New CAD maxim: Two hands are better than one

Aug. 19, 2004
The manager at welding-machine maker ESAB says design times dropped by 30% thanks to something called a SpaceMouse.

The SpaceMouse and others support over 100 software programs including SolidWorks, Autodesk, Ansys, and Abaqus, as well as those from PTC, UGS, and VX. The digitizer has 11 programmable buttons and uses an optical nonwearing measuring system. ESAB's Saliba says the digitizer cut 30% of time off design cycles there.

The manager at welding-machine maker ESAB says design times dropped by 30% thanks to something called a SpaceMouse. It's a 3D motion controller now on each of the company's CAD systems. “Two hands are just more efficient than one,” says Joseph Saliba. Space-Mouse comes from 3Dconnexion, Los Gatos, Calif. (

Users navigate and position 3D models with one hand while simultaneously giving commands with the standard mouse. One particular operation that took 35 to 40 min with just the mouse and keyboard shortened to 20 min after adding the SpaceMouse. Another task normally spanning 20 mouse clicks and 32 sec done after six mouse clicks and only 18 sec.

On one occasion, Saliba had to work without the SpaceMouse. “It felt strange and frustrating. My left arm would twitch every time I tried to move an object. Even in 2D, the motion controller makes it easy to pan a drawing. It's the natural way to work.”

— Paul Dvorak


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