Web based viewer for 3D CAD models

Business Need

This solution was developed for a supplier who supplies various parts to OEMs. The sales team of the supplier, who carry a lot of materials/catalogue, also would like to show their parts in a web browser, preferably on the mobile platforms. For this reason, the supplier wanted us to develop an application which would load the tessellated model in a web browser.

The client’s business situation requires

  1. Solidworks native 3d models and step files should be loaded in the browser.
  2. Possibility to choose the view and various model sections.
  3. Possibility to create Markups (Dimensioning, Ballooning and Annotations)
  4. Assign Solidworks model colour to the 3d web model.
  5. Provide below features in the web browser:
    1. Pick
    2. Drag
    3. Move
    4. Rotate

Challenges Faced

Lots of challenges were faced in defining the application spec development phase and the Proof of Concept phase. Few of them are listed here:

  1. To choose the right technology which is scalable and reliable
  2. How to effectively load huge models considering the internet bandwidth
  3. Whether to make it completely web-based or have a part mobile application

Our Solution

After careful consideration, we decided to use JSON, WebGL and ASP .Net to develop the prototype. Since the model had to be displayed in the browser for demonstrative purpose, we decided to show the tessellated model in the browser. Creating tessellation for the model was both times intensive and process-intensive. To overcome, this problem we maintain the tessellated data in an XML format.

An example of the input model (“Acron high crown nut_61_ai.sldprt”) and its corresponding tessellated model is shown below

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 10.41.18 PM

a. Original Model

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 10.41.58 PM

b. Tessellated Model in Browser

It was also ensured that the XML data corresponds to the latest version of the model in the server. This is achieved by updating the XML file in the server, whenever a new version of the model is being checked-in to their PLM system. This XML data which is of small size is used by the application to convert the data and load it in the browser. We also do an XML schema validation to check any corruption or loss of data while retrieving from the server.

The sample XML file generated and stored in the server will look like

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 10.42.58 PM

 

Export of dimensions and annotation details into a PDF format was proposed for the later phase. This PDF will be uploaded to the server and will be used by the design team to create specific parts as per customer requirements.

Some of the features provided in the applications include

  1. Zoom
  2. Select
  3. Rotate
  4. Create Annotation
  5. Create Dimensions

Results:

  • The sales team of the client found this application to be very useful.
  • The modified model was saved and sent back to the design team instantly, thereby reducing their sales visits to the customer.
  • The design intent of the customers was well captured and document.
  • The saved model was used to correlate the changes performed by the user after receiving the request from the customer.
  • The application doesn’t require any applications to be installed on the mobile platform, as it is completely web based.


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