A lot of people have big ideas in mind for how they will use 3DVIA Composer to create new types of output or documents, like animations and renderings. But don’t forget how great 3DVIA Composer is at the basics. A number of features in 3DVIA Composer are helpful in defining and maintaining realistic and informative 2D images of 3D geometry. You can set and retain specific views, define types of explosions, and set components to appear/disappear in multiple ways. All of this yields shorter delivery times on documentation, and speedy updates to existing 3DVIA Composer content.
Let’s take some of the most basic capabilities of 3DVIA Composer for generating 2D output, and dig a level deeper to see what makes the tool so valuable. After all, CAD tools can make exploded views, right? And CAD tools can make components transparent and give them texture, right? Sure, some of these capabilities are not new, but the way 3DVIA Composer applies, combines, and extends them make it unique. Specifically, let’s look at:
- Making exploded views
- Controlling component appearance
- Configuring views and outputs
Exploded views are important to explaining the intricacies of complex assemblies to those not intimately familiar with the design or assembly of a product. But creating exploded views can be a real hassle if the CAD data wasn’t set up with assembly explosion in mind (if you’ve created exploded views in CAD, you’ll be nodding your head right now). 3DVIA Composer gives the user multiple tools to generate exploded views, each being perfect in a different situation. The linear exploded tool allows the user to select multiple components and drag them along straight lines in various directions. The tool is smart about it and will do some exploding automatically (again, following a straight line as it separates components from each other). The spherical exploded tool separates part from the center outward. A cylindrical explosion is a combination of the spherical and linear explosions (as you might guess) and works well when you need to have the sides removed from an enclosure. Note that with each of these tools, you don’t have to explode everything at once, so you can separate different parts of the assembly using different types of explosion tools. All of these tools allow for more automated exploded view creation than most CAD tools facilitate. 3DVIA Composer can also generate explosion lines, with multiple options for how they are oriented to the components and coordinate systems. The lines can also be associative or non-associative to the geometry. Non-associative lines are really valuable when you need to “fudge” the location of something to make it “look right” regardless of what the 3D models show. Try doing that with CAD tools!
Just getting parts in the right location (via explosions) is only part of helping the reader understand a complex 3D product. Many times, controlling the appearance of components in some special way really increases the meaning of the picture. 3DVIA Composer lets you do a number of interesting things to individual components to make this easier, including:
- Color components
- Hide components
- Make components transparent or “ghosted”
- Apply custom textures to components (through .jpg, .bmp, .tga, and .rmb files) – with scaling and orientation/projection
- Apply color and texture together through “blending”
Of course, all of these capabilities give rise to unique combinations and special “techniques” in 3DVIA Composer to get more realistic output. Take an example of creating floor grating. To model floor grating in CAD in a detailed way would be resource intensive and would then be time-consuming to render. Instead, with 3DVIA Composer, you can create a texture that mimics the pattern of the grating, where the “see through” pieces are dark and the metal pieces are light in color. By applying the texture with the appropriate transparency settings, you can make the dark locations completely transparent and the light color appear as solid material. Voila – simplified but realistic floor grating!
Views and Outputs
The first thing worth noting about creating views in 3DVIA Composer is that they are separate from the source CAD data. Of course your starting data is still associative to what you create in 3DVIA Composer, but since the Composer data is separate, you no longer have to depend on the orientations and display states provided by the CAD designer. And what you create in Composer doesn’t trickle back to the CAD model (where it could be modified or deleted).
It only gets better from there, because you can define a number of things about the views that you create in 3DVIA Composer. For instance, with the High Resolution Workshop in Composer, you can set a number of parameters for individual views that help in automatically creating output later. Resolution, image size, and image type can all be retained per view. This is excellent for defining your deliverables the first time around; imagine the time savings when a small change takes place. If a component is added to the assembly, and you just need to regenerate the catalog that you created using 10 images of the product in various states of explosion – you’ll really appreciate the ability to just update the Composer file from the CAD and click a button to recreate all of your output images.
So don’t give up on your dreams of better and more exciting output from your 3D models, but don’t skip past the things that 3DVIA Composer can do to automate and optimize the 2D deliverables you’re creating today. Use the time savings from streamlining your 2D output creation to drive the animations and renderings you want to create later. And as always, contact us if you have questions or need help with special “techniques” in 3DVIA Composer.