CATIA, DWG and U3D Import, and Model Simplification in CAD Exchanger 3.9.0

Profound changes in the new CAD Exchanger release include 3 new formats, B-Rep simplification and mesh decimation add-on, improved Unity & SOLIDWORKS import, Linux & macOS usability, and validation properties.

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Maria Gazarkh
5 min read
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Welcome to our development depths! We pursue the route of expanding the coverage of CAD formats and deepening the existing features. All this is to address the increasing demands of our growing customer base. This fall we present CAD Exchanger 3.9.0 with three new formats (CATIA V5, DWG and U3D), geometry processing and validation properties improvements, enhanced Unity and SOLIDWORKS performance, and higher Linux and macOS usability.

CATIA V5 import

3D CAD model in CATIA and in CAD Exchanger

CATIA (Computer-Aided Three dimensional Interactive Application) is a multi-platform solution by Dassault Systemes, covering all stages of the product development: from concept and design to analysis and manufacturing. It is the leading CAD software and is dominating in such robust industries as aerospace and automotive. Among their users are Tesla Motors, Porsche, Volvo Group, Boeing, Bombardier, SpaceX, Virgin Galactic.

This October we open a new chapter by adding CATIA to the scope of CAD Exchanger. Version 3.9.0 reads B-Rep CAD geometry made in CATIA V5 R20 - R29. Our importer supports both parts (.catpart) and assembly (.catproduct) files.

DWG import

DWG is a proprietary format of 2D and 3D drawings created with AutoCAD and supported by AutoCAD, BricsCAD, DraftSight, IntelliCAD, Caddie, Esri, ZWCAD and many other vendors, including Open Design Alliance members.

From the 3.9.0 release, CAD Exchanger is able to support DWG objects product structure , geometry (B-Reps and meshes), and colors. We focused on the latest format versions - DWG 2013 and DWG 2018 - which are used most frequently on the market. Therefore software vendors can extend their C++, C#, and Java applications to convert, visualize, display online, or otherwise process this type of file.

U3D import

U3D model integrated into PDF file

U3D, or Universal 3D, is a format used to embed 3D interactive data and models into a PDF file.

These days, production workflows may require data interchange with multiple departments, external organizations, and customers, who don't necessarily have a CAD package at hand. That’s when commonly available PDF comes for help. With 3D data integrated into PDF, users can share technical reports, training materials, and design previews without a hitch.

To begin with, CAD Exchanger enabled software developers to import U3D files. Export will be delivered later on down the road. Subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to know.

3D model simplification

Mesh decimation

B-Rep simplification

In this release, we added a new SDK add-on - 3D Model Simplifier. It includes algorithms for mesh and B-Rep simplification.

B-Rep simplification and polygonal geometry decimation aims to make 3D models lighter and consequently easier to work with. It also removes detailed design elements to provide greater IP (Intellectual Property) protection, to avoid distortion of the CAE simulations results, to simplify reverse engineering and AR/VR rendering.

In the case of meshes, a new algorithm is able to reduce the number of triangles by 100x or even more (e.g. from hundreds of thousands to thousands) while preserving the overall look and shape. For B-Reps, it implies removing its holes, small, and invisible bodies.

Other improvements

Additional Unity plugin features

FBX materials display before and after CAD Exchanger improvements

Following the recent CAD Exchanger Unity plugin launch, we proceeded to improve its features and add new ones. Release 3.9.0 enables the following options:

  • Assigning custom shader to the imported model
  • Scaling the model during the import process
  • Sharing of materials and textures, instead of duplicating them

To achieve more efficient conversion, we reduced the memory footprint of Unity’s GameObject creation and improved conversion of various materials' appearances.

For those, who, for some reason, prefer using interim formats with Unity, we improved the export of FBX materials for its better compatibility with receiving applications, in particular, Unity.

Better SOLIDWORKS mesh import

Since April 2020, CAD Exchanger supports the display of the SOLIDWORKS lightweight components represented by polygons. This object’s state is used to improve the performance of large assemblies and to hide confidential details from a current viewer. Within a new release, reading of polygonal representations is available for SOLIDWORKS 2012 and 2013.

CAD Exchanger 3.9.0 was also improved in terms of polygonal representation import performance.

Higher Linux & macOS usability

CAD Exchanger for Linux is now packed in tar.xz, instead of zip, for more predictable unpacking behavior, in particular preserving symlinks.

CAD Exchanger SDK packages for Linux and macOS now contain ‘-rpath’ info in the native library to reduce the setup needed to run the application.

CAD Exchanger GUI for Linux runs without wrapper shell script on Linux. There is also good news for Apple users. CAD Exchanger GUI for macOS application was signed with a certificate and approved by Apple. Major guidelines compatibility guarantees a safe experience and seamless files import and export.

Improved validation properties

During the conversion, the CAD Exchanger algorithm compares properties in the output and input systems to verify the conversion correctness. This is realized through so-called validation properties, which include volume, surface area, center of gravity, and bounding boxes.

CAD Exchanger 3.9.0 incorporates the following validation properties enhancements:

  • More precise calculation of the bounding boxes from B-Rep representations
  • API for computing the volume of meshes

The latter is particularly useful for MaaS (Manufacturing-as-a-Service) developers, who need to run manufacturing cost analysis both for B-Rep and mesh models.

A detailed list is available in the CHANGES.txt file.

Our mission is to provide you with the seamless conversion experience whichever CAD package you prefer. If you are already a CAD Exchanger user, please feel free to share your feedback via contact form. But if you haven’t tried it yet, take a chance and start your 30-days trial right now:

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Maria Gazarkh

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