3D Visualization software is used to view and interrogate 3D models and other deliverables created with Mechanical Computer-Aided Design (MCAD) software.


In the development process, 3D Visualization software can be used to:

  • Enable non-engineering roles to participate in design. Without 3D Visualization software, MCAD software would be required to view and interrogate 3D models, even for non-engineering roles in manufacturing, service, procurement and other functional groups.
  • Allow collaboration across the supply chain. Specifically, other organizations can view and interrogate a 3D model even if they do not have the MCAD software used to design the model originally.

Capabilities Provided

MCAD software provides some combination of the following capabilities:

  • 3D Model Conversion to Lightweight Formats: 3D models in CAD applications can be exorbitantly large in size. This is because the 3D models contain the full definition of how the geometry was created, often using parametric feature-based approaches. When applications in this technology category import such models, they convert them into lightweight models that are dramatically smaller in size and more responsive in terms of performance.
  • 3D Model Interrogation: Some non-engineering stakeholders only need to be able to interrogate 3D models to obtain the information they need to do their jobs. This includes taking measurements, creating cross-sections and checking other geometric characteristics. This set of capabilities is common for the applications in this technology category.
  • Markup and Review: A critical activity in engineering is the design review. This involves engineering peers checking the validity of the design and checking for mistakes and errors. These applications enable engineers to do so by marking up the 3D model with highlights and annotations.
  • Procedure Development and Validation: Organizations such as manufacturing and service often need to do more than simply interrogate a 3D model. They must develop procedures that represent how the product will be manufactured on the shop floor or serviced in the field. Software providers for these applications have added capabilities that allow users from these organizations to develop such procedures and then validate that they can in fact be completed.
  • Specialized Visualization: Visualization technologies initially started out as generic tools that could be used in a wide variety of use cases. Since that time, more and more organizations have voiced needs to produce specific types of deliverables, and software providers have enhanced their applications to accommodate them. Today, there is a wide range of specialized 3D Visualization applications that use organizational specific terminology as well.
  • Mobile 3D Visualization: While some activities in 3D Visualization applications require a user to sit at a desk, many do not. Software providers have been active in moving their applications to mobile platforms like tablets and smartphones. As a result, engineering and non-engineering stakeholders alike can work on the go.

Related Technology Enablers

Most importantly, 3D Visualization software can open, view and interrogate 3D models created by MCAD software.

Technology Providers

Providers of these types of technologies include 3D SystemsActifyAnarkAutodeskCapvidiaCore TechnologiesDassault Systèmes, KubotekLattice 3DOraclePTCSAP and Siemens PLM.