Partner Perspectives

Creating Lightweight CAD Data through Enveloping Technology

By Altair Partner Alliance | Elysium Co. Ltd. |

This guest contribution on the Altair Blog is written by Shun Higashide, Global Business Analyst from Elysium who is a member of the Altair Partner Alliance.

With more entities being represented in a 3D CAD model, the file size is evermore increasing. This article will highlight the importance of creating lightweight CAD models and how technologies today can help make your processes flow smoother.

Large data size leads to performance issues, and long importing times in CAD systems, CAE tools and other systems used in the downstream processes. Unfortunately, sharing and opening files can be a challenge due to the large data size and there is also a consistent need to protect design intent and intellectual property when sharing detailed 3D models beyond boundaries.

Lightweight simplified CAD models can help solve these problems. There are multiple simplification technologies which make your data more accessible and shareable.

Removal of Technical Design Details (Defeaturing)

Removal of technical design details or defeaturing refers to the removal of features such as holes, fillets, grooves, etc. that is ideal for optimizing the preparation of CAE models for quicker and higher quality meshing. Please read “How Optimization of Geometry Aids Streamlining of CAD Data Preparation” to find out more about this technology.

Example of removing technical design details (defeaturing)

Replacing by Simple Shapes

Replacing by simple shapes refers to a geometry replacement of a 3D model by primitives such as cuboids, cylinders, or extruded shapes. If detailed geometry is unnecessary and performance counts more in use cases such as viewing and digital mock-up, this can be one method.

Example of replacing with simple shapes


Enveloping is merging complex parts or large assemblies into single solid models and deleting internal parts. Gaps are filled and small volumes are united. The outer geometry is retained being a perfect way to reduce your data size and protect IP.

Example of enveloping of a complex assembly

These simplification technologies are just a glimpse of what is possible.

CADdoctor, which is available through the Altair Partner Alliance is a tool that can solve your data issues.

[1] Christ, A.; Horlbeck, I. (2018): Simplify Your 3D Models: Collaborative Engineering Based on Lightweight CAD Data, ProductDataJournal 2 2018.