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Importing 3D product models - when to give up and do from scratch?

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So I'm at the stage in a project where I'm choosing sanitaryware, and I want to bring in a model of a WC. The manufacturer I'm looking at, each different product has a different selection of CAD files to download. Some are 2D only, some are 3D only. For the 3D ones, there are 6 or 7 different file formats, and some products have all of those or some of those or just one of those.

 

My ideal is a solid object, not a mesh, partly because meshes seem to cause VW to slow right down and partly because they don't section properly.

 

I did a test run on one, where there are several 3d formats. Each gave a different result - some came in as meshes, some as groups of NURBS surfaces, some would convert to solids, some would allow stitch&trim, and so on. The best, in that case, was a STP file which came straight in as a group of generic solids - hooray!

 

However, when I got to the actual product I wanted, of course there was no STP file. And maybe even if there had been, it wouldn't have worked in that case.

 

All this messing around takes a lot of time... time I could have used just to model from scratch - maybe. A toilet bowl is not so simple to model from scratch.

 

My question - has anyone worked out a good strategy for deciding when to give up and model from scratch? For example - check whether certain file types are available, choose most promising one, try standard conversion procedure, if successful good, if not, give up?

 

File types and conversion regimes you've found to be mostly or usually successful? When to not even try?

 

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...does anyone actually manage to use imported product models?

 

I've been trying to use various sanitaryware models over the past few days. Hardly any of them are any good at all.

 

Almost universally they are way, way too detailed. I end up with a 5MB model of a washbasin, to put into my model of a whole building that is 200MB. It just slows everything down.

 

You can bring in a mesh, and use 'simplify mesh' but then you end up with a messy, faceted thing that looks awful in elevations etc.

 

Starting to think, just have to abandon the whole idea and model a simplified version of each product from scratch.

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I think the boils down to your exact workflow and future plans.

 

If there is a specific product that I plan to use in multiple projects moving forward, I will take a look at the options online. If there isn’t anything that I feel fits well, I will take the time to model it out to my needs.

 

If it is a specific product that I am really only interested in for a specific project, I will bring in one that looks nice and works for my specific need at this time. I will normally class it into a specific class that I will only have turned on for specific renderings to avoid slowness while working.

 

If you have a specific manufacturer / line in question, let me know and I can submit a content request to see if it is something we could get added in our libraries in the future. If you haven’t, I would also check over with BIMObject to see if the object in question is available there.

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17 hours ago, ASagatovVW said:

I think the boils down to your exact workflow and future plans.

 

If there is a specific product that I plan to use in multiple projects moving forward, I will take a look at the options online. If there isn’t anything that I feel fits well, I will take the time to model it out to my needs.

 

If it is a specific product that I am really only interested in for a specific project, I will bring in one that looks nice and works for my specific need at this time. I will normally class it into a specific class that I will only have turned on for specific renderings to avoid slowness while working.

 

If you have a specific manufacturer / line in question, let me know and I can submit a content request to see if it is something we could get added in our libraries in the future. If you haven’t, I would also check over with BIMObject to see if the object in question is available there.

 

Thanks for taking the time to reply.

 

Yes, I sometimes resort to putting overcomplex objects in their own class and turning on/off - but it's not ideal, because often these objects need to be there for more than just final renderings.

 

I could give you manufacturers/lines but there would be hundreds. I think the concept of having each product ready in VW form doesn't work; there are far too many products and variations of them out there for it to be realistic to expect a VW library ever to cover them. And I don't want to be making design decisions based on what is or isn't available in a VW-ready form.

 

I'm not really sure what the solution is but ideally it would be a way to import one of those overly detailed models that the manufacturers provide, and simplify the geometry in an intelligent and controllable way. For example, some way to capture only the external form of an object. Say for a WC pan, I don't actually need the internal detail of the U-bend. For a door handle I don't need the individual threads on a worm screw. I did some experiments with the 'drape' tool and wondered if there could be a similar "shrink wrap" tool. I understand to some extent how complicated it would be to achieve this though.

 

The other solution I guess is just brute force, accept that elements of a model will be wildly over-detailed but invest in the computing power to deal with it.

