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HOOPS Exchange Vs. 3D InterOp by Spatial

By Robert Tadlock • 
July 19th, 2023

The CAD data exchange SDK market is as complex as the tools and implementation themselves. A persistent lack of transparency on capability, pricing, and direct comparisons can leave a developer with a tool that simply does not work for their use case. As strong believers in creating collaborative Strategic Technology Partnerships that benefit everyone involved, this is simply unacceptable.

Two of this space's largest and most capable products are 3D InterOp by Spatial and HOOPS Exchange from Tech Soft 3D. Both are great choices for different development needs and organizational goals. 

With nearly 30 years of experience developing and selling this type of SDK, we share our perspective on the strengths and weaknesses of each offering to give you as clear a picture as possible. We hope to equip you to choose the product that best suits your needs, creating an environment for success for both your organization and the vendor you choose. 

HOOPS Exchange Versus 3D InterOp: The Basics

Crucial Features HOOPS Exchange 3D InterOp by Spatial
Full Read & Write Support STEP, STEP XML, IGES, PRC, STL, U3D, OBJ, gITF, Parasolid, JT, ACIS, FBX, VRML, 3MF 3DXML. ACIS, CATIA V4, CATIA V5, FBX, IFC, IGES, Parasolid, Revit, STEP, STL, VDA-FS, XCGM,
Read Only Support PDF, COLLADA, VDA-FS, IFC, NX, Solid Edge, I-DEAS, SOLIDWORKS, CATIA V4, CATIA V5, CATIA V6, 3Dexperience, Inventor, Revit, DWG, DWF, Navisworks NWD, DXF, 3DS, CREO, Rhino 3MF, Pro/E, Creo, CATIA V6, COLLADA, DXF, DWG, Inventor, JT, MicroStation, NX, OBJ, Solid Edge, SOLIDWORKS
Platform Support Windows, Linux, Mac, Limited Mobile Windows, Limited Mac and Linux Support
Notable Compatibility Specialties Integration with Parasolid, HOOPS Products, CATIA
Technology Openness HOOPS Exchange PRC format is ISO Certified 3D Experience Platform is a closed system
Pricing Transparent, Click here for Pricing breakdown Pricing is only available by request

Who is HOOPS Exchange Right For?

Given the nature of the engineering SDK and CAD data exchange market, different products in the space are better suited to different workflows and use cases. Here, we will discuss what HOOPS Exchange is good at and who it is right for as a result.

HOOPS Exchange is ideally suited for those who are looking for a strong, generalist 3D Data exchange SDK, with a specialty in 3D visualization. This is a toolkit with a focus on engineering applications, with good cross-platform support. You can expect functionality on Mac, Linux, and Windows products with no special libraries needed. It is fast and capable of handling large, complex datasets. 

In general, this is a product well-suited to those who are looking for a comprehensive, powerful, flexible API with support for a large array of file formats and industries. We will discuss in detail some of the areas where Exchange thrives.

HOOPS uses PRC, an ISO standard, as its internal data representation, rather than a propriety, closed format. This provides maximum transparency and flexibility for data representation and storage. As mentioned, HOOPs Exchange supports a host of file formats, with a comprehensive list shown below. Some notable standouts include SOLIDWORKS, Inventor, Revit, Creo, NX, Solid Edge and CATIA.

Users can expect higher import success rates for many format types, especially compared to entry-level CAD translators. Import speed also tends to be higher in most use cases with Exchange than many competitors. Conversion speed in some cases is 8x faster than InterOp, so those working with large or a high volume of files may be better served with HOOPS Exchange.

HOOPS Exchange tends to require significantly less memory for conversions than many CAD translators. This is also true for those who simply don’t enjoy turning their computers into heaters more frequently than needed. 

Files can be minimized using lossless and lossy compression, producing files as much as 100x smaller than the original CAD file. 

HOOPS Exchange is a product that is part of a family of toolkits and is designed to work well with downstream operations, directly supporting many engineering markets and workflow. In the HOOPS family, this includes HOOPS Visualize for desktop, mobile, and other native applications, and HOOPS Communicator for 3D web visualization.

For those in engineering, manufacturing, and design, HOOPS Exchange's strong support for Product Manufacturing Information (PMI) access is essential. Accurate tessellation and markups are a cornerstone of the HOOPS Exchange offering. Users can anticipate strong CAD Data accuracy, with low error rates when compared to competitors.

Crucially, this product has a strong integration with Siemens Parasolid, the leading solid modeling kernel, an SDK also resold by Tech Soft 3D. This comes from a great working relationship between the companies and allows HOOPS Exchange to offer the fastest, most accurate CAD translation for Parasolid users. 

While integrations are important, HOOPS Exchange offers a host of functionality as a standalone toolkit that many competitors do not. Basic CAD Inquiry functions can be done right in HOOPS Exchange, including:

  • Computing the surface area of faces

  • Comparison of geometry

  • Cutting sections

  • Point cloud comparison to surfaces

  • Collision detection

A notable area of specialty for HOOPS Exchange is in the AR/VR market, where the emphasis on 3D visualization stands out. Recently, Unity 3D announced its plans to use HOOPS Exchange for its CAD import needs. Unreal, Nvidia, Epic Games, Adobe, and Oracle are other testimonies to the capability of this product in the XR  market. 

