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DriveWorks 3D File

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DriveWorks 3D File

The DriveWorks 3D File document type references .drive3d files created using your 3D CAD application.

The document can be displayed in the 3D Preview control to allow a configurable 3D representation, optimized for Internet browsers, on a user form.

A DriveWorks 3D Document can assemble models together to create Assemblies or layouts in 3D. Appearances, Textures, Scale and Lights can all be dynamically driven.

This can all be done without the need for SOLIDWORKS.

DriveWorks 21 Performance Improvement

DriveWorks 21 changes how the underlying data of a DriveWorks 3D document is stored.

This has resulted in a significant reduction in file size of .drive3d files.

Loading times for DriveWorks 3D Scenes on both desktop and web have been reduced.

DriveWorks 3D Scenes are less resource intensive and are more performant.

Existing DriveWorks 3D files, produced with earlier versions of DriveWorks, can benefit from this using the Upgrade utility in the free DriveWorks 3D Viewer.

Render Batching

DriveWorks 3D technology utilizes two methods of render batching to deliver optimal performance when loading 3D in a browser or client modules of DriveWorks.

  • Static Baking

    Automatically bakes all geometry that does not move, change appearance, or suppress states, into one single combined geometry.

    This allows the render of potentially huge static portions of scenes in one single draw call.

  • Dynamic Instancing

    This groups high-poly geometries and geometries using high resolution textures.

    This allows the geometry to be sent to the GPU once, where all instances of that geometry are rendered without re-uploading for each instance.

These two render batching methods combined allow the batching of almost all geometry in scenes, including dynamic geometry.

This has resulted in major performance gains in the most intensive of scenes, and has significantly improved VR scenes and FPS (frames per second).

Add a DriveWorks 3D File Document

In DriveWorks Administrator open the project and go to Stage4: Output Rules > Documents - 3D

  1. Click the Add button on the Command Bar to launch the 3D Document wizard.

    Create DriveWorks 3D File wizard

  2. Enter a Name for the 3D Document in the Document Name field.
  3. If an Initial Drive3D file is required to be used (see How To: Create a Drive3D File for information on creating a .drive3d file to add to the Document.)
    • Browse to the path of the Drive3D file created.


    • Uncheck Initial Drive3D File.
  4. Select any optional templates required for the scene. Choose from:
    • Orbit Camera

      Adds an orbit camera setup using rotators and a camera entity, giving better control over the camera than the default preview control camera.

    • VR Rig

      Adds a VR Camera rig set up with separate nodes for the head and hands.

    • Three Point Lighting

      Adds a three-point lighting rig to the scene comprising of 2 top-down, blue-tinted directional lights, 2 orange-tinted side lights, and 1 weaker up-light

    • Soft Lighting

      Adds a soft lighting rig to the scene comprising of 4 top-down directional lights and 1 weaker up-light.

    • Hard Lighting

      Adds a hard lighting rig to the scene comprising of 1 top-down directional light and 1 weaker up-light.

    • Turntable Rotator

      Adds a turntable node structure to the scene. Used to add additional models as children to give a continuous spinning effect.

    • Ground Plane

      Adds a basic plane model to the scene to act as the ground or base, to place models on and receive shadows.

  5. Click Finish.

Once the Document has been added the 3D Document editor will open.

To Edit a DriveWorks 3D File Document

Please see the topic How To: Create Appealing DriveWorks 3D files for more information.

Once the Document has been added, Edit mode is automatically activated.

To re-edit a DriveWorks 3D Document:

  1. Select the required DriveWorks 3D Document from the Document list.
  2. Select Edit from the Command Bar.

The DriveWorks 3D Document editor will open.

The DriveWorks 3D Document Editor is split into several sections:

  • Command Bar
  • Options Panel
  • Feature Panel
  • 3D View
  • Parameter Panel
  • Information Panel

Using configurations with Drive3D exports from SOLIDWORKS

When creating multiple Drive3D files from a single SOLIDWORKS part with more than one configuration, it is important to ensure that the "Include configuration names in 3D exports" option is selected.

This can be found in the Settings menu, in the "SOLIDWORKS Settings" tab. Under Model Generation Options.

Command Bar

The Command Bar contains a number of features that are useful when using a DriveWorks 3D File Document.

  • Apply Changes

    This will apply any modifications made since opening a 3D Document in Preview Mode (does not save changes). Closing and reopening the project will revert the 3D Document back to its last save point.

  • Play Mode

    Play Mode allows the 3D Document to be viewed and tested as it would appear in a Specification.

    Animation entities (not assigned to a macro) will run as required.

    The 3D View border is highlighted to indicate Play Mode is active.

    Play Mode takes a snapshot of the current 3D Document.

    The snapshot can be modified to allow experimentation of new features.

    Any changes cannot be saved to the original Document.

    Play Mode must be exited, by clicking the Play Mode button, to discard the snapshot and continue modifying the original Document.

