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3D CAD Viewers

3D CAD Viewers

3D CAD Viewers

Can anyone recommend an alternative to eDrawings? Currently we use this on the shop floor to view machine stations/sub-assemblies during the build phase and it is killing the team of assembly technicians as it is so slow.
Has anyone used Glovius?

RE: 3D CAD Viewers

I don't have a recent version of Bricscad, but I've used it to open and edit 100meg 3D AutoCAD files and the resulting files are still usable in AutoCAD. It's pretty fast (actually faster than AutoCAD), but my desktop and laptop are pretty quick.

So strange to see the singularity approaching while the entire planet is rapidly turning into a hellscape. -John Coates


RE: 3D CAD Viewers

Thanks dik. It looks like Briscad is for structural engineering.
I'm looking for a viewer for SolidWorks files.

RE: 3D CAD Viewers

Yes SW Composer is useful but I'm looking for a like for like viewer in comparison with eDrawings.
Looking at Glovius and SolidView.

RE: 3D CAD Viewers

I use it for that, but it's an excellent CAD program and can be used as a viewer for 3D files. It's a 'full blown' general CAD program, not necessary structural. When I first got it, over a decade back, nearly two, it was nearly as good as the full blown AutoCAD and it cost less than AutoCAD LT. It's one of the best programs I've used. I didn't update after the first few editions because I'm not a CAD operator. I was using release 12 when release 14 came out. I had a copy of release 13 that I hadn't installed. Currently using release 13 platinum.

Operationally, it's almost identical to AutoCAD and no need to learn a new program.

So strange to see the singularity approaching while the entire planet is rapidly turning into a hellscape. -John Coates


RE: 3D CAD Viewers

If the only thing that the shop floor people will be doing is viewing the drawings, why not simply publish them as PDF's and view then using something like Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is freeware?

John R. Baker, P.E. (ret)
Irvine, CA
Siemens PLM:

The secret of life is not finding someone to live with
It's finding someone you can't live without

RE: 3D CAD Viewers

Thanks Dik. I was using SW Composer 2021 and I agree it's very good but in this case I need something a little less complex for assembly techs.

@JohnRBaker - the main purpose is to view 3D assembly files in order to be able to assemble a machine. The problem with eDrawings is it is extrmeley slow. Rotate it and it takes about 10 seconds for anything to happen, in a large file at least. I've tested out a few other options today including 3D Tool, CADViewer, Glovius & SolidView. Of these 3D Tool is very good. Has just the right amount of functionlity and is not bloated. So I think this is what I will be proposing.

RE: 3D CAD Viewers

JohnBaker's question seems to be a good one, so I'm wondering why you would brush off his suggestion.
One reason I can think of is that you don't use drawings at all. Do you not prepare drawings?
Do your shop personnel try to assemble machines by reference to a 3D CAD model with eDrawings alone? Wow are you attempting model-based definition this way?

Another possible reason to consider Adobe Acrobat PDF is that it can save and display 3D model geometry, including part layers that you can switch on and off, and tools to measure dimensions.

RE: 3D CAD Viewers


If they don't make drawings and don't have manufacturing engineers to do process planning, then the assemblers need some clue. It also might mean no need for the ability to read anything but part numbers, saving considerably in low-literacy or mixed-language factories.

He's posted on machine building before: https://www.eng-tips.com/userthreads.cfm?pid=404&a... so I assume this is mainly one-off machines of some series that has very common sub-elements, but used in customized arrangements. If so, then the engineers can "build" the machine as a CAD model, knowing the sub-elements work, but it's a lot of work to create the process documents to deal with each component.

Maybe they are pushing the full CAD model to the floor instead of individual sub-assemblies and then simplified representations of the sub-assemblies at the top assembly level. Personal experience - got a top assembly one time that turned with the agility of an ocean liner. Found that some nitwit got a model of a motor from the supplier that had individual windings in the rotor and the frame as well as brushes. Went with a simplified rep (ProE/CREO) of just the shaft, housing, and mounting feet and the top assembly could be turned in real time.

