Editor’s Pick: A Simple and Useful Tool for Product Visualization
CAD Schroer i4 AR-Viewer for smartphones extends company's expertise to product visualization beyond the bounds of typical CAD software.
October 9, 2019
Dear DE Reader,
There’s a lot of confusion in the marketplace regarding all things “virtual.” So let’s do our part to clear things up. Virtual reality (VR) is about immersion in a visual environment; it takes the viewer away from the real world. Augmented reality (AR) is about adding utility to a view of the real world. That’s why we call it augmented.
The smart people at CAD Schroer have been working on augmenting reality for engineering and manufacturing for years. Their new i4 AR-Viewer allows 3D models to be displayed in a real-world environment. Very complex models can now be easily displayed in a realistic setting. The elegant simplicity of this very handy form of product review is why the i4 is our Editor’s Pick of the Week.
CAD Schroer is no newcomer to engineering and manufacturing visualization. Their factory design, machine assembly,and pipework design and visualization products have been used in industry for years. Their Medusa 2D/3D Mechanical CAD software is an industry standard. With the i4 they are extending their expertise to product visualization beyond the bounds of typical CAD software.
It is easy to get started with CAD Schroer’s new viewer. A free app is available for Android and iOS. Either version gives the user a quick way to add a view of a product model to any real-world situation, no different than pointing the smartphone’s camera.
The i4 AR-Viewer recognizes surfaces such as tables or floors. This means someone designing a new desktop 3D printer can view a 3D model of the product sitting on the desk in their office. (We recommend you clean the desk first, to make room for the printer.)
Once the 3D model is in the i4 viewer, it can be reduced, enlarged or rotated with screen gestures, allowing a view from all angles. For starters, CAD Schroer offers a collection of sample models to help new users become familiar with use. Once the user is ready, it’s really a simple matter of exporting a 3D model in either OBJ or FBX format and loading into a smartphone. The list of files available to load appears below the model; use the folder icon to change to another folder.
The free version of i4 AR-Viewer supports models up to 4 MB for FBX and 7 MB for OBJ files. When it comes time for larger, more detailed models, upgrade to the Pro version. Either version (Android or Apple) is less than $5.
The CAD Schroer i4 AR-Viewer may be inexpensive and run on the smartphone in your pocket, but that doesn’t mean it is a toy. This is an example of bringing product realization into a more useful form factor.
Product realization is an important and challenging aspect of engineering and product design. In a broad sense product realization is the process by which the concept of an engineering product goes through the stages of its complete lifecycle. In the design stages, engineers from different disciplines must come to decisions about fit and function, style, buildability and much more. There are complex systems out there that offer these services, but sometimes simple is better. That’s where the i4 shines. For more details, check out this week’s Product Brief.
Thanks for reading; we’ll be back next week with another Editor’s Pick of the Week.
—The DE Editors
About the Author
DE’s editors contribute news and new product announcements to Digital Engineering. Press releases can be sent to them via DE-Editors@digitaleng.news.Follow DE