Another clear advantage for HOOPS Exchange over other offerings is native mobile (Android & IOS) support for twelve import formats.  This allows users to import models directly on mobile devices, enabling the next generation of engineering applications on devices other than traditional desktop workstations. A Tech Soft 3D partner, Shapr3D, currently uses Exchange on iOS for the iPad Pro.

Finally, when you license HOOPS Exchange, you aren’t simply given the toolkit and wished the best of luck. Tech Soft 3D is a strong believer in creating Strategic Technology Partnerships. These collaborative relationships are the cornerstone of how Tech Soft 3D does business and will see you supported during the entire development process, when you ship and beyond, through your product lifecycle. 

Who is HOOPS Exchange not right for?

We want to help you find the right product for your development needs, and it's essential to recognize that it is not always HOOPS Exchange. While from our admittedly biased perspective, this is a great product, it is important to note it is not right for everyone. We form collaborative, Strategic Technology Partnerships and this means setting up both you and ourselves for the best chances of success is essential.

If your application is already built on ACIS and you're looking to add data import, InterOp might be the better choice for you: Spatial owns and develops the ACIS modeling kernel and format. While HOOPS has robust support for ACIS, it comes from being reverse-engineered and doesn’t support some features like ACIS assembly modeling. 

The biggest situation where we commonly find ourselves to be a poor fit is with developers with extremely small budgets. While we pride ourselves on our flexibility and ability to work with you for pricing, this is not a discount or budget offering. To learn more about Exchange pricing, check out our guide to our HOOPS SDK pricing below

Who is Spatial InterOp Right For?

In the interest of full transparency, we would like to share use cases and circumstances where 3D InterOp may be the right choice. In this piece, we can share our perspective based on conversations with hundreds of customers over decades of prospective partner discussions.

One of the largest and most direct competitors in the CAD data exchange market, 3D InterOp offers a strong host of supported file types. Similar to HOOPS Exchange, InterOp is a premium offering and has areas of specialization different from that of the Tech Soft 3D SDK. For a better overview of Spatial InterOp, check out their YouTube content.

For users who are working primarily with CATIA file types, 3D InterOp may be the better choice. Their parent company, Dassault Systems, owns the kernel for this format. This enables them to offer better support and release more rapid updates to changes of this format than its competition can reasonably provide.

Specifically, this allows them to have full write support for CATIA. They will likely have higher success rates when importing CATIA and SOLIDWORKS (another Dassault brand) data, though Exchange may still be faster and available on more platforms. Crucially, 3D InterOp supports CATIA on Windows only at the time of writing.

Another benefit is the API’s simplicity. For those with basic import workflows, 3D InterOp may offer some easier development and implementation. Once you get outside basic use cases, this advantage tends to fade, as HOOPS Exchange's inherent capabilities in more advanced settings shine more. 3D InterOp is natively integrated with the ACIS modeling kernel and can easily be used for geometry editing workflows. 3D InterOp also nicely integrates with Dassault’s CGM Polyhedra, a polygonal modeling kernel.

In terms of pricing, 3D InterOp is similar to HOOPS Exchange in positioning itself as a more premium option than other CAD data translation SDKs. For many, 3D InterOp may be cheaper in terms of upfront cost. The parent company does not have on-demand pricing estimates available, and we will talk more about how it compares to HOOPS Exchange in the next section.

Who is Spatial InterOp not right for?

Like HOOPS Exchange, this is not a toolkit made for those with very small budgets. For those looking for the best integrations with Siemens Parasolid, the widest array of development platforms for the web and mobile, or the best support for the entire engineering workflow including PMI, HOOPS Exchange will likely be a better fit. 

Likewise, HOOPS Exchange tends to be significantly faster and less resource intensive. Those with large or high quantities of files will also likely do better with HOOPS. 

Exchange vs. InterOp: Summary and More

A direct comparison of the best CAD Data Exchange tools is essential for the expensive, time-consuming decision you are considering. By highlighting key features, rough cost points, and specialty niches, you are now better prepared to make the best choice for your unique use case.
HOOPS Exchange offers a breadth and depth of file format support at speeds the competition often cannot match, and is priced accordingly. The HOOPS product is resource efficient, incredibly well-supported, and flexible. HOOPS Exchange specializes in 3D visualization and is designed to support the comprehensive development of engineering applications. 

Integrations with the HOOPS Suite of products,  our CEETRON CAE tools, as well as other 3rd party tools (including Polygonica), allow teams to create applications with the entire workflows in mind for a host of industries. To learn more about HOOPS Exchange, check out its product overview here

3D InterOp is a capable alternative to HOOPS Exchange in our experience, offering strong support for a variety of formats. Generally, it is priced similarly to HOOPS Exchange. It is especially suited for those working with file types that fall under the umbrella of their parent company. InterOp is easy to get started with, especially for those with more basic use cases. This is not the fastest, cheapest, or most diverse tool, but it is excellent at what it does. You can find their e-brochure here.

No matter your choice, a CAD Data Exchange SDK is a huge investment of time and money. All of these tools are well-equipped to serve their respective niches. We encourage you to reach out to us and have a chat about your needs to help you best find the right solution for you. 

If you have read this and want more comparisons, you're in luck: we have done a comparison piece with another capable option, CAD Exchanger. This tool is a more budget friendly alternative that exists in a very different space to HOOPS Exchange and 3DInterOp. Follow the link below to check it out.

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