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sadkkf
10-11-2011, 08:41 AM
I've got a client looking to make a product anim from his CAD file. What's the best format to export to from CAD for LW 10?

Thanks!

kopperdrake
10-11-2011, 08:54 AM
Sorry - we use CAD but we tend to use PolyTrans to convert any CAD data into .lwo files. I'm not sure how well vanilla LightWave 10.1 can import .fbx files from a CAD package, but that might be worth a try? .3ds is an old and basic format which is likely to work, but will need retexturing. 3D d.xf might also be worth a shot, with the same issues as .3ds Other than those three and you'll need conversion software.

sadkkf
10-11-2011, 09:14 AM
I'm not at all familiar with CAD so I don't know what formats it supports. How well does PolyTrans do with conversion?

3dworks
10-11-2011, 09:35 AM
you can also try to get your CAD files as DXF, so that with the lwcad plugin you can import that data. otherwise, it's also possible to look at CAD data with this free viewer from solidworks: http://www.solidworks.com/sw/products/free-cad-software-downloads.htm

is the model a solid model in 3d or is it drafting data in 2d? from what application would the data be exported for you?

we are working with formz for modeling, which imports natively most popular CAD data, 2D and 3D...

hope that helps

markus

calilifestyle
10-11-2011, 10:17 AM
Blender. In the past i would bring files into blender then export them to lwo. I haven't had to do this in a long time. I would jump though these file types, Iges or step and StL. I know you could buy a plugin for Solidworks to export OBJ, but we(company) didn't want to wash money.
If lightwave can import Vrml(wrl) you could use that.

Sensei
10-11-2011, 10:29 AM
I've got a client looking to make a product anim from his CAD file. What's the best format to export to from CAD for LW 10?


The best results people are getting exporting to OBJ, then using TrueOBJImport to load it without smoothing errors
http://www.trueart.pl/?URIType=Directory&URI=Products/Plug-Ins/TrueOBJImport

3dworks
10-11-2011, 12:44 PM
doesn't LW 10.x support vertex normal import natively?

OBJ is a good choice in certain cases, but exclusively for 3D data, not for 2D drafting data. the optimal workflow for transfering the data depends on what CAD material is at source and what the translators the original program can do. it's quite a difference if it is a set of autocad 2D drawings or a 3d solid catia model...

sadkkf
10-11-2011, 04:52 PM
@3dworks - From what I understand the data is 3D and CAD is the app. Are there different flavors of CAD?

@calilifestyle - wow. there has to be a better way. A good idea, but I'd rather not install blender just for that.

@Sensei - I thought obj was a usable format. I may ask for the native CAD file and an obj to see what works.

If none of this works, can I hire someone to translate this for me?

Snosrap
10-11-2011, 06:34 PM
.stl's can be loaded in LW with Chrome Cow's STL Tools - it's free. We great sucsess with it everyday.

brian.coates
10-11-2011, 06:51 PM
It sounds like you're dealing with an AutoCAD 3D dataset, which I believe you can export directly from AutoCAD via .dxf or .3ds.

You should confirm with your client whether or not there's surfacing/texture data in their source files. Chances are there's little, (if any) so either format would be fine to use but you'll probably get better results with .3ds.

As @kopperdrake said, using a utility like Polytrans to export to LW from the native format would be your best bet to keep as much of the original texturing info as possible.

sadkkf
10-11-2011, 08:24 PM
@brian - you bring up a good point. What questions should I ask of my client to solve this?

brian.coates
10-12-2011, 12:42 AM
What questions should I ask of my client to solve this?
Just ask them if the CAD file contains any surfacing information for the different components and materials. Just be clear that you're talking about visual material specification; things like textures, diffuse reflection, ambient reflection, specularity etc.

Ideally you should have a quick chat with the person or people that produced the CAD model in the first place to find out exactly what they put into it and how it was put together.

3dworks
10-12-2011, 02:14 AM
my experience with the 3ds format is rather mixed. it's an older format with lots of 'flavours' on the market - and especially larger or complex models with hierarchies are never imported correctly in most programs i know (included lightwave) - in this case you will se a sort of 'exploded' assembling after import. most turbosquid models are scrambled that way when imported into LW. the only app i know importing them correctly is currently formz.

the most reliable formats supported directly in LW 10 for 3d data are in my experience DAE/collada and OBJ. maybe FBX is possible as well, but i doubt that the CAD supports it, since it's not commonly used in the engineering area.

however, the best thing you can do as a first step is to get to know which application we are talking about. CAD stands in general for Computer Aided Drafting, but the most commonly software of that kind is autocad by autodesk. if you get a chance to talk with the model author, just ask, if one of the mentioned formats in this thread is supported for export.

the more difficult part starts then, because the trick is to find the correct settings to get most of the informations into LW. one tip is to let them save a few versions for you with different export settings. let them try to 'explode' all assemblies before exporting, and let them switch to settings to export 'by material groups' and by 'construction layers', as alternatives, if possible.

another tip: in case you are using OBJ/wavefront, make sure they save with an MTL file and with normals - if they can set this at export settings. without normals you will have smoothing issues, and without an MTL file you won't see any material/surfacing informations in your model. if an MTL file is not supported, try to export all material layers as separate files - so you can reassemble it in LW for assigning them again manually.

in case you need more help you can also contact me via email (see web site)...

hope that helps

markus

prometheus
10-12-2011, 05:09 AM
I use cad data from solidworks, It goes through a conversion software called deep exploration, and I export out with the obj format with vertex normals.
that works better than lwo format.

