Interactive 3D Environments Replace CAD Drawings

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Welcome to AECWeekly! According to Seemage CEO Chris Williams, people need a way to interact with the product data you sell. Thus his company offers what he terms, ways to facilitate communication by making product data interactive with interactive 3D environments. Adding to their portfolio of products that includes importers, intuitive 3D mockup and high performance viewer, Seemage released in July a plug-in for 3D PDF which will support the current Adobe u3D file format but also the future of 3D PDF. Read about it in this week’s Industry News.

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Industry News

Interactive 3D Environments Replace CAD Drawings
by Susan Smith

According to Seemage CEO Chris Williams, people need a way to interact with the product data you sell. Thus his company offers what he terms, ways to facilitate communication by making product data interactive with interactive 3D environments. Adding to their portfolio of products that includes importers, intuitive 3D mockup and high performance viewer,, Seemage released in July a plug-in for 3D PDF which will support the current Adobe u3D file format but also the future of 3D PDF.

With the release of this product, users can decide whether to publish 3D PDF files in Adobe’s u3D file format or in Seemage’s .smg file format, which Williams said provides up to 10 times the performance improvement over u3D as well as additional tools.

Seemage has targeted the mechanical CAD marketplace, although Williams said that their solutions would be valuable in AEC not only in the construction phase but in the maintenance phase of a building. “If you own a building, would you rather have 500 sheet drawings of the building or would you rather have one 3D interactive environment of the building? It’s also much easier for most people to read than a 2D drawing.”

The customer should have the ability to author additional content around the reused product data, not just simply viewing it. “If you’re a service person in the field, you don’t have any reason to view all the CAD data of the product, you want to see how to disassemble it, because the context is more important to you.”

u3D functionality from Adobe is actually Deep View technology from the company Right Hemisphere. The .smg plug-in from Seemage offers a higher level of interactivity in performance, according to Williams, including “ the ability to rotate x number of objects, the ability or speed at which you can select an object, or tool for a toolbar, all that is at a higher level of performance for the same number of components in the assembly that you’re looking at.”

With the .smg plug-in there is also a canned set of viewing parameters, so that if you want to see two components in an exploded view you can have the other components turned off. You can then just then drag and drop into the environment. Seemage also has a piece of patented technology called the Digger which you can put over the object or somewhere in your display, point at the assembly, then look at it in a magnified view or zoom down. You can also limit who has access to the functionality in .smg by turning it off inside the PDF file.

“All of our viewing functionality for our free viewer (downloadable from our website) is inside the actual PDF file as well,” noted Williams. All you need to use the plug-in is Acrobat 7. In order to see performance examples you can download a u3D example and a .smg example. All of the functionality of the plug-in can be put inside a Microsoft or ActiveX Control file.

PDF never really penetrated the engineering space, according to Williams. Only recently has Adobe targeted the engineering market, a climate where CAD vendors all provide their own viewing standards but none are open file formats.

In another announcement in July, Seemage announced that their customer, Alcatel Alenia Space, which builds satellite space programs, used Seemage solutions to improve product collaboration, creation of technical publications and the definition of assembly instructions. The company needed to lower the cost and delivery time of validating and qualifying satellites under design and construction.

“The context Alcatel Alenia created with Seemage was assembly and qualification procedures,” Williams explained. “They used to do that with a lot of text and 2D pictures, typical CAD/CAM drawings. They’ve moved completely away from that to 3D interactive environments that show someone this is how the things go together. This is how you test whether this is assembled correctly. Here are the procedures to tell if this leaks or not. You now have a 3D animation of sequences of what the person is supposed to do. The user can still interact with it because they’re using a viewer to view the animation but they can stop the viewer at any time. They can cut sections, measure, interrogate, rotate, in the context of a procedure. Many of the things they’re assembling they didn’t actually design from a CAD point of view, so they’re integrating an assembly which is a multiCAD assembly, but they’re doing it in our mockup tools instead of a CAD system.”

A CAD system is very complex, comprising a huge volume of data. Many people involved with the design don’t need the CAD system because they’re not designing themselves. Their job is show the sequence of how to put assemblies together to help personnel who have to physically assemble the componentry.

“Alcatel Alenia have replaced a lot of CAD and desktop publishing work with our tool,” Williams said. “They would have been building assembly drawings, assembly documentation which would be a combination of CAD stuff and more desktop publishing – i.e. text based procedures, with illustrations, which is now replaced with Seemage.”


Intergraph Corporation announced a distributor partnership with PowerLine Technology, Inc., a provider of engineering software for utility organizations. Under the terms of the agreement, G/Technology, Intergraph's integrated geofacilities management system, will be augmented with PowerLine's leading pole analysis software, applications employed by utilities to design and build overhead power lines in compliance with the National Electrical Safety Code (NESC).

McCormick Systems and Dexter + Chaney have combined to provide electrical and systems contractors with integrated accounting/estimating software.

McCormick’s electrical estimating software (Win 3000, Win 6000, Win 8000 and Win 12000 and additional products) and automated building systems products (ABS 3000, ABS 6000, ABS 8000 to ABS 12000 and more) are fully integrated with Forefront(R) Construction Suite construction management and accounting software from Dexter + Chaney.

What this means: The link between the Dexter + Chaney and McCormick software allows contractors who use software from the two companies to easily set up budgets for projects (in Forefront) without additional keystrokes.


Graphisoft just announced that they will be hosting the Virtual Construction Conference in Budapest, Hungary. The event will focus on technologies vital to the construction industry. The two-day program, starting on August 21, will feature presentations from companies such as Webcor, Navisworks, and Oracle and will explore how companies around the world are employing Virtual Construction technologies and processes to differentiate their business and improve their processes. For your reference, embedded below is the complete media alert with additional information.

Contract Awards

Deltek, provider of enterprise management software for project-focused organizations, announced that national nuclear energy services and technologies leader EnergySolutions has licensed Deltek Costpoint, Deltek's industry-leading enterprise resource planning solution designed specifically for sophisticated, project-driven organizations. The solution will handle EnergySolutions' sizable acquisition growth and regulatory compliance needs for over 2,000 employees across multiple locations.

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