Guess what kind of wild 3D manipulation news came flying out of Velizy, France today? Wrong, it has nothing to do with crêpes, large mustaches or the combination of the two.

It’s all about 3D and iPads and viewing the 3D, on the iPad. The news actually ‘leaked’ out late last week with an early release of the app to iTunes, but today Dassault officially released 3DVia Mobile HD for the iPad. It scales up the 3D viewing capabilities of the iPhone version, but you’ll notice something missing. Even more, you’ll miss what should be “Now available on iTunes.”

3DVia Mobile HD (iTunes) will sell for $4.99, but it’s currently on sale for $1.99. Really, it should be free. Why? First take a look at what you get.

Here are a few images you’ll see floating around…

Here’s what features are included:

  • 3D viewing
  • 3DVIA 3D model search
  • Export 2D renderings (images) to Facebook and e-mail
  • Private publishing on 3D models
  • Comment on and rate 3D models from the iPad

Here’s what’s missing:

  • Open SolidWorks drawings, assemblies and parts
  • Open models from email, Dropbox or Google Docs
  • Take a picture and put your model on top of it
  • Flip through and animate standard views
  • Section models
  • Measure models
  • Hide parts

You’ll recognize most of the missing features as being part of the standard and professional eDrawings functionality. The other, putting your model on top of an image, is a feature of the iPhone version of 3DVia Mobile, which is not possible with the iPad version since the 1st gen iPad lacks a camera. That’s one reason why it should be free. If it doesn’t have the capability the lesser app has, don’t make people pay for it.

Here’s the idea with 3DVia though. You can open and view any model able to be uploaded to 3DVia – .3ds, .obj, .iges, .step, .kmz, .3DXML, etc. You can share the models. You can use those model across different web apps, including within Microsoft’s Virtual Earth. Most likely the models will be part of a future “marketplace” for people who put the models of their 3D product online with 3DVia. It’s the large scale plan that probably goes beyond even that.

Currently, you can’t directly upload a SolidWorks model (Inventor, CATIA, Pro/E or any other MCAD format.) It’s the whole complicated geometry issue. That will hardly matter as both SolidWorks and CATIA build in more web-compliant format, namely 3DXML. However, thousands of people use eDrawings everyday to share SolidWorks models and coordinate those models with production, not 3DVia. So where is eDrawings for the iPad.

I speculated about eDrawings for iphone. We haven’t seen it yet or heard of any development. As a matter of fact, SolidWorks Labs has been extremely quiet. Here’s why I think we haven’t seen it. It would conflict directly with what Dassault wants to do with 3DVia. If there are two 3D viewers out there, the one you want people to use, may not be the one they choose. Particularly, when it comes to SolidWorks users. eDrawings would be the choice. With “over 1 million license sold” you would wonder why eDrawing, or any sort of SolidWorks development in the mobile (iPhone, iPad, Android) arena would not be priority.

Now, will we ever see eDrawings for iPad? It should have been developed first, but with Dassault pulling the purse strings and the development strings and the corporate strategy strings, we may not see it till they pull SolidWorks and it’s sister products into the 3DVia and V6 fold.


Josh is founder and editor at, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.