Swinging a baseball bat, driving a car, typing on your computer, and thousands of other daily and mundane tasks have one thing in common: They are all easier to do when you use both hands. This truth applies to almost every job, including in the world of designers and engineers who spend most of their days working in CAD. Yet, despite the proven benefits, many of these CAD professionals continue to use a one-handed approach when it comes to design.
The use of a dedicated 3D input device, most commonly referred to as a 3D mouse, is key to adopting a two-handed workflow. The 3D mouse provides users with the ability to simultaneously pan, zoom, and rotate models while the traditional mouse stays in its regular place. More advanced models provide a built-in wrist rest for greater comfort and an array of buttons for fingertip access to a users’ most commonly accessed application commands.
SpaceMouse Enterprise, 3Dconnexion’s most advanced 3D mouse, introduces easy-to-use, high-performance features that give users an unprecedented real-time understanding of engineering design. It’s counterpart, the CadMouse, is designed specifically for working in CAD.
A 3D mouse works in balance with a traditional mouse. This cooperative workflow distributes muscle movements evenly across both hands, resulting in less clicks, reduced mouse travel, and reduced strain on the body. Studies show a 3D mouse reduces right- and left-hand motions by 66%, meaning you deal with dramatically less muscle fatigue. According to VSI Risk Management and Ergonomics, 97% of users reported less pain when using a 3D mouse alongside their normal mouse.
The Technology Assessment Group (TAG), an independent product consulting ﬁrm specializing in product evaluation and productivity measurement, conducted research to assess the economic impact of 3D mouse use by CAD design engineers. User interface research by GE, IBM, and the University of Toronto suggested that substantial productivity gains result from using well-integrated 6-degree-of-freedom (6DoF) devices for complex 3D applications such as 3D CAD.
More than 84% of CAD design engineers surveyed through their research reported a noticeable or signiﬁcant improvement in their product designs and their ability to detect design problems as a result of using 3D mice. In addition, the report presented an average productivity gain of 28% from CAD users while using 3D mice.
A 5% productivity gain saves 88 hours annually, translating into a savings of $4,400 per engineer (assuming a $50 per hour hourly charge rate).
Based on research and findings, if companies want to improve productivity, comfort, and efficiency, a two-handed workflow should be implemented.
Ken Denton is a manager at 3Dconnexion, a supplier of high-performance input devices for CAD professionals.