9 Replies Latest reply on Feb 13, 2019 12:12 PM by Scott Hamilton

    eDrawings Open in VR - Summary

    Arnav Mukherjee

      Hi Guys,

      The topic of eDrawings Direct VR through the “Open in VR” has come up a lot in multiple threads and I thought I’d put all the points together in one place, hence this post. Please feel free to add to this if I have missed something.


      The eDrawings Direct VR is a new functionality in eDrawings Pro 2019 SP01 Full release. This functionality enables you to open native SOLIDWORKS Parts and Assemblies (*.SLDPRT and *.SLDASM) in eDrawings and then see them in VR with a single click.  No other software (other than the headset drivers) or game engine is needed for this to work. This is still a Beta feature so please consider it like any other Beta functionality.


      System Requirements:

      • Processor: Intel i5 or i7 running Windows 10. Windows 7 is not supported.
      • RAM: Minimum 32 GB
      • Graphics card: nVidia Quadro P3000 and up. This feature is heavily dependent on GPU so you will appreciate a high end nVidia graphics card. We do not support AMD yet.
      • VR Headset: HTC Vive running on Steam (not out of a kettle).
      • Software: eDrawings Pro 2019 SP01 Full not Early Visibility


      Setting up for VR

      First step is to ensure that your HTC vive is installed properly and that you can run Steam demos on the HTC Vive like the Lab Demo. If you have not done this step, please refer to the HTC Vive setup documentation and download the necessary drivers/steam from their website: https://www.vive.com/eu/setup/


      Make sure you have the latest nVidia Graphics drivers. This is REALLY important.


      If you are running on a Laptop, please ensure that you are running on nVidia Graphics and not Intel Graphics. Many times even though your Laptop may have a fancy nVidia Quadro P5000, it may be still using the Onboard Intel Graphics. To change this, Right Mouse Button on the Windows Background and you will find nVidia Control Panel. Here you should pick “High-Performance nVidia Processor” from the dropdown under “Preferred Graphics Processor” instead of intel graphics.


      Once your HTC Vive is working and you have installed eDrawings Pro 2019 SP01 Full, the “Open in VR (Beta)” under the Files menu does NOT show up out of the box. You need to add an environment variable ED_RS_ENABLE_VR and set it to true first. The steps are:

      • In the Windows 10  search bar type “env” and hit enter
      • The “Systems Property” dialog comes up and there is a button to add “Environment Variable…”. Click on this button.
      • Click “New” under the User Variables and add ED_RS_ENABLE_VR and set its value to “true”
      • Now when you launch eDrawings, you will see a new menu item “Open in VR (Beta)”.

      We added this extra step so that eDrawings users who are not going to use the VR feature is not affected at the slightest.


      Getting the VR Resources

      Now you are almost there. One last thing you will need is to get the VR resources for eDrawings to use. This contains the images, textures and Vive controller models that eDrawings VR needs to work properly. We do not ship this with eDrawings because of space restrictions.


      When you fire up eDrawings for the first time and click on “Open in VR (Beta)” it will detect that this is not setup and will throw up a dialog and allow you to download this resource. It is an installer “exe” and you can run it to install these resources anywhere on your hard drive. In case you are not prompted by the dialog here is the site to download:



      • Install this anywhere on your machine. It contains the textures, floors, skies, controller models etc.


      • Then go to eDrawings->Options->Import tab and add this location in the "SolidWorks Materials Folder". Click Ok.


      • Restart eDrawings. Don’t forget to restart eDrawings or it won’t register the path.



      You should be all ready to VR now. Fire up eDrawings and open up any SOLIDWORKS Part or Assembly using “Open in VR (Beta)”.

      • The model loads up into what looks like a simple viewer where you can rotate/pan/zoom. We internally call this the “Pancake Mode”.


      • We add a default Floor and Sky for you and keep the Environment dialog open so that you can play around with it.


      • There is a Help button called "Controls" that will pop up a dialog showing you what the controller buttons do.


      • Make sure that your HTC Vive and the controllers are plugged in and turned on and click on the VR Play button. The model will be inside the Headset. If your room calliberation is set right it will be a 1:1 scaled model of your SOLIDWORKS Part or Assembly.


      • Please use the Controller with the Blue Laser and use the buttons as described in the help diagram that you can get from the help button at the bottom called “Controls”



      Other points to keep in mind:

      • Your VR starting point is the Origin of your SOLIDWORKS Model looking into the model as if you are in the Front View. So if your origin was inside a component you will start off standing inside the component. While this is a cool effect, it may not be desirable. I have found that in such cases it is better to create a new Top Level SOLIDWORKS Assembly and place this assembly inside the new one where the Origin is placed in a more desirable place.


