How to measure 3D models

How to measure 3D models
LensKeywords: 3D measuring, dimensions, distance, radius, height, area, volume, bounding box, measuring units, precision

This tutorial covers everything you need to know about 3D measuring. ABViewer enables to make measurements in every 3D file it supports, including: STEP, IGES, STL, SLDPRT, X_T, X_B, SAT, OBJ, BREP, 3D DWG/DXF.

General Information

We will start with getting the general information. In order to do this, it is necessary to activate the Structure panel (Viewer 3D -> Panels -> Structure). The panel is floating, i.e. it is possible to move it, attach it to any side of the main window, and resize.

Main window of ABViewer with the Structure panel

The Structure panel is divided into two panes. The upper one shows the file content as a tree structure. The lower one shows its properties, including overall dimensions, volume, area, and center of mass.

Structure panel

To know the properties of a separate object or a group of objects, select it in the tree structure or click on it in the drawing area. This panel is also used to control the visibility of objects. Remove a check mark next to the name of any object and it will be hidden.

Another way to get the overall dimensions of the 3D model is to use the Bounding box tool (Viewer 3D -> Visual Styles -> Bounding Box).

Bounding box of the 3D model

Detailed Information

Now let's move on to more detailed information. ABViewer offers three measuring tools: Distance, Edge, and Area.

Measuring tools

The Distance tool has two measuring modes: Between points and Between edges.

Two modes of the Distance tool

With the first mode activated, you can get the distance between two points and height between two parallel surfaces.

First mode of the Distance tool

With the second mode activated - the distance between two circle centers and between two parallel edges.

Second mode of the Distance tool

The Edge tool measures the length of an edge and the radius of a circle or a circular arc.

Getting radius with the Edge tool

The Area tool is used to measure the area of a selected part.

Getting area of the 3D model

The results of measurements are displayed in the Measure panel and added above the 3D model. The dimension text can be moved – click on it and then click on the place where you want it to be. If you want to delete it, press the Delete key.

Measuring Units and Precision

To change the measuring units, call the Options dialog box (File -> Options -> Measure). Here you need to set the original units of the 3D model (units in which it was created) and the units in which you want the measurement results to be displayed.

Changing of the measuring units

On the same Measure tab, it is possible to select how precise you want the measurements to be.

Saving of Measurements

ABViewer enables to save the 3D model with the measurements you made as a PDF or raster file (File -> Save as). Or save all the measurements in a separate file and load them when necessary. To do this, open the Measure window and click on the Save button.

Saving of measurements

A new XML file with the measurements will be created in the same folder where the 3D file is located. If you want it to be created in another folder, click on the dropdown button, select Save to, and specify the file path.

Saving of measurements to another folder

The next time you open this 3D file, click the Load button in the Measure window and the measurements will be loaded.

Loading of measurements

If you changed the file path, click on the dropdown button and select Load from. Thus, you can save time and don’t measure the same 3D model twice.