Web based viewer for 3D CAD models

Web based viewer for 3D CAD models

by CADVision Team | 2019


About the Client

This solution was developed for a supplier of standard components to OEMs. The sales team of the suppliercarry a lot of catalogue and presentations to their potential clients. The supplier at times is also accompanied by a technical pre-sales member to demonstrate the 3D models in the SolidWorks session and provide a detailed explanation if required. The client has a large sales network and a limited technical support team.

Requirement

The potential customer is just interested in viewing of the models to get a better understanding of the design. Many times, the sales team is unable to carry all the 3D models of the borrowed parts. For this reason, the supplier wanted us to develop two parts of an application. The first part will extract the tessellation information of the 3D Models into an XML format. The second part is to develop a web-based viewer for the XML data generated.

The required functionalities are as below:

  1. SolidWorks will load the 3D models in native format and neutral format to generate XML file
  2. The browser plug-in should support viewing of the XML data generated.
  3. User should have flexibility to choose the views, section views, create markups(texts and annotations)
  4. Expected features in the web browser:
  • Pick
  • Drag
  • Move
  • 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:

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

Solutions

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 optimized XML schema.

An example of the input model (“Acron high crown nut”) and its corresponding tessellated model is shown in the above image

We also ensured that the XML data corresponds to the latest version of the model is pushed back into the server. This is achieved by updating the XML file in the server, whenever a new version of the model is being saved after adding certain annotations texts and markups. These markups and text are usually the customer feedback which the sales team had to pass it to the technical team. This XML data size is also optimized to keep the file to a smaller size for easy download by web and load it in the browser. We also perform an XML schema validation to check any corruption or loss of data while retrieving from the server.

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.

Benefits

  • 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 does not require any major installations as it is completely web based.

Note: Solid Edge is a trademark or registered trademark of Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Inc.

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