3d modeling software - Aplications, benefits and tools

Many of the objects that we interact with daily were first created in a digital environment using sophisticated 3D modeling software. Everything from the furniture in our living rooms, the appliances in our kitchens, the computers in our office, to the games we play are made with 3D modeling software.

What is 3D modeling exactly? How do engineers and designers use 3D modeling software? What 3D modeling software do industry professionals prefer? What is the future of 3D modeling software? Join us as we explore the intricacies of 3D modeling and the software that makes our modern world possible.

Creating 3D models - What is a 3D modeling software?

3D models are created using three-dimensional computer aided design (CAD) programs. A 3D model is composed of vertices that are merged to create a mesh. This mesh acts as the core of the model. Every point where the vertices intersect on the mesh core can be manipulated to vary the shape and dimensions of the model. 3D modeling software uses coordinate data to pinpoint each vertical and horizontal point of the model as they relate to a certain reference point.
The 3D modeling process starts with the designer creating a simple mesh shape and then gradually adding to it to make it more complex. Once the designer has a shape that represents the object they wish to visualize, the 3D model can be further enhanced using computer graphics to make it more lifelike. 
3D modeling software allows engineers and designers to create lifelike digital mathematical representations of any type of shape or object. The vast majority of the products, machinery, components, and structures we encounter every day have been designed and tested using 3D modeling software. This streamlined workflow ensures efficient and accurate creation and modification of 3D models for various applications.

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The benefits of using 3D modeling software as a powerful tool

One of the core benefits of 3D modeling is that it allows designers and engineers to create a realistic digital representation of an object that can be viewed in a digital environment from any angle, interacted with through an intuitive interface, and subjected to real-world stresses.

3D models can be manipulated and tested without the need for a physical prototype. Designs can be altered without having to be continuously redrawn. This greatly decreases waste, saves on resources, and reduces the length of the design process and time to market.
The precision and accuracy of 3D modeling software enable easy and enhanced product design processes and reduce the risk of manufacturing errors. Indeed, the manufacturing process itself can be simulated and streamlined using surface modeling in CAD software.

Companies can be more dynamic and agile with 3D modeling software. Digital renderings of 3D models can be produced quickly, so businesses can rapidly respond to customer demands. Collaboration and communication between colleagues and clients can be facilitated via online 3D modeling software, streamlining the workflow and ensuring efficient project management. 

What is 3D modeling used for?

Designers, engineers, and artists use 3D modeling to create products, structures, vehicles, daily objects, artworks, films, and video games. As well as producing realistic models of objects for visualization purposes, 3D CAD software can be used to develop simulations. These simulations can provide information on how an object may react to environmental stresses or changes to its structural design, parts, or materials, aiding in the production process. This capability makes 3D modeling a crucial part of the product development process. 

Advanced 3D modeling software is now widely used in

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The different types of 3D modeling software features

Polygon modeling software

Often referred to as polyhedral modeling, polygon modeling is most commonly used by video game and animation companies. This software is used to create 3D objects from small components known as tris (triangles) and poly (polygons). Each tris or poly is a flat shape defined by the location of its vertices and edges. Polygon modeling software is ideal for instances where a high level of precision or accuracy is not required. 

NURBS modeling software

NURBS is an acronym for Non-Uniform Rational B-Splines and is sometimes referred to as curve modeling. While polygon modeling software creates models from a mesh of triangles and polygons, NURBS modeling software uses circles, arcs, and curves to create complex 3D shapes. Models made with NURBS are precise and can be scaled to any size with no loss of surface quality. Although preferable to polygon models, models made with NURBS are more difficult to create.

Subdivision surface modeling software

This technique creates high-resolution 3D models by subdividing a simple cage mesh model. This subdivision process increases the number of vertices and makes the curves of the model rounder. Typically, each subdivision results in an increase of four times the original number of vertices. Using subdivision surface modeling software allows designers to create smooth, complex surfaces based on simple geometric shapes. Users can use this technology to create freeform organic shapes faster and more easily than with NURBS or polygonal software. 

3D sculpting software

3D sculpting software allows for the creation of incredibly detailed models. Rather like an artist working with clay, 3D sculpting enables users to push, pull, pinch, smooth, grab, and otherwise manipulate a digital model. While 3D modeling is the manipulation of the edges and vertices of a polygonal mesh, 3D sculpting works by manipulating the indirect lines of the 3D model. In other words, it softens and blends the hard edges of polygon models. Digital sculpting can be used to create highly realistic and organic-like models and is used in product design, animation, video game development, and in the film industry.

3D printing and 3D modeling software

Also known as additive manufacturing, 3D printing technology is now becoming commonplace. 3D printing involves using a specialized printer to create a physical, solid, three-dimensional object based on a digital model produced with parametric 3D modeling software. The model is then prepared for printing by slicing it into hundreds or thousands of thin horizontal segments, often based on the feedback and reviews from users and experts.
The sliced 3D model is saved as a file and uploaded to the 3D printer. Thin layers of material are placed upon each other by the printer until an exact physical representation of the 3D digital model has been created. This process is called material extrusion. The material extrusion process is finished when all layers corresponding to the digital model have been printed.


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What is the future of 3D modeling software?

Designers, engineers, and artists are still exploring the possibilities of existing 3D modeling software. Advances in technology are continuously creating potential new uses for online 3D modeling software.

While it is impossible to know what the future may hold, some industry experts have made the following predictions:

Virtual reality and augmented reality

The role of 3D modeling software in virtual reality and augmented reality applications will expand resulting in the ability to create 3D models within these environments

Digital twin technology

Highly sophisticated digital twin technology made possible via 3D modeling software will enable innovations in industries such as healthcare, manufacturing, and mechanical design

Artificial intelligence

Developments in artificial intelligence (AI) will result in increased automation of 3D modeling processes. AI will also be used to correct errors and enhance accuracy in 3D models

Gaming and film industry

The gaming and film industry will develop ever more hyper-realistic animations and computer-generated 3D special effects

Explore industry leading 3D modeling solutions from Dassault Systèmes

Dassault Systèmes proudly stands at the forefront of 3D design software. For decades, industry professionals across a wide range of sectors have relied on us to provide them with powerful, highly sophisticated 3D modeling software.

Complex 3D models can be created quickly and easily using Dassault Systèmes suite of browser-based 3D modeling solutions. 


The SOLIDWORKS Cloud Offer CAD package provides users with the ability to create complex 3D models and photorealistic product renderings. Every stage of the design process can be achieved from the initial ideation process to collaborative design work with colleagues, simulations and testing, right through to the final construction or manufacturing phase.

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The power of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform

Storing and accessing files and collaborating with stakeholders is made easier and more secure using the open 3DEXPERIENCE platform. The 3DEXPERIENCE platform hosts on the cloud all of Dassault Systèmes sophisticated CAD design tools and allows all stakeholders to collaborate and communicate effectively. Benefit from a single platform that can accommodate all tasks and allows for a design to be shared seamlessly across the different teams, regardless of the devices being used or the location of your colleagues.

Industry standard softwares

Widely used in the aerospace and automotive industries for decades, the parametric 3D modeling softwares from Dassault Systèmes are now being utilized by industry professionals in a diverse range of sectors, including production. From developing the next cartoon action hero to discovering more sustainable ways to build our homes, designers find that they can realize their visions and exceed their goals with Dassault Systèmes.

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