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Checking assemblability using a 3D controller and collision detection (penetration prevention)

Question asked by Christopher Dundorf on Jul 15, 2012
Latest reply on Jul 15, 2012 by John Layne

We've all been here...  You have an assembly and need to know if it can be put together in real life without interference.  In my case I have a part that needs to be inserted into an narrow opening of an enclosure, rotated 90 degrees, translated in X then Y, etc.  I can move the part into position via the 3D controller (Space Navigator) but it's difficult to see when it interferes with other components.  I've created section cuts and made this and that transparent but I don't really know for certain if its sharing space with other components.  It also takes too much time to even get to this point.  

What I'd like to do is invoke a collision detection of sorts that prevents pentration into other components while I'm position the part with the 3D controller.  I'd manipulate the part orientation and position via the 3D controller until it either fits in the assembly or geometry gets an adjustment.  Can this be done?