  • Build

    Build will become available when you have a rule selected with the Document. It opens the Rules Builder to build a rule for that property.

  • Refresh

    Refresh will refresh the DriveWorks 3D File Document. It will obtain and update all of the data required to build the 3D Document. This is useful when updating 3D Document Source Files.

  • View As Combined

    In a DriveWorks 3D Document it is possible to check multiple Nodes. The properties for each Node will appear separately and rules can be built. View As Combined, combines properties from multiple Nodes into one for each property name. This allows you to build one rule for multiple Nodes.

  • Expand All

    Expands the whole Feature Panel, including Assets folders.

  • Collapse All

    Collapses the whole Feature Panel, including Assets folders.

  • Select All

    Selects everything in the Feature Panel, including Assets folder features.

  • Deselect All

    Deselects everything in the Feature Panel, including Assets folder features.

  • Import Drive3D File

    Imports a DriveWorks 3D File into the 3D Document. If no Node is selected it will import the Model onto the Root Node. Otherwise it will import the model onto the selected Node.

  • Export Drive3D File

    Takes the current DriveWorks 3D File Document and exports it as a standalone DriveWorks 3D File.

    The following options are available before exporting the file:

  • Zoom To Fit

    Performs a Zoom To Fit on the Model shown in the 3D View. Allows the whole model to be seen in the 3D View.

    Selecting a Node from the Feature Panel, and clicking Zoom To Fit will display the whole of the selected node.

  • Show Camera Effects

    Show Camera Effects allows the 3D View to appear as it would in a Specification. This shows the default camera, if hidden, and enables Camera Entities if added to the 3D Document.

  • Hide Editor Icons

    Click to hide sprites, used for entities in the editor view (cameras, lights, etc.).

  • Display Performance Window

    Click to display the Performance Window in the 3D View.

    This gives key performance information about the 3D model being displayed.

    See Display Performance Window for more information.

  • Transform Tool Mode

    Selecting a Node, or group of Nodes, from the Feature Panel or 3D View will display the Transform Tool Mode to be selected.

    This places a triad on the model which allows various transforms to be tested, in world space, by clicking and dragging the required triad.

    Holding control will enable snapping while dragging. This is in increments of 100mm, 15 degrees and 0.1 scale.

    The transforms available are:

    • None

      This mode disables any other transform selected.

    • Translate

      The triad is displayed with arrows, which can be dragged to move nodes around.

    • Rotate

      This displays an interlocking circle triad, which can be dragged to rotate. All selected items rotate around the averaged triad.

    • Scale

      Similar to translate triad but with squares on the end of the arrows.

      Dragging will scale the selected nodes.

      This only scales in XYZ, so rotated models will weight scaling based on rotation to get the closest.

      For example; a model rotated 45 degrees in Y and scaled in X will scale 50% in X and 50% in Z.

Options Panel

This allows the following options, for the resulting DriveWorks 3D Document, to be controlled.

Document Name

This is the name of the new Document to be created.

To Build a File Name Rule

The rule for the File Name of the new Document is built by:

  1. Click the Build button at the end of the File Name Rule field
  2. Enter a name for the Document in the Rule Builder

Document Path

This is the location to store the new Document when it is created.

To Build a Path Rule

The rule for the path to store the new Document is built by:

  1. Click the Build button at the end of the Path Rule field
  2. Enter a qualified path in the Rule Builder that will be the location of the new Document.

Path Rule Examples


If no file path is specified the Document will be located at the location specified by the settings Default Specification Folder and Specification Path to form the location:

Default Specification Folder \ Specification Path


Will go back a level (..\) from the project location and place the new Document in a folder named Documents.

If the Documents folder does not exist DriveWorks will create it when the Document is created
"F:\DriveWorks\" & CustomerReturn & "\" & DWVariableOrderNumber & "\Documents" Will create the Document on the network drive F:\DriveWorks. From this point the folder structure calculated by the input Customer, the variable OrderNumber and \Documents will be created.
"\\FileServer\DriveWorks\" & CustomerReturn & "\" & DWVariableOrderNumber & "\Documents"Will create the Document on the UNC path \\FileServer\DriveWorks. From this point the folder structure calculated by the input Customer, the variable OrderNumber and \Documents will be created.

Export File

When Drive3D Export Options is selected from the options panel a new menu will launch displaying a list of General options:

  • Create Drive3D - Creates a .drive3D file. Click Build to build a rule for the file.
  • Collapse Drive3D file - Collapses all Nodes in a document into a single Node and a single Geometry. Click Build to build a rule for the file.
  • Collapse and group by appearance - Group and merge geometries that share the same Appearance. Click Build to build a rule for the file.

Create Drive3D

When checked DriveWorks will create a .drive3D file.

The Drive3D file will only be created when the Specification Transitions to a State where the Release Documents task is used.

