Use your product construction data for interactive 3D presentations.

Interactive product representations in 3D increase customers buying intention and decrease returns through more interaction and better imagery. The content creation seems complex but most manufacturers already have the basis for good looking 3D product presentations without knowing it: Their digital product construction data in CAD files.

Mario Rudhart
Co-Founder of VRxs

What is CAD?

Computer Aided Design describes the use of computers to modify, analyze and create product information data. CAD can be used to construct two-dimensional (2D) drawings or three-dimensional (3D) models. In this short overview we will always refer to 3D models when talking about CAD files.

Where is it used?

You’ll find CAD files in nearly every industry from automotive and architecture to home appliances and consumer goods. CAD files effectively help to increase productivity and the quality of the product development cycle of physical products. CAD files are also used as a basis in terms of digital content creation and advertising. The CAD files enable realistic renderings or even complex movies and clips to simulate product functionalities and details in an exploded view. For this, CAD-Files are processed and rendered on a high-performance computer to create pictures or videos.

Why CAD are unsuitable for real time rendering

Since CAD files are mostly very large in size and look unrealistic or not even close to the actual product, they cannot be used for real-time rendering without post-processing:

  • Appearance
  • The CAD-File usually shows the architecture and information which are important for production. All this information leads to a very technical product presentation (see picture on the right)

  • File-Size
  • On one hand, file sizes are important if data is to be retrieved over the Internet. On the other hand, when files are rendered on our everyday devices (such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets), processors have difficulties processing the data. This might result in unsmooth or stuttering motion when turning and twisting the product.

Example: CAD of a drilling machine

Prepare perfect files for real time renderings

Due to the issues described, you should pay attention to the following points during preparation of your CAD-files to achieve best product representations in real time rendered 3D:

  • File format/ Data type
  • Convert into polygonal format such as .fbx or .obj to enable further processing of the product representation.

  • Polygon Count
  • Thinking about your customers and your product may help with this: For example: If your product and customers are very technical (e.g. in industrial use cases), you might save some polygons and still achieve good quality. The polygon count should be as low as possible, without risking any loss of desired quality. This often is a balancing act.

  • Important parts / hidden parts / interior parts
  • Try thinking like this: What are the main parts of my product? What should be seen? Is there anything I should definitely hide (e.g. patented components)? Is it possible to remove some details (e.g. drill holes)?

    This helps to reduce the model by removing parts which are not essential to show to your customers to get a great impression of your product. Models without animations can often be reduced to only the „shell"of the product without the viewer noticing.

  • Group Parts
  • To reduce complexity of the representation, you might group related parts or parts with same textures or materials.

  • Textures
  • Unicoloured products often enable the usage of a low-resolution texture. More detailed textures (e.g. products with complex patterns on the surface like shirts or shoes) should also be implemented in higher resolution.

Add Animations to your 3D representations

Your customers will want to know about the functionalities of your product. With 3D representations, they’re able to trigger functionalities on their own. Here are the three most common types of animations:

  • One-time animation, click triggered

  • The most used animations are one-time animations. They are triggered by the viewer and perform an action that shows an initial and a final state (e.g. exploded views).

    Example: click-triggered animation on drilling machine

  • Looped animations:

  • Continously moving components can be shown with looped animations. They start with loading the product and only end if you close the view.

    Looped animation on fan

  • Back and forth:

  • Back and forth animations are used if you’re able to reverse the animation by 50% and the motion is the same back- and forwards. This reduces complexity and saves unnecessary expenses in creation if you want to show only a motion without pre-defined final state.

    Back and forth animation on roboarm

    Conclusion on CAD and 3D

    Using 3D representations does not necessarily require a scan of your product. You can achieve good quality representations with your production information data.

    Of course there are many more detailed and technical processes if you want to prepare your files completely (e.g. light, materials,...). But I hope this will give you a brief overview of what to think about when using 3D product representations based on CAD files.

    If you don’t want to process and prepare your representations of your own, the VRxs ecosystem is always happy to help. Tell us about your product and use-case and we’ll find the best solution for your interactive representations.

    Mario Rudhart
    Co-Founder of VRxs

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