Design Visualization

ONU’s Conversion Platform Speeds Models from CAD to Virtual Reality

22 Dec, 2017 By: Cyrena Respini-Irwin

The newly launched ONU 3DLite converts CAD models to lightweight polygonal meshes for use in virtual and augmented reality experiences, as well as online and mobile applications.


With the Visual Hierarchy tool and LoD Adjustor, parts can be selected and the level of detail reduced.

Finally, the Hide Parts tool is used to remove parts that were identified as using a large share of the polygon "budget." Click here to view and manipulate the final FBX file in your browser.

For customers with daunting conversion workloads, ONU can set up automation rules to accelerate the process. Sesti used the example of a customer tasked with getting 3D assets out to the sales channel — for more than 100,000 stock-keeping units (SKUs). Previously, the company was using an outsourced process that took about 100 hours per asset; ONU reduced that to less than 1 hour each with a manual process, and “with automation rules, we probably can get to where they won’t have to touch it,” Sesti predicted. “The idea is creating efficiencies when it comes to creation of 3D assets.”

When Less Is More

ONU’s technology also performs “second-pass optimization,” reducing model complexity by automatically removing elements that are unnecessary for the final experience, Sesti explained. This data may be essential from an engineering perspective, but is irrelevant in a 3D visualization being used to evaluate aesthetics, for example.

“It may be something where you’re just looking to show the outer envelope [of the design],” said Sesti. He gave the example of screws, which are “very costly in terms of rendering” because of their complexity, but can be removed from a 3D visualization without affecting a viewer’s perception of the overall design. The defeaturing process can hide interior features of a model completely, or simply reduce the level of detail on the model overall.

While reducing complexity, the software preserves information of importance to manufacturers: ONU 3DLite retains all part numbers and hierarchies so users can reference them in 3D experiences and integrate them into other back-end systems, the company says. Identical parts within a design are automatically instanced to reduce geometry and draw calls, ONU reports.

Pricing and Format Support

Pricing plans for ONU 3DLite are based on the number of times per month that users export a file out of the system: As many as 10 times for $99, or unlimited exports at the $499/month level. The 30-day free trial of 3DLite available to registrants includes three exports.

ONU is currently focused on FBX for file exports, but the company is exploring the possibility of adding more export options such as Revit, STL, and SketchUp files, said Sesti.

On the import side, users can work with CAD files in a variety of formats, including STEP, IGES, SAT, Parasolid, SOLIDWORKS, JT, Pro/E and Creo, AutoCAD, CATIA, Rhino, and NX. Although ONU is focused on serving manufacturers and has no plans to specifically address AEC at this time, that could change in the future. “We’re not trying to play with BIM [building information modeling] or architecture generally … [but] we’re always open for customer feedback,” Sesti noted.

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