Collapse Drive3D file

"Create Drive3D" must be checked to make this option available.

Collapse Drive3D file is an option that can be enabled when creating a Drive3D file from a DriveWorks 3D Document.

This option will collapse all the Nodes in a 3D document down into a single Node. It will also collapse all geometries to a single geometry that is used on that single Node. All Appearances will however be maintained.

The result is a collapsed Node structure to a single Node and a single Geometry.

This collapse functionality can result in files that are larger than non collapsed files. This is because all Geometry is being combined into one file. However, the reduced Node structure can result in smaller scene files and better performance, it all depends on Geometry size.

Whilst all Geometries are collapsed into one file, they are stored and treated as separate geometries inside the one Geometry. This can sometimes mean rendering performance doesn't improve. To improve rendering performance look at using the setting Collapse and group geometries by Appearance.

Please note that any Entities that are added to Nodes will not be exported. However, temporary models that are replaced into the scene using the Replace Model Entity will be exported as Geometry.

Collapse and group by appearance

"Create Drive3D" and "Collapse Drive3D file" must be checked to make this option available..

Collapse and group geometries by appearance is an additional setting to Collapse Drive3D file . Rather than keeping geometries separate in one file, this option will group and merge geometries that use the same Appearance.

This means that if two or more geometries use the same Appearance they will be merged into a single geometry. The benefit of doing this can be seen when the 3D file is rendering.

When a model is rendered by a graphics processor (GPU) it makes draw calls. A Draw Call is defined by a model and an Appearance. If you have one model with one Appearance the GPU will make one Draw Call. If you have a model that has four Appearances then four draw calls will be made on the GPU.

Collapse and group geometries by Appearance to improve rendering performance and keep the number of draw calls to a minimum.

This is how you would render large scenes like factories or warehouses.

Like the previous setting, this can result in a Drive3D file being larger than the non-collapsed files.

Despite the file being potentially larger, it can still significantly improve performance and implementations. All Appearances will be maintained as they are with the previous setting.

Also, if you have replacement models that are not being driven or changed, then we recommend collapsing these as well to improve performance.

Please note that Entities that are added to Nodes will not be exported. However, temporary models that are replaced into the scene using the Replace Model Entity will be exported as a geometry.

Hide From Document List

When this setting is enabled (by checking the box) the document will be hidden from the Documents list in the Specification Explorer.

Feature Panel

The Feature Panel allows the selection of the following:

Features are modified or added by right clicking on any item and choosing the required menu item.

  • Environment

    Selecting this will display all parameters that can be applied in the Parameter Panel.

  • Assets

    This contains sub-folders for each asset that has been added to the 3D Document.

    Selecting any asset will display all parameters that can be applied in the Parameter Panel.

  • Root (Nodes)

    This displays the Node structure of the 3D model.

    Add or modify Nodes from the right click menu.

    Add or modify entities to nodes from the right click menu.

Filter the Feature Panel

The Filter box at the top of the Feature Panel allows items to be filtered by name or type.

For example:

Type face in the Filter will display any feature that contains Face in the address.

Type entity:face in the Filter will display any entity feature that contains Face in the address.

3D View

When a Drive3D file has been added it will be displayed in the 3D View.

This is how the file will be viewed when applied to the 3D Preview Box control.

The model view can be controlled with the mouse by:

  • Rotate - left click and drag.
  • Zoom - scroll the mouse wheel.
  • Pan - right click and drag or mouse wheel click and drag.
Nodes can be selected from the 3D View.

Multi-select nodes from the 3D View by holding the CTRL key while selecting each node.

Without a .drive3D model appliedWith a .drive3D model applied

Parameter Panel

The Parameter Panel displays the parameters of any feature selected in the Feature Panel.

Typical Parameters displayed in the Parameter Panel

Parameters are displayed in a list with the following information:

  • Name

    The Parameter Name

  • Value

    The current value of the Parameter

  • Rule

    the Rule applied to the Parameter

  • Comment

    Any comment applied to the Rule

  • Address

    The full address of the parameter.

To build a rule for a selected parameter:

  1. Double click the required parameter from the list.


    Select the required parameter from the list and click the Build button from the command bar.

  2. Enter the rule in the Rule builder.

DriveWorks Tech Tips Portal

DriveWorks 3D

This Tech Tip demonstrates the different ways a 3D Preview can be implemented

View all Tech Tips

DriveWorks Tech Tips Portal is available to DriveWorks Pro customers with an active subscription and support contract.

Tech Tips provide simplified projects that highlight specific functionality for faster and more effective learning.

To access the portal:

  1. Go to https://my.driveworks.co.uk/learn/tech-tips/
  2. Log in with your DriveWorks Pro account credentials, if requested
  3. Click the Visit Tech Tips Portal button for access

The portal provides a search facility, start typing the name of the Tech Tip (as indicated above) to display the Tip you require.