The ability to access and share 3D CAD data is an integral part of design and manufacturing processes. When data must be shared between engineering and manufacturing departments within the same organization, or with the supply chain, translation between different CAD systems may be required.
However, translating large amounts of engineering data can cause problems as some data can be replicated improperly due to differences in CAD systems. Many who could benefit from interactively viewing and working with product design data do not currently receive it digitally because of such issues.
Lightweight data formats were created for optimal graphics performance and that generally meant a lighter file size than that generated from a CAD system. These format types are better suited for use over the Internet. Organizations that can make the best use of lightweight data formats are those that need to share data with their extended enterprise, which could include large manufacturing firms and supply chains.
What makes these formats lightweight is that typically the format only includes the required design data, with content such as features, history and constraints removed. This format also protects the IP of the original designs. The formats are rich in 3D content and can support a rich enough data set that suppliers have the information they need. The formats maintain the CAD file as the master version but provide a synchronized representation for users.
There are a number of lightweight data formats available on the market including Siemens’ JT, Dassault’s 3DXML, PTC’s Creo View and 3D PDF.