5 Methods Of Sourcing 3D Models for VR and AR Environments

Updated: May 11

It has been our experience in working with global original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) that there are multiple methods of acquiring 3D models for the purpose of practical utilization in a 3D, VR or AR environment. This list will prioritize efficient paths, meaning the 3D model source that will require the least amount of work to become ready for functional use in a 3D, VR or AR environment will be higher up the list:

  1. Engineering CAD Data: Most OEMs have a design/engineering department. Where they have at their disposal proprietary CAD data for engineering and design purposes. This data is the most accurate and will dramatically reduce the 3D model development process. This source of 3D data in our experience is the best source of 3D data.

  2. Marketing CAD Data - Marketing 3D data in most cases was CAD data that got stripped of all the internal details of a system, only keeping the externals or a simplified version/rendering of the original high detail CAD. This would follow similar steps to the CAD data. This source of 3D data in our experience is the 2nd best source of 3D data.

  3. Point Cloud - Point cloud data is usually generated from 3D scans, it is a great technology but currently it is not yet optimized for use in an interactive environment. This is mainly because the scan provides one single 3D surface that is good for visualization and referencing uses but not interactions. The image below is of a point cloud rendering in a 3D modelling tool. All the bright colours you are seeing is the work of a 3D modeller building the surface using new geometry overlayed the point cloud data. So the point cloud data is being used as a reference. This source of 3D data in our experience is the 3rd best source of 3D data.

  4. Photogrammetry - Photogrammetry data is similar to Point cloud data when it comes to using in a 3D interactive environment. A singular object that will be used as a reference. Where point cloud data uses individual laser collision points to generate the surface. Photogrammetry will use many photos from many angles to generate the surface, making it less accurate than point cloud data. This source of 3D data in our experience is the 4th best source of 3D data.

  5. Custom modelling - Also known as modelling from scratch, there is no 3D data available for referencing at all. The model will need to be created from visually referencing a 2D image or video. When it comes to 3D development bad 3D data is better than no 3D data. In our experience, this method will require the most level of effort to source 3D data.


Common starting status of CAD data

  1. Planning/identifying the use case of the model.

  2. Large file size due to the detail and accuracy of all components.

  3. Multiple CAD files to make up one total system. For example, the Car frame is in a different file than the engine so on and so on.

  4. No Texture at all. The model is usually a shade of grey.

  5. Component hierarchy based on an algorithm naming system that might not represent the component's name.

  6. Only will include the OEMs product. Leaving moc/placeholder shapes for components created by sub-suppliers

Common starting status of Point cloud data

  1. Planning/identifying the use case of the model.

  2. Large file size due to the conversion of point cloud data into mesh will result in a high vertices singular mesh surface. For example in the image above you are not able to interact with one pipe only you. Making the model not the best case for 3D interactions.

  3. The texture captured by point cloud data does not convert in a way to be used in a 3D mesh model.

Common starting status of Custom modelling with no 3D data at all

  1. Planing/identifying the use case of the model that will be needed.

  2. Gathering as much available reference material as possible. 2D photos, Videos and blueprints. With scaling markers for major components to confirm proper scaling. It is common to have 1000’s of photos/blueprints and hours of video.

  3. Identifying what models can be purchased and what has to be modelled.

  4. All textures will have to be custom made referencing the textures in the images and video.



What is needed to get the CAD data to 3D mesh

  1. Planning out what will the 3D model be used for. This greatly changes the approach to processing the model. Determining the quality of the visuals is limited by the processing power of the hardware being used. For example, a PC has more power to run a much larger detailed 3D environment vs a mobile device. So the level of optimization must be increased for a mobile device.

  2. Overall model size reduction/optimization. Modest Trees methods leverage manual & automated optimization procedures.

  3. Combining all the different files to make one total system. With a focus on real-world scale, orientation and direction of all the different components. Example when combining the Car frame with the Car engine. The engine must be the right size to be able to fit the proper location.

  4. Texturing the components. For example, making metal components look like metal components, plastic components to look like plastic components.

  5. Hierarchy to be organized in a way to support the overall intention of the solution. Proper component naming, proper group structure.

  6. Custom modelling for the supporting 3D models to complete the environment. Example The car will be placed in a showroom or a garage not just floating in empty space.

What is needed to get the Point Cloud data to 3D mesh

  1. When developing for interactive 3D environments models must be intractable to the last bolt if that is what the use case requires.

  2. One mesh of the point cloud data will be used as a reference and an entire model will need to be modelled as an overlay. Breaking down all the different components in the model to make it intractable. Grouping and naming all the different components.

  3. Texturing the components. For example, making metal components look like.


What is needed to create a Custom model

  1. When developing for interactive 3D environments models must be intractable to the last bolt if that is what the use case requires. So this will need to be done with every component.

  2. The gathered information will be used to reference as the 3D modellers build all the necessary models and fit them into the proper environment.

  3. Texturing the components. For example, making metal components look like.




We can help you get started using your 3D models in immersive technologies.

Contact us to make it happen!

Modest Tree is a member of the VR/AR Association

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Suite 100

Halifax, NS, Canada, B3K 2R6

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email: info@modesttree.com

Tel: +1 (902) 466 6564

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