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On 4/30/2019 at 2:02 PM, line-weight said:

 has anyone worked out a good strategy for deciding when to give up and model from scratch?

 

I started looking at this a number of years ago as I hope between different softwares for different tasks. I agree that predictability is key here, so I'll tell you what I found...

This is still a work in progress while I learn more each week, but hopefully if other people add layers of knowledge we can all learn.

 

Firstly, you can't beat native geometry. All the importers work in different ways, so some files will give you solids, some meshes. I believe VW works on Seimens NX Parasolids as geometry. so the native  *.X_T file format is preferred. This comes in really nicely, but they're few and far between. Next in line for me is *.IGS and *.SAT or *.STP They seem to come in quite well too.

That being said, if the files mentioned above are storing meshes, then that's what you'll get in any case.

I find that importing Sketchup and DWG/DXF tend to convert to mesh, as well as OBJ and 3DS. So you'll get slow-downs and messy hidden line renders.

 

I had some models of Yachts which were detailed to the extreme. They came in beautiful nurbs based gemoetry, but it was far too much for VW to handle. I brought it into 3DS max and stripped out the super details, and then brought them over via IGES filetype and that worked well. Nice neat geometry. With some of it I set it to varying classes of Level of detail. Low medium and high. On a big viewport I only had low details switched on, but on more zoomed in VPs I switched on Medium and High... that did help, but it was a lot of prep work outside of VW which I couldn't charge for, but greatly improved my workflow and final presentation.

 

But with all that being said above, I still get some unpredicability on occasion!

 

When I'm in a rush, and it's a very quick and dirty fix, I open up the incoming file and do screen shots or flattening in X Y and Z, and then apply those as textures to the same three planes... kind of like an image prop, but in all 3 axis. It's not neat or pretty but does get you up and running quickly.

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44 minutes ago, RussU said:

 

Next in line for me is *.IGS and *.SAT or *.STP They seem to come in quite well too.

 

I've had some success with these too, and in some cases the model that comes in is very clean, may be NURBS based and even as a proper solid - but the excessive level of detail is then the issue.

 

 

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Posted (edited)
19 hours ago, ASagatovVW said:

I think the boils down to your exact workflow and future plans.

 

If there is a specific product that I plan to use in multiple projects moving forward, I will take a look at the options online. If there isn’t anything that I feel fits well, I will take the time to model it out to my needs.

 

If it is a specific product that I am really only interested in for a specific project, I will bring in one that looks nice and works for my specific need at this time. I will normally class it into a specific class that I will only have turned on for specific renderings to avoid slowness while working.

 

If you have a specific manufacturer / line in question, let me know and I can submit a content request to see if it is something we could get added in our libraries in the future. If you haven’t, I would also check over with BIMObject to see if the object in question is available there. 

 

There are a few decent 3d WC pans (Ideal Standard) in VW but quality varies. Pick what you want and email VW and IS if it's not there or doesn't work.

Make it known that you want to specify their (whoever is your chosen Manufacturer) products and need native 3d content to fit your workflow...it's in their interest to support your 3d asset needs (ie. native/ optimised Vectorworks content) if they want your custom. Why should you have to spend your precious time modelling or optimising their sanitaryware 3d assets only for the next specifier to come along and have to do the same again?! Isn't 3d/ BIM supposed to save time, be more accurate?!

 

My feeling is that Vectorworks needs to up it's profile so that Manufacturers provide native Vectorworks 3d assets as a default (rather than the typical response.. 'Vectorworks...is that like Revit?)

 

Edited by MRD Mark Ridgewell
spelling/ grammar
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VW Does have content creators. They seem to be focussing on truss and lighting fixtures at the moment, so I wonder if there's a way to spread the focus into architect bits, rather than all spotlight libraries.

 

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Yes, and they're very helpful. However, to create native/ optimised 3d VW assets on the scale that's needed, my feeling is that Manufacturers need to be engaged and willing, and content needs updating regularly.

 

There are quite a few good 3d content platforms now, but where's the native 3d Vectorworks content on them...?

