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Streamline your data workflows with PiXYZ 2019.1

May 8, 2019 in AEC | 6 min. read
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The 2019.1 releases of PiXYZ STUDIO and PiXYZ PLUGIN for Unity deliver some major advancements, including new and improved algorithms, a revamped UI, and tighter integration with Unity. These advancements bring better quality models, faster processing, and greater productivity to your workflow.

For 2019.1, PiXYZ has focused on development efforts, resulting in a long list of new features for both PiXYZ STUDIO and PiXYZ PLUGIN for Unity. Core elements of the PiXYZ workflow now seamlessly integrate with Unity, and improvements to algorithms provide even more power to optimize models for performance and quality. UI improvements make both PiXYZ products easier to use for the novice and expert alike. Let’s dive into some of the improvements, starting with the PLUGIN – which is now also available for Mac OS!

For more detail, please refer to the new and improved documentation pages for PiXYZ.

Plugged In

PiXYZ PLUGIN for Unity was developed to provide a simple workflow to import CAD and other data into Unity with just a few mouse clicks. The PLUGIN still does this job admirably but has evolved recently to provide much more capability. This is apparent from the expanded features now available in the 2019.1 release. Let’s start with new import capabilities. The PLUGIN can now import VRED data directly into Unity, including model geometry, variants, animations, material properties, and textures. Within Unity, the PLUGIN rule engine can assign materials according to their VRED counterparts while maintaining associativity with variant switches. Note that VRED must be installed on the same machine as the PLUGIN to enable these import capabilities.

The new import capabilities aren’t limited to VRED, however. The PLUGIN can now import polylines so that laser marking data and line drawings can be represented in Unity. This is especially useful for visualizing 2D floor-plans within Unity. Users can also optionally import lines representing patch boundaries from CAD data. Revit import now includes Revit 2019, and compared to previous releases, Revit import is much faster, more accurate, and supports import of much larger models. Levels of Detail (LODs) can now also be created automatically if the source data contains parts named using a “LODn” naming convention.

2D DWG floorplan imported into Unity using PiXYZ PLUGIN 2019.1

The PLUGIN includes several new features. You can now automatically generate UVs for lightmaps, create normals, explode sub-meshes, remove hidden geometry, repair meshes, replace geometry with boxes, and re-topologize using a proxy mesh, voxels, or marching cube algorithms. The PLUGIN also now integrates with improvements in Unity Prefabs, and adds a scripted import workflow for all formats not already natively supported within Unity. Of course, all of these new features are accessible interactively through the Toolbox, can be included in an automated workflow via the Rule Engine, and can be incorporated into C# scripts.

Existing algorithms are improved as well. 2019.1 imports models faster than ever, and the tessellation algorithms have been enhanced to provide better quality, which is remarkable since PiXYZ is widely considered to have the best tessellation algorithms in the market. Decimation has also been improved, with better mesh quality for a specified level of decimation.

Right-click menu in Unity showing new features in PiXYZ PLUGIN 2019.1

Plus, as mentioned above, all of the power of PiXYZ PLUGIN is now available to Mac users! Beginning with 2019.1, Unity users on Mac OS can use the PLUGIN directly within the Unity editor.

STUDIO unleashed

As numerous as the updates to PiXYZ PLUGIN 2019.1 are, the extent of improvements to PiXYZ STUDIO is even more impressive. These improvements are mainly in the areas of UI, interactive manipulation, product structure representation, scripting, and of course core algorithm capabilities.

UI improvements contain one of the most asked-for features in PiXYZ STUDIO – Undo/Redo! Using the new Undo/Redo feature, you can easily unwind mistakes, or explore multiple options to find the optimization technique that produces the best results. All PiXYZ functions and algorithms are now available from the Function List, and parameters for functions can now be easily reset to their defaults. Other upgrades include direct access to Help from function tooltips, a simplified tree view, and the ability to directly copy Python code from the functions window.

Individual parts can now be manipulated using the new Transform gizmo, including the ability to modify the pivot point of each part. New selection capabilities allow you to select sub-mesh elements such as patches or polygons directly in the viewport, then perform actions on the selection such as deleting or changing the orientation of faces.

Product structures (scene trees) are also now represented more accurately, and the Scene Tree representing the structure can be modified more easily. The product structure of an imported CAD model is now completely faithful to the original, and no longer includes instance, empty, or intermediate nodes that are not present in the original model. This accurate product structure is fully preserved when exported from STUDIO. Each node in the hierarchy is an occurrence, which is analogous to a GameObject within Unity. Each occurrence carries properties (e.g., unique ID, name, transform, visibility, material) which can be edited in a new Inspector panel, and PiXYZ STUDIO now supports property inheritance within the hierarchy. Each occurrence can receive one or more components which can be used to control its behavior, again analogous to how GameObjects in Unity can receive components. Available components are Part, Light, PMI (Product Manufacturing Information), Interaction Behavior, and Visual Behavior. The product structure can now be modified interactively with tools to move/copy/paste/duplicate nodes (and complete sub-assemblies), create new nodes, hide/show nodes, and merge/compress/explode nodes. Scripting applied to the product structure is now much simpler, as the complex Scene Paths concept has been replaced with an Occurrences List.

Dynamic modification of product structure

The same algorithm improvements included in the PLUGIN are also available in STUDIO, plus additional algorithms such as the use of convex hulls to re-topologize geometry. Other algorithm improvements include a new Replace function which can replace occurrences with sub-assemblies, meshes, or geometry primitives, as well as an improved Smart Orient algorithm to automatically orient all faces in a complete model.

New Re-Tessellate and Back to BRep algorithms significantly improve iterative workflows. With the Re-Tessellate function, you can now regenerate tessellation for any occurrence (and all children in the hierarchy), up to the full scene. Using the Back to BRep function, you can return to the original CAD model to fine-tune the entire optimization process. UV generation is also significantly improved in PiXYZ STUDIO 2019.1. UVs can now be generated using a variety of techniques – plane, box/tri-planar, spherical, and cylindrical projection. The algorithm to repack UVs is also improved.

PiXYZ Plugin 2019.1 is compatible with Unity 2018.3 and later. If you’re an existing PiXYZ subscriber to one of these products, all you need to do is download and install the latest version from the PiXYZ website. If you’re new to PiXYZ, then visit Unity’s PiXYZ page to request a free trial.

May 8, 2019 in AEC | 6 min. read
Topics covered