Technological Innovation

What is ISO 10303-21:2018?


ISO 10303-21:2018, also known as STEP (Standard for the Exchange of Product model data) Part 21, is an international standard for representing and exchanging digital product data. It defines a methodology to describe product information in a neutral format that can be shared across different computer-aided design (CAD) systems and other software applications. In this article, we will explore the key aspects of ISO 10303-21:2018 and its significance in enabling interoperability between different software tools in the manufacturing industry.

of ISO 10303-21:2018

ISO 10303-21:2018 provides a standardized approach to representing and exchanging product data using a file-based format. The standard defines a structured storage mechanism called "an exchange structure" that organizes the product information into a hierarchical structure. This structure consists of "entities" that represent various aspects of the product, such as geometric shapes, materials, properties, and relationships between components. Each entity is described using attributes and their corresponding values.

The exchange structure in ISO 10303-21:2018 utilizes a syntax based on the EXPRESS modeling language. EXPRESS allows precise definition of the data schema, including data types, constraints, and relationships. The use of a standardized schema facilitates seamless data exchange between different software tools, regardless of their underlying implementation or programming languages.

Benefits and Applications

ISO 10303-21:2018 has significant benefits for manufacturers, suppliers, and users of CAD and other related software tools. By adopting this international standard, organizations can achieve seamless data exchange throughout the product lifecycle, from design and manufacturing to maintenance and support. Some of the key benefits of ISO 10303-21:2018 include:

Interoperability: ISO 10303-21:2018 enables interoperability between different software applications, eliminating the need for time-consuming and error-prone manual data conversions or re-creating models in each system.

Data Integrity: The standard ensures that product information is accurately represented and reliably exchanged, reducing the risk of data loss or discrepancies that may occur when using proprietary formats.

Collaboration: With ISO 10303-21:2018, organizations can collaborate more effectively by easily sharing product data with partners, suppliers, and customers who may use different software tools.


ISO 10303-21:2018 plays a vital role in achieving seamless data exchange and interoperability between different software tools in the manufacturing industry. By providing a standardized format for representing and exchanging product data, organizations can streamline their operations, reduce costs, and improve collaboration throughout the entire product lifecycle. As the manufacturing industry becomes increasingly global and interconnected, the adoption of ISO 10303-21:2018 becomes even more critical for ensuring efficient and accurate communication of product information across different systems.


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