 

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, MRD Mark Ridgewell said:

 

There are a few decent 3d WC pans (Ideal Standard) in VW but quality varies. Pick what you want and email VW and IS if it's not there or doesn't work.

 

Email them, and maybe a few months later it appears, by which time the job is done, or the client (or me) has changed their mind anyway.

 

As it happens I was looking at an IS WC pan the other day. No native VW version, all the formats offered contained meshes or overcomplex geometry. In the end I modelled a simplified version myself from a few loft objects, which works just fine. It maybe took me 30-45 mins to make it... which was probably less time than I spent messing around trying to import the various formats they offered.

 

Another solution for things like sanitaryware (which is not going to appear soon) is a parametric object with enough control that it can be 'near enough' the product you are looking at. For a WC pan, choose whether it's back to wall, wall hung, etc, modern or traditional style, a few basic geometric tweakings, overall size, etc. But like all parametric objects it's only any good if it's good enough.

Edited by line-weight

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I don't know how much time I have spent rebuilding or adopting models to a practical level. You can usually import models i various formats, but the quality varies a lot. One reason may be that the suppliers use production models rather than models specially optimized for use as symbols. On for example a chair, the production model contains lots of details that you don't actually see in real life, or as a symbol, and can those parts can therefore be removed in the symbol version. The production models are simply way to detailed to be practical. You just want them to look good and be easily identifiable as a given product.

 

In my experience, it is often possible to remove up to 90% of the model data and still have a model that looks pretty much identical to the original.

 

It would be useful if the suppliers made an effort to make models for specific use as symbols.

 

It would also be useful to make more use of textures for details, like it's done in the computer game industry. Most of the details is then processed by the video card instead of the main processor, which creates smaller models, still looks OK both with Renderworks and OpenGL, and renders quickly. In this example, the model to the right only consists of 14 NURBS surfaces plus proper UV mapping of textures. The models where renders in OpenGL.

 

273308446_OBJin-out.thumb.jpg.8951cfe1dc2ef2bb928954352a979e5c.jpg

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19 hours ago, line-weight said:

 

Email them, and maybe a few months later it appears, by which time the job is done, or the client (or me) has changed their mind anyway.

 

As it happens I was looking at an IS WC pan the other day. No native VW version, all the formats offered contained meshes or overcomplex geometry. In the end I modelled a simplified version myself from a few loft objects, which works just fine. It maybe took me 30-45 mins to make it... which was probably less time than I spent messing around trying to import the various formats they offered.

 

Another solution for things like sanitaryware (which is not going to appear soon) is a parametric object with enough control that it can be 'near enough' the product you are looking at. For a WC pan, choose whether it's back to wall, wall hung, etc, modern or traditional style, a few basic geometric tweakings, overall size, etc. But like all parametric objects it's only any good if it's good enough.

 

I find myself in agreement here. At the same time, if we don't tell them (the Manufacturers) what we need, how do they know? If you request it, even if it's too late that time, it will be there for next time, whether for you or the next Vectorworks user who comes along.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Hi,

Here's a diagram I produced a while back (as a piece of research for other interests) edited to illustrate the 'customer/ specifier' journey to source product using a 3d/ BIM type workflow when you have in mind either the product or supplier you want to use (a bit different if you haven't got a product or specifier in mind).

 

 

Certainly not comprehensive, but possibly of use/ interest to someone...

 

190513_Forum_Bimmble_graphics_specifier.pdf

 

Edited by MRD Mark Ridgewell
attachement amended

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On 5/10/2019 at 3:33 PM, MRD Mark Ridgewell said:

Hi,

Here's a diagram I produced a while back (as a piece of research for other interests) edited to illustrate the 'customer/ specifier' journey to source product using a 3d/ BIM type workflow when you have in mind either the product or supplier you want to use (a bit different if you haven't got a product or specifier in mind).

 

 

Certainly not comprehensive, but possibly of use/ interest to someone...

 

190513_Forum_Bimmble_graphics_specifier.pdf

 

 

That looks about right!

 

I might add an additional step, after inserting a native object, to do with assessing whether it's actually any good, which might include rejecting it on the basis of excessive detail or lack of editability. But that is perhaps covered under what you call 'optimised'.

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