The only thing you need to keep an eye of, is to set a pre transformation scale divided by 1000, then the scale should be completly correct.

once in lightwave I always render with the perspective camera, as far as I know of, I donīt get any render artifacts or smoothing errors anymore wich I had a lot of issues with before not doing it right.

Lightwave Perspective camera can handle vertex normal map smoothing correctly, classic camera can not, and neither can fprime..but
if you need those camera types or need to use fprime, you can buy true arts commercial true obj loader.

Michael

sadkkf
10-12-2011, 07:56 AM
This is a lot of great info so thank you to everyone who's contributed.

I'm asking the client if he's got any spec, reflections, etc in the file and will go from there.

It sounds like PolyTrans could be the best stand-alone translator out there. Not having looked, I'm sure it's expensive. Would anyone be willing to convert files for me if necessary? I'm happy to pay for the help, too.

Thanks again!

prometheus
10-12-2011, 08:16 AM
This is a lot of great info so thank you to everyone who's contributed.

I'm asking the client if he's got any spec, reflections, etc in the file and will go from there.

It sounds like PolyTrans could be the best stand-alone translator out there. Not having looked, I'm sure it's expensive. Would anyone be willing to convert files for me if necessary? I'm happy to pay for the help, too.

Thanks again!

I tried polytrans, but I just couldnīt work with that interface, moving around in open gl, changing materials etc, utterly bad in my point of view, deep exploration however, works like a charm.

Even with that said..many people use polytrans and seems pleased, while Iīm not.

Michael

calilifestyle
10-12-2011, 10:45 AM
If i had PolyTrans i would gladly help. But i'm sorry i don't have the software.

Ztreem
10-12-2011, 03:24 PM
I would use wavefront obj. format with vertex normals for the best result. I use Rhino3D to convert CAD data to obj files, then I have full control over tesselation.

Andy Meyer
10-12-2011, 10:15 PM
i use Rhino3D too.
most CAD apps can export IGES or STEP files.
in Rhino you can explode the files and export the object as OBJ.
Rhino allows you to export selections. that can be very helpful.
just be aware that vertex normals get f*ucked if you do anything in modeler like rotating the mesh or other transforms on polys. you can scale or move the mesh, that works.

@sadkkf: maybe i can do the row conversion for you with rhino. but i have not much time? how many objects are we talking about? you can pm me. best is to test one file, then do the others. can your customer export STEP/STP files?

prometheus
10-13-2011, 04:05 AM
i use Rhino3D too.
most CAD apps can export IGES or STEP files.
in Rhino you can explode the files and export the object as OBJ.
Rhino allows you to export selections. that can be very helpful.
just be aware that vertex normals get f*ucked if you do anything in modeler like rotating the mesh or other transforms on polys. you can scale or move the mesh, that works.

@sadkkf: maybe i can do the row conversion for you with rhino. but i have not much time? how many objects are we talking about? you can pm me. best is to test one file, then do the others. can your customer export STEP/STP files?


Yeah..I forgot to mention that, do not rotate or transform polys, rotation in layout works wich is a totally different thing thou.

Use perspective camera when rendering with vertex maps, the classic cam can not handle vertex maps correctly.

And export to wavefront obj format works pretty good.

Michael

sadkkf
10-13-2011, 08:30 AM
they're asking me to sign an NDA so I won't be able to ask for help after all. Let's hope this isn't a problem.

Thanks again for all the input. I'm hoping .obj will work fine.

kopperdrake
10-14-2011, 03:51 PM
This is a lot of great info so thank you to everyone who's contributed.

I'm asking the client if he's got any spec, reflections, etc in the file and will go from there.

It sounds like PolyTrans could be the best stand-alone translator out there. Not having looked, I'm sure it's expensive. Would anyone be willing to convert files for me if necessary? I'm happy to pay for the help, too.

Thanks again!

Throw them over to us - if they're not too huge and take up a massive amount of time I'll do them for you, no charge. I do find that depending on the format there may be some point cleaning to do, so if you're happy to see what you get back and don't mind some tweaking then I'll do the conversion. I tend to find that if there are any textures you're usually better off (quicker) just to rebuild them in LightWave. You can use the contact form on our website (link below) to get in touch initially - I'll then reply to you with my own email :)

kopperdrake
10-14-2011, 03:53 PM
Oops - I posted before reading the second page. Bad luck :(

sadkkf
10-14-2011, 04:35 PM
Thanks for the offer kopperdrake. Not thrilled with the NDA but it's a job.

