Why You Need a 3D Mouse


So you’ve cracked open Siemens NX (or your favourite CAD/CAM Program) a few times and you’re familiarizing yourself with the user interface and terminology. Having Command Finder in your corner is a big help and will definitely rescue you when you’re lost. The next biggest help for a Siemens NX or CAD software user is a 3D mouse, or space mouse, as they’re called. Here’s why it makes all the difference:

1 – Boosts productivity

A 3D mouse makes a world of difference and is essential to your enjoyment and full implementation of the software. Using a 2D mouse in a 3D environment is frustrating at best and counterproductive at worst. While a 2D mouse may suffice for navigating Microsoft Word or Excel and web browsing, it just makes sense to use a device purpose-built for 3D environments. A 3D mouse enables faster and more precise manipulations, speeding up just about any workflow. And yes, it’s compatible with both Windows and Macs.


2 – Reduces Pain

Using 3D motion controllers is better for you than the traditional one-handed mouse working style. According to a recent research report and white paper by VSI Risk Management and Ergonomics:

  • 46% of designers and animators only using a traditional mouse reported discomfort levels which interfered with their job performance.
  • Using a 3D mouse reduced pain in 97% of people surveyed, starting from the first month.

Why risk your productivity? Read the report and see for yourself.



3 – It’s Intuitive

This may seem corny, but just like the video below shows, using a 3D mouse actually feels like you’re touching the 3D object you’re working on.


Manipulation is intuitive, precise, and not to mention much quicker. To make sure you get the hang of things, the bundled software includes a straightforward training module and activities to hone your skills. While they may be useful for some users, I had no problems using it right out of the box to manipulate CAD objects in Siemens NX software.

You can zoom, pan, tilt, spin, and roll intuitively any part or assembly to your heart’s content. A 3D Mouse gives you six degrees of freedom to control your CAD models, as shown below:


I personally use the SpaceNavigator from 3DConnexion (now available in our online store) and have loved it from the start. We carry the full 3DConnexion 3D Mouse line, from portable models like the SpaceMouse Wireless, to the feature-packed SpacePilot Pro, featuring an LCD screen and function keys.

4 – Completely Customizable for Any Use


The best part is your 3D navigating experience can be completely customized. The sensitivity of the controller can be adjusted globally or each degree of freedom can be fine tuned to create an ideal user experience. The 3D Mouse’s buttons can also be mapped to different actions, like fitting the model to the screen in its current orientation, snapping to a preferred view or even launching different applications. All the options can be tweaked on-the-fly by clicking on the 3dConnexions driver from the system tray (PIC). High end models are equipped with several dual-function Intelligent Function Keys and even a full colour LCD displaying function key commands, emails, tasks, calendar entries or RSS Feeds.

5 – Other Apps = Limitless Possibilities

Your 3D mouse can improve your workflow in a staggering array of applications such as Siemens NX, Google Earth, Autodesk, Second Life, Solid Edge, Blender, NASA World Wind, Google SketchUp, Maya, SolidWorks, Adobe Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, to name a few. They really have the bases covered.

Bonus: Wireless!

3DConnexion just unveiled their first Wireless 3D mouse complete with an impressive rechargeable battery that lasts up to a month (assuming 8 hours of use 5 days per week). This great productivity tool just got better! So what are you waiting for? Go get one!


What do you think of 3D mice?

Have you ever used one in the past?

How do you configure yours for maximum productivity?