      • The VR Floor is placed at the lower plane of the bounding box of your model.


      • We project what is happening inside the headset during VR on the regular screen so that other people in the room can see what you are up to inside the headset. This image does look a bit stretched because the HTC Vive screen and your monitor are different aspect ratio.


      • The Sky is not pick-able, so you cannot jump to the sky, but the Floor and any component is pick-able and also jump-able. So you can pick or stand on any component should you chose to do so and hop to any point on the floor.


      • Depending on the size of your model, VR will take up a lot of bandwidth to maintain 90 frames per second refresh rate. So please keep in mind that if you have other software like SOLIDWORKS or other applications running with multiple models open, it is going to strain your overall computer resources. However there is no file size restriction but is a function of your RAM and the GPU you are using.


      • We have seen a crash with assemblies that contain Speedpack. In this case you have to resolve them and resave. I’d also recommend that you open your top level assembly in Fully Resolved mode and do a rebuild and save it. This refreshes the display list in the file and helps in the VR side of things.



      Hope this helps you get started.



        • Re: eDrawings Open in VR - Summary
          Mark Jackson

          Hi Arnav,

          Thanks for the very informative article.


          Are there any plans to add support for Visualize .SVPJ projects?


          I've been working hard at getting photoreal 3D SOLIDWORKS models into AR/VR environments. Taking a .SLDASM into Visualize, doing the work to make it photoreal, then exporting to .FBX or .OBJ to bring into Unity or Unreal, then having to fix a million appearances is a terrible work flow.




            • Re: eDrawings Open in VR - Summary
              Arnav Mukherjee

              Hi Mark,

              Currently there are no plans to support the .SVPJ files in eDrawings. However one thing to keep in mind is that you would not be able to get VR at SW Visualize quality (Photorealistic) and maintain 90 fps for even small assemblies even on a top nVidia card. Unreal and Unity are graphically better but not photorealistic.


              One option here is a cheap man's VR where you output 360 jpegs from SW Visualize and VR them in a 360 viewer. Again they are just images at the end of the day but are indeed photorealistic.




                • Re: eDrawings Open in VR - Summary
                  Greg Belcik

                  Arnav, Thanks for summarizing these steps!


                  Mark, I have been trying to get a more photorealistic VR experience for several years. The "fastest" workflow that I have been able to create is utilizing simlab composer VR. The rendering engine is not as good as visualize, but what they do is bake the textures from the render back into the model before pushing into the VR environment.  The result is very nice, but the transition from solidworks to any mesh models always seems to create some time consuming problems.  Hopefully this gets implemented into a stable and usable workflow in SW.

                  • Re: eDrawings Open in VR - Summary
                    Mark Jackson

                    Hi Arnav,


                    I have been able to create VR experiences and presentations in Unity at almost photorealistic quality of a couple small machines. I would call it high-end game quality "photorealish". It's actually plenty good enough for the needs being fulfilled. The biggest problem for me is that importing the Visualize project (exported from Visualize as an .obj or .fbx) has huge issues with flipped normals, transparencies, and other appearance problems that require most surfaces needing to be redone. I've experimented with utilizing Blender or Substance Painter to fix the appearances, but in the end, what I have now is a terribly horrific and time consuming workflow.


                    I have exported 360° jpegs for creating interactive 360° website viewing experiences with another application. That project is going very well, but the software can't create an AR/VR experience. Do you have a recommendation for software to take the 360° jpegs to create a VR experience?




                      • Re: eDrawings Open in VR - Summary
                        Arnav Mukherjee

                        Hi Mark,

                        Unfortunately we do not have an official 360 jpeg viewer, but as a user of the product I have sometimes used YouTube.


                        However if you are coming to SOLIDWORKS World 2019 in Dallas we have some of your questions answered in the R&D Booth . This is where we show off some of the tech that R&D works on as experiments and wants user-feedback. These may or may not make it into the product but its just a place for us to meet our customers and geek out with them.




                  • Re: eDrawings Open in VR - Summary
                    Scott Hamilton



                    Thanks for the instructions !  I have set everything up according to the instructions and tested my vive setup with other applications, all working well. When I start eDrawings and load a file using VR beta and hit play, I see the standard vive start environment but don't see a the SW model.  After about one minute the vive status panel reports edrawings application unresponsive.  Any ideas ?