In most cases, importing 3D content into Unreal Engine doesn’t take too long. However, if you’re working with a very large scene, or a scene with high-poly geometry and a high vertex count, the import process can be more problematic, taking longer (potentially hours) and sometimes even resulting in Unreal Engine (UE4) crashing.

While most gaming models are low-poly and relatively easy to import into UE4, users from outside the gaming industry that work with large CAD files face bigger challenges. As more and more architectural and engineering companies recognize the benefits of using immersive experiences for product visualizations, finding a solution to efficiently import high-poly files into Unreal Engine will become a priority. And while Datasmith was created to tackle the problem of importing scenes and complex assemblies into UE4 for visualization, optimizing your scene before importing into Datasmith can offer huge performance benefits. Let’s go over some of the common drawbacks users may face when attempting to import a high poly file into Unreal without optimizing beforehand.

Common problems when importing large files into Unreal Engine

Long import times and engine crashes

Many users outside of the game industry that works with large CAD files face extremely long import times (up to 24 hours) when working with UE4. These extended import times are painful to users and can even result in the engine crashing entirely.

Errors due to tessellation

Another common problem is errors that may occur in your mesh after converting and importing. CAD formats commonly use curves and mathematical functions, which is necessary for manufacturing. However, for real-time engines like Unreal that continuously produce photoreal quality images, it’s best to work with geometry that’s made up of triangular meshes. In order for this to work, CAD files are tessellated, a process that computes triangular meshes that closely approximate the curved surfaces in normal CAD files.

While tessellation is an important step when preparing CAD data for real-time use turning high-precision engineering models into data that real-time engines can understand doesn’t come without a cost. Errors such as your outliner being expanded (leaving extra nodes and empty parents), and groups of objects being separated into individual objects, take a toll on processing power.

Conversion problems

Engineers and architects don’t model using the same software or techniques that artists or game designers use. Simply imagine a building that is being modeled for a game or an animation, versus it being modeled to be actually built. The model for manufacturing would need to include all the necessary layers, like MEP systems, every bolt and screw, and more. Whereas game or animation model would be far simpler. 

The massive amounts of data coming from CAD designs need to be converted to game-engine friendly language. But because gaming and animation versus manufacturing and engineering have such different purposes, Converting CAD data into FBX (a game engine friendly file format), can result in various errors that then need to be manually fixed by 3D teams.


Manual CAD clean-up

Facing all these challenges, engineering and architectural users of UE4 (or users that are trying to create product visualizations of their engineering and CAD files) resort to manual clean-up of their high-poly files to be able to efficiently and accurately import into UE4.

Given the benefits of having a clean and error-free file before importing into real-time engines, 3D teams allocate a significant amount of time to this task. Nonetheless, when 3D teams spend more time cleaning and sorting out project data instead of actually working on the visualization, you know there’s a problem in the workflow. Employing an automated solution to optimize complex CAD data would greatly improve the CAD to visualization workflow.

Automated optimization

Instead of manually optimizing CAD files before importing them into game engines, an automated solution like Meshmatic can be used. Meshmatic is a 3D optimization tool that improves the performance of heavy and complex models for real-time visualization and AR/VR applications.

Meshmatic specializes in pre-import optimization, meaning your files are cleaned up before importing into Datasmith, and all the data you actually import into Datasmith is needed in your visualization. This means that all the content you bring into Datasmith/Unreal Engine is a. optimized, and b. going to be a part of your visualization.

Meshmatic specializes in pre-import optimization, meaning your files are cleaned up before importing into Datasmith, and all the data you actually import into Datasmith is needed in the visualization. You can save your optimized data from Meshmatic in a Datasmith-compatible file for easy importing into UE. For users that generally cant import their high-poly CAD files into Unreal Engine, Meshmatic offers a solution where all content that is brought into the engine is cleaned up and compact. Users can start developing their visualization project faster, and with data that is already highly performant for real-time.

Benefits of an automated optimization tool

Meshmatic can be easily incorporated into your pipeline to optimize and ensure everything you import into your game engine is optimized for real-time. Meshamtic can automate repetitive tasks like:

  • Identifying and deleting duplicate assets that slow down visualizations
  • Creating instances of repeated assets like bolts and screws
  • Deleting empty nodes without data loss
  • Removing overlapping vertices and faces without deforming the surface
  • Improving mesh quality after CAD conversion

In conclusion

Currently, users in industries outside of gaming face difficulties when importing high-poly files into Unreal engine. As real-time development and visualization grow in design-led industries (like architecture and engineering), ensuring CAD file formats are optimized and compatible with real-time engines like Unreal will be more important than ever.

Meshmatic helps users that normally face difficulties when importing high-poly files into Unreal. With Meshmatic, you can ensure that all the content you push into Unreal is optimized and ready for design visualization.

Give Meshmatic a try with our 7-day free trial!