Advantages of VR in machine design

Virtual reality is an invaluable tool in the machine design process to allow for visualization and evaluation of designs before they are built.  VR allows for a fundamentally new workspace that provides a sense of depth, scale, and interaction not available from a 2D monitor.  VR offers a number of advantages that haven’t been available in the traditional design process until now.

The use of tracked hand controllers and a 1:1 scale machine model in virtual space allows potential workers to interact with a machine or work station before it is even built. It is easy to evaluate ergonomics, safety, and practicality in a VR environment.

Consider the following questions that are common during an automated machine design process.  All of these questions may be difficult to evaluate with a traditional CAD system but intuitive and straightforward in VR.

Ergonomic Evaluation

  • Can the worker easily reach all part locations without moving their feet?
  • Will a particular assembly position require a worker to bend over or reach in an uncomfortable fashion?
  • Does the worker have a well designed work cell that allow for easy access of parts and the work piece?
  • Can the operator complete all necessary motions to operate the machine at rate?
  • Is the machine HMI positioned at the correct height?

Machine Safety Evaluation

  • Are there openings in the guarding that allow the operator to reach in?
  • Are E-stop buttons within reach of the operator?
  • How far can an operator reach through a particular gap?

Customer Presentation

  • What will the completed machine look like?
  • How will the new machine fit next to current equipment?

Operator Training

  • How are parts loaded into the machine?
  • What are the assembly steps in a manual work cell?


Hello VR

Welcome to CAD-VR!

This site aims to deliver news and information regarding the integration of virtual reality with CAD systems.  Consumer headsets such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are nearing release and represent some of the most advanced VR technology developed to date.

I expect these HMDs to be quickly adopted by design professionals as a tool for understanding and demonstrating the scale of conceptual designs.  The potential is high but there is an information void regarding the use of VR with CAD.  Currently there is little to no native support for these headsets in design packages.  Workflows and best practices need to be developed.

This site is here to help.