Their first file to me was a easm format. Useless. Hope this isn't a sign of things to come. :)

calilifestyle
10-14-2011, 06:03 PM
Make sure you request the file types you can work with. Or the files types you know could work with .

sadkkf
10-14-2011, 09:04 PM
Make sure you request the file types you can work with. Or the files types you know could work with .

Well of course. The .easm file was just given to me. I'm trying to learn more about the original file but haven't heard back yet.

3dworks
10-15-2011, 02:39 AM
Well of course. The .easm file was just given to me. I'm trying to learn more about the original file but haven't heard back yet.

ah, so it's solidworks e-drawing format...
in that case probably you can only use that app to output to other formats, see the link i posted a few days ago.

sadkkf
10-15-2011, 07:23 AM
ah, so it's solidworks e-drawing format...
in that case probably you can only use that app to output to other formats, see the link i posted a few days ago.

ah, yes. Funny how they tell me "CAD, CAD CAD!" but when I get a file, it's SolidWorks.

I downloaded eDrawings, but that only allows me to view the part, not translate it. I'm trying to get a different format, but so far haven't heard back.

They're a new customer so I'm more forgiving. :)

3dworks
10-15-2011, 07:30 AM
ah, yes. Funny how they tell me "CAD, CAD CAD!" but when I get a file, it's SolidWorks.

I downloaded eDrawings, but that only allows me to view the part, not translate it. I'm trying to get a different format, but so far haven't heard back.

They're a new customer so I'm more forgiving. :)

ah yes, you need the commercial 'publisher' version for exporting any data from this file to other platforms... the free version is just a viewer. maybe you can ask your client if they accept to include that cost into their bill ;)

prometheus
10-15-2011, 10:37 AM
Maybe take a look in to Modo, they have a more focus on collaboration with solidworks and also has native import for solidworks sldasm files, if you get solidworks files from version 8 of solidworks, you need to use a free fix rotation script thou, otherwise parts will get wrong rotations.

But if you load solidworks 10 sldasm files in to latest modo, it should work just fine since the modo native solidworks importer is written on solidworks 10 base.

Michael

gristle
10-15-2011, 02:54 PM
ah, yes. Funny how they tell me "CAD, CAD CAD!" but when I get a file, it's SolidWorks.. :)

Well, Solidworks is a computer aided design package, so they were not lying about that! Notmally if I have a client and we are talking about a generic "CAD" package I'd expect to get an IGES or STEP export as a bare minimum. Most packages export these. I normally run the files through Rhino to organise and join surfaces, then import into LW via trueObjImport to sort out the vertex normals. Another option you could look at is MOI to import IGES and export to LW. Rhino has a limited demo with 20 (I think?) saves, so if you are economical, you might be able to get things converted that way. IGES export from Solidworks imported into Rhino normally places each part or body onto a seperate layer, making it dead easy to join the correct surfaces into parts.

Watch out for deep exploration, I think the SW module was a seperate addin and more expensive? I'm pretty sure IGES and STEP are part of the standard package.

Good luck

prometheus
10-15-2011, 03:07 PM
Im using the cad edition of deep exploreer, but I donīt think thereīs a seperate modul for reading and exporting solidworks as I know of?


standard edition
http://www.righthemisphere.com/support/help/supported_file_formats/Deep_Exploration5.5_Supported_File_Formats.pdf

Cad edition

http://www.righthemisphere.com/support/help/supported_file_formats/Deep_Exploration_Supported_File_Formats.pdf

Michael

gristle
10-15-2011, 03:28 PM
My mistake. An extended version for native CAD formats...

3dworks
10-15-2011, 03:46 PM
just in case, if its not going to be a very big model, let me know if i can help you with formz. it reads well CAD formats including DWG, IGES, SAT, STEP, STL, OBJ and can translate to LWO, among many others.

sadkkf
10-15-2011, 06:40 PM
Thanks again, everyone. I'm still hoping to get a usable format from these people.

The model isn't too complex, but more than I'd like to model myself.

I can't ask anyone to translate it because of the NDA I signed, so I'm hoping to find a cheap/free method for doing it myself.

My original quote stated me getting a usable format. If I don't get a decent format, the quote is negated and I charge more. :)

kopperdrake
10-17-2011, 07:16 AM
Good luck!

phillydee
10-17-2011, 01:07 PM
Another option you could look at is MOI to import IGES and export to LW.

I can vouch for this workflow. Several times in the past year I've had to import assets from CAD software and the best results came from using an .IGES export and loading that up in MoI. MoI has a fully-functional 30-day trial period that lets you use the software and evaluate it. I found that to be a lifesaver as it allowed me to test the workflow first before committing to purchasing it. I don't know how much Rhino or Polytrans costs, MoI was around 295. I don't think I've had any issue with any IGES file that I've had to import yet.

Make sure you export as OBJ as this will keep the vertex normal map in tact. I think there's a video around here that Matt Gorner made that explains this workflow a bit better I believe. And, it's a pretty intuitive little modeler as well...

sadkkf
10-17-2011, 03:56 PM
I really do appreciate all the input here, but the worm has turned again. The client is now asking to use STEP files. Instead of continuing the discussion here, I opened a new thread for that.

http://forums.newtek.com/showthread.php?t=123019