RE: 3D CAD Viewers

So just to clarify, I work with a machine building company. We design and build bespoke machinery so almost everything is custom, rarely do we do anything that is the same.
So after design, we order all the tooling (very little made in-house). Machine is designed in stations (aka sub-assemblies). Stations are assembled and usually mounted on a base frame which would either be a welded frame or an else an aluminium extrusion profile frame.
We do create a pack of physical paper drawings and pass over to assembly techs. This have isometric view and exploded views.
Most of the assembly techs use eDrawings however to view the station and do their assembly work. This software package is very slow, i.e. for CAD files that have even a small level of complexity (high number of parts or patterns), rotating a model or hiding parts takes forever. So that is why I'm seekin an alternative to eDrawings.
I have used 3D PDFs and it's the same story with this - rotating a model is very slow I find, even on a reasonable powerful workstation PC with a good good CAD based graphics card like an Nvidia RTX 4000.
I hope I'm making myself clear.

RE: 3D CAD Viewers

Give a hint - how many holes and fasteners are used at each station? Are the techs given models that are only those parts or are they given the top level finished machine?

Why are they using eDrawings at all? Are the drawings unclear? Are there no assembly process drawing?

RE: 3D CAD Viewers

There might be between a hundred & several hundred in each station. One cannot really put a number on this as it varies from machine to machine.
Techs are given top level assemblies as well as station models.
I would think it is fairly obvious why we used a CAD viewer, if there are any queries then it is a very good reference to view hidden parts for example. A 2D drawing might not always show everything clearly but the 3d model can be manipulated in any direction to provide further clarity, parts can be hidden, made transparent etc.

RE: 3D CAD Viewers

Are you using directly Solidworks format files instead of exporting the model to an eDrawings native format?

It would also surprise me if any viewers were faster - it costs a huge amount of money to develop interpreters for the various formats, so a single company will supply the same translator to dozens of viewer companies who can then add the various interactive elements on top of that.

One could simplify by eliminating all the hole geometry for fasteners prior to export to eDrawings native format. The assemblers can see the hole on the actual part and only need to know which fastener they need - which should be on the process sheet anyway.

A process drawing tells the assemblers the order and locations and a process sheet tells which parts to assemble and when. I suppose this is the outcome of getting rid of good drafting as a job skill and eliminating manufacturing engineers from writing assembly process information.

RE: 3D CAD Viewers

Hi Finglas,
Thank you for the more detailed explanation. It helps a lot to understand what you're working on, your team's activities and the resources you have at your disposal.


Quote (finglas)

A 2D drawing might not always show everything clearly

Somebody doesn't know how to draw proper drawings.
Don't take that as disrespect; it isn't meant that way. But I do poke the badger sometimes. Good drawing technique is not properly taught in most schools and it takes years to fully develop, even a decade in many cases. Having worked in a design environment with assemblies of 1000's of parts, being installed in models of 10,000 and even 100,000 parts, I have faced the problem of seeing "the forest for the trees" when trying to painstakingly prepare a sufficiently detailed drawing. This doesn't come easily, but if you work at it, you should be able to find ways to fully define your assemblies.

For the sake of trying to offer some help (and not just come across as a snob, ehh) have you considered exporting your CAD models to a different format such as STEP or IGS which might simplify the model and give you more choices of CAD viewer to use? I was kind-of expecting the PDF format to work, but apparently not.
What about breaking your master assembly into smaller/simpler sub-assemblies and putting them in the viewer? If, for example, the "motor" sub-assembly can be turned off when you view the "gearbox" sub-assembly then you can reduce the number of components being rendered.

RE: 3D CAD Viewers

Make certain that your assembly team is importing jt models, not native 3d CAD or even step files. If they're not importing jt (or other lite format) files then its no wonder they're struggling, even fast dedicated CAD stations will bog if you try to open native CAD in a viewer. I've mostly used TeamCenter Visualization for working with lite models as my employers have had TCe, but have helped suppliers get set up with JT2Go and its worked well as a free alternative.

IME most assembly teams have had PCs to reference lite 3d models for 10-15 years now. Even on high-volume lines design changes happen, variation unit-unit happens, hiring/firing happens, and questions arise from all of it. Lite 3d models answer most questions more fully and faster than 2d prints, and dont require opening/searching multiple files. Laptops are also dirt cheap today and usually needed for quality/other purposes, so there's no good reason not to enable the shop floor with lite 3d. Technically yes, every part and assembly should be fully defined and manufacturable from 2d prints alone but doing so adds time and potential confusion which ultimately increases cost, so providing 2d and 3d is common.

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