Export your own robot (writing config.json)

To export your own robot, first create a directory:

mkdir my-robot

Then edit my-robot/config.json, here is the minimum example:

    "documentId": "document-id",
    "outputFormat": "urdf"

The document-id is the number (below XXXXXXXXX) you can find in Onshape URL:


Once this is done, if you properly installed and setup your API key, just run:

onshape-to-robot my-robot

config.json entries

Here is the full list of possible entries for this configuration.

onshape_api, onshape_access_key and onshape_secret_key

Those allow you to specify the URL for onshape API (onshape_api), and your API key (onshape_access_key) and secret key (onshape_secret_key).


Even if this is possible to specify the api key in the config.json file, it is very sensitive and we recommend you to set them up as environment variable. See the following section: Setting up API key section.


This is the onshape ID of the document to be imported. It can be found in the Onshape URL, just after document/.



This should be either urdf or sdf to specify which output format is wanted for robot description created by the export.



This can be used to specify the name of the assembly (in the Onshape document) to be used for robot export. If none is used, the first assembly found will be used.


optional, no default

This argument can be used to use a specific workspace of the document. This can be used for specific branches ofr your robot without making a version. The workspace ID can be found in URL, after the /w/ part when selecting a specific version in the tree.


optional, no default

This argument can be used to use a specific version of the document instead of the last one. The version ID can be found in URL, after the /v/ part when selecting a specific version in the tree.

If it is not specified, the very last version will be used for import.


optional, default: “default”

This is the robot configuration string that will be passed to Onshape. An example of format:



optional, default: false

When adding custom frames to your model, the part that is used for positionning the frame is by default excluded from the output description (a dummy link is kept instead). Passing this option to true will keep it instead.


optional, default: false

If you use pure shapes approximations, the collisions in your description will not be meshes but shapes like boxes, cylinders etc. If you pass this argument to true, it will use the same output in the visual tag, making the visual similar to what is used for collisions.

This can be used for debugging, but also to lighten the robot visualization if it is complex during experiments and avoiding loading meshes just for visualization.


optional, default: true (needs openscad installed)

If you create pure shapes approximations of your parts, you will have .scad files sitting in your directory, this flag can be used to disable using them (if false, full meshes will be then used for collisions).


optional, default: 0

If you want to use pure shape as safety check for collisions, you can use this parameter to add some extra dilatation to all of them.

jointMaxEffort and jointMaxVelocity

optional, default: 1 and 20

Those parameters can be used to specify the values that will be included in the joint entries.

Alternatively, they can be dictionaries associating named joints to the values.


optional, default: {}

This dict can be used to override the mass and inertia computed by Onshape for a specific part. See example below.


optional, default: false

This flag can be set if there is no dynamics. In that case all masses and inertia will be set to 0. In pyBullet, this will result in static object (think of some environment for example).


optional, default: []

This can be a list of parts that you want to be ignored during the export.

Note: the dynamics of the part will not be ignored, but the visual and collision aspect will.


optional, default: None

This can be used as the opposed of ignore, to import only some items listed in the configuration (all items not listed in whitelist will be ignored if it is not None)


optional, default: None

Can override the color for parts (should be an array: [r, g, b] with numbers from 0 to 1)



Prepends a string to the paths of STL files. This is helpful for ROS users as they often need to specify their robot_description package.



Specifies the robot name.



Specifies a file with XML content that is inserted into the URDF/SDF at the end of the file. Useful to add things that can’t be modelled in onshape, e.g. simulated sensors.


optional, default: “no”

Can be “no”, “visual”, “collision” or “all”.

This can be used to merge STLs file of the same link into one unique STL. It is actually better combined with simplifySTLs, that can be used to reduce the STL file sizes.

Note: this will only merge visual for visual, see ``mergeSTLsCollisions``


optional, default: false

STLs used for collisions will also be merged if this flag is true.


optional, default: “no”

Can be “no”, “visual”, “collision” or “all”.

If this is set, the STL files will be reduced (see maxSTLSize). This requires meshlab tool (sudo apt-get install meshlab).


optional, default: 3

This is the maximum size (in M) of STL files before they are reduced by simplifySTLs.


optional, default: true

With this option (enabled by default), the collisions=true configuration will be passed when exporting STL meshes (and NOT dynamics), in order to retrieve simplified mesh parts from OnShape.

This is a way to approximate your robot with simpler meshes.


optional, default: []

This is an array of commands that will be executed after the import is done. It can be used to be sure that some processing scripts are run everytime you run onshape-to-robot.

Example config.json file

Here is an example of configuration:

    // You should store those three in environment variables
    "onshape_api": "https://cad.onshape.com",
    "onshape_access_key": "[KEY]",
    "onshape_secret_key": "[SECRET]",

    // Can be found in the URL when editing the assembly
    "documentId": "483c803918afc4d52e2647f0",
    // If not specified, the first assembly will be used
    "assemblyName": "robot",
    // Can be urdf or sdf
    "outputFormat": "urdf",
    // The frames parts are kept in the final file
    "drawFrames": false,
    // Collisions (pure shapes) are also used in the visual section
    "drawCollisions": false,
    // Wether or not the scan for SCAD files (pure shapes) should be done
    "useScads": true,
    // Masses, com and inertias will be zero (can be used if you import a static
    // field for example)
    "noDynamics": false,
    // Should the STLs of the same link be merged?
    "mergeSTLs": "no",
    // Should we simplify STLs files?
    "simplifySTLs": "no",
    // Maximum size (M) of STL files to run simplification (required meshlab)
    "maxSTLSize": 3,

    // Those can be used to configure the joint max efforts and velocity, and
    // overriden for specific joints
    "jointMaxEffort": {
        "default": 1.5,
        "head_pitch": 0.5
    "jointMaxVelocity": 22,

    // This can be used to override the dynamics of some part (suppose it's a compound
    // which dynamics is well specified)
    "dynamics": {
        "motorcase": {
            "mass": 0.5,
            "com": [0, 0.1, 0],
            "inertia": [0.1, 0, 0,
                        0, 0.1, 0,
                        0, 0, 0.1]
        // "fixed" can be used to assign a null mass to the object, which makes it fixed (non-dynamics)
        "base": "fixed"

    // Some parts can be totally ignored during import
    "ignore": [

Testing your robot in simulator

You can then use the onshape-to-robot-bullet my-robot command to give a try to your robot.