By Riley Lewis
Earlier last week, I received the latest model Space Explorer 3D from 3D Connexion. These 3D mice are specifically designed for use with CAD systems like SolidWorks and are a huge benefit to designers as they let you work faster, more fluidly and with less stress. Having used these since I met the crew at 3D Connexion last year at Solid Work World, I really like them.
If you don’t know what a 3D mouse is and are using SolidWorks, you’re missing out on a very important tool to increase your design speed. It is almost a trackball like tool, but with a control hub in the center. You push and pull the hub, and it manipulates the model. It is a much more tactile interface than any sort of view menu or quick command.
At first glance, the new Space Explorer just appeared to have a slightly modified color scheme, but after using it for a few days, I fell in love with it and have it in daily use.
The shape of the mouse is subtly different from the first one, and this seems to be just a little better.
For long design sessions I am feeling a bit less hand strain, but this may be because I’m only 14. The new version also has replaced the “chicklet” buttons on the previous version which were sometimes tough to keep clicking during a complicated design.
The new buttons are full size with an easier press, so each button feels more like a key on a keyboard than anything else. The main control knob seems slightly tighter than my Space Pilot, but this just may be from lack of use. All in all, this is a welcome improvement that I hope carries over to the Space Pilot as well.
3D mice in general take a little getting used to. But when you are proficient, it becomes a tool that will enhance your modeling skill pretty hugely. I would say to at least try one out on your next big design project.