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How to Obtain and Optimize CAD Files for AR Experiences

Last Updated: March 17, 2020


Vuforia Studio enables you to create useful and accurate AR experiences using your organization’s CAD (Computer Aided Design) files. If your AR use case requires the use of CAD files, you must obtain and optimize them for use in Vuforia Studio. By leveraging the optimal size and complexity of your 3D data, you ensure a worthwhile AR experience for your end users.

How to Optimize your CAD Data

Below are the important factors to discuss with your engineer and best practices to help optimize your CAD data. Many of these modifications can be completed within your CAD tool. These factors will help to optimize your CAD data before you upload into Vuforia Studio; doing so will expedite the creation of the AR experience and create the best experience for your end users.

1. Size of Data

Your CAD files should be compressed for use in Vuforia Studio. If your CAD files are too large, it will slow down both creation and viewing time.

  • Keep in mind the publish time to Vuforia Experience Service, how long it will take to download over the “network,” and the load time into Vuforia View.
  • Data size to strive for:
    • < 10Mb is ideal
    • < 20Mb is likely acceptable

2. Polygon Count

Aim to reduce your polygon count. Large amounts of polygons will strain your AR experience

  • Review the display time and frame rate, as well as the memory & Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) limited on your chosen mobile platform.
  • Recommendations for polygon count:
    • < 200,000 polygons are ideal
    • < 500,000 polygons are acceptable

3. Part Count

Minimize your part count. Extensive part counts in your CAD model can slow down the AR experience.

  • Evaluate the frame rate and animation performance. Check to see what parts of the CAD models are required in the AR experience and which are not. Only show what is necessary.
  • Recommendations for part count:
    • Aim to keep this low for best performance

4. CAD Structure

CAD structure will impact your Model Item creation in Vuforia Studio

  • How the CAD model is structured will affect the translation and orientation of the AR experience.
  • Recommendations for CAD structure:
    • Restructure assemblies and/or components
    • Modify the coordinate system

5. CAD Model Detail/Intellectual Property (IP)

Depending on your organization’s policies and AR experience, some details in the CAD model may cause concerns around intellectual property. We recommend removing details from the CAD model.

  • Assess how accurate your 3D data needs to be for your desired AR experience. You should also check with your engineer to ensure you aren’t providing any CAD data that is IP protected. Removing details will reduce the size for a more optimal AR experience and reduce IP leakage concerns.
  • Recommendations for CAD model detail:
    • Remove accurate geometry, meta data, and protected data as necessary

If you have addressed the above factors and you need to reduce your CAD files further, you can run the CAD optimizer in Vuforia Studio. When you import your CAD data in Vuforia Studio, you will select the CAD Optimizer. The result will be three additional optimized versions by reducing the polygon count and thus the file size. This will be your first step in optimization in Vuforia Studio but if you need to optimize even further, utilize the bulk optimization option in the CAD optimizer.

Tips and Recommendations

  • View Vuforia Studio supported CAD file formats: Supported CAD file formats can be viewed here. If you’re leveraging Creo Illustrate, the pvi sequencing file is embedded in the pvz file, so only one upload is necessary.
  • Decide on your CAD sequencing: Before optimizing your CAD data, consider the sequencing you need for your AR experience. Do you need a simpler sequence in Creo Illustrate such as a disassembly or will this require a more advanced assembly sequence? We recommend starting by storyboarding the sequence you’d like to see. Document the procedure steps first to help establish what sequencing your engineering will need to create.
  • Watch your CAD file size: Trying to leverage a large, complex CAD file not only slows down the build process but the AR experience for the end user. We recommend you balance between the quality of the CAD data and the AR experience for the end users and continue to iterate.
  • Don’t wait for perfection: If you don’t receive the necessary CAD files immediately, utilize the CAD data you have or download CAD data from a third party. Learn how to work with CAD data in Vuforia Studio. This will help you to understand the CAD data needs before you go back to your engineer with the requirements. This will save you and your engineer time if you’re not waiting until the perfect CAD data and sequencing.
  • Publish and view an AR experience using optimized CAD data: Once you have optimized your CAD data, you should publish and view the AR experience to ensure you have optimized far enough. Be sure to view using the Vuforia View app and the devices you are leveraging. This will be your opportunity to check if your sequencing is accurate and the AR experience functions as expected.

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