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Evaluating lightweight 3D graphics formats for product visualization and data exchange

Nathan William Hartman


As companies continue to embrace product lifecycle management practices to improve business operations, the ability to create and communicate 3D product representations throughout the enterprise is becoming increasingly important. Given the geographically dispersed product design and manufacturing scenarios that are commonplace in industry today, companies are grappling with decisions regarding the use of specific formats and mechanisms to promote communication and collaboration processes. Companies that design and produce particularly large artifacts, whether in terms of geometry scale or in terms of object complexity, experience problems of portability and scalability when using vendor-supported file formats. Current solutions tend to center on “lightweight” file formats as one of the enabling technologies that support this distributed collaboration. The recent availability of these lightweight file formats has caused confusion and uncertainty in industry relative to their use in specific situations, especially when trying to capture annotations, accurate geometry, and manufacturing information for example. This paper presents the results of applied research examining the capabilities of three common lightweight formats and their ability to retain product information upon translation out of the native CAD database. Also included is a checklist and use-case information for these lightweight formats based on interviews of representative industry personnel.


CAD, lightweight formats, product lifecycle management, industry research

Full Text: PDF

The Journal of Applied Science & Engineering Technology (JASET) is an open access, peer reviewed, double blind, journal for the dissemination of applied technical scholarship.  Topics are in the combined domain of engineering, technology and applied science and focus on solving technical problems in the spirit of “Scholarship of Application” as described in Ernest L. Boyer’s landmark work, Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate.  In summary, the Scholarship of Application disseminates results from the application of technical knowledge to consequential problems.  Applied scholarship is welcome from academia, industry and government agencies.


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