early adoption, throughout the 3D industry, was the availability of a free and officially supported (but closed) FBX SDK from Autodesk.

The downsides of the FBX file format is that (1) it has stagnated in recent years, (2) it is based on a legacy material model and not on modern PBR, (3) it is based on legacy lighting models and not on physically based lighting, and (4) it is a closed file format which only Autodesk can update or change. Otherwise, these restrictions have made it easier for software developers to implement FBX just once and then not have to worry about costly yearly revisions.



DGN is a 2D/3D file format, with its roots going back to the early 1980s, that is used as the native file format of such programs as Bentley's MicroStation and Intergraph's PDS software packages. Relative to deep history, DGN could be considered a competitor or rival to the Autodesk DWG file format. Okino considers both DGN and DWG rather "crude" and old file formats, depending on what vintage of file is used and whether the files contain ACIS-SAT/Parasolid "BREP solids" geometry or just 2D/3D vector geometry.

Okino considers a DGN V8 file to be of two varieties: (1) "GIS" like models defined using basic primitives like lines, curves, arcs and 3D objects defined by the extrusion and revolution of these basic elements - these types of files are typically glutted with an enormous number of basic elements which can result in massive scenes that can very slow to display and take up a lot of memory. (2) The second variety of DGN file uses the more modern "BREP solids" geometry type to define the 3D objects as lighter weight and more efficient NURBS surfaces and solids.

Okino spent over 20 years developing its DGN importers and exporters. As such, we understand the nuances of DGN and its related conversion issues. Please refer to our DGN importer WEB page which has extensive information on (1) the history of DGN and when to use DGN, (2) how to import massive DGN files (such as PDMS 3D plants, oil refineries, etc), (3) how to import from AVEVA PDMS and Intergraph PDS, and (4) our suggestions about using STEP or VRML2 as alternative conversion methods from Bentley's MicroStation.