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3D Asset Management:
A Guide to Digital Asset Management for 3D Models (3D DAM)

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Last Updated: May 9, 2024

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For an efficient workflow, effective digital asset management of your digital assets is key. In the growing space of 3D design, 3D modeling, and 3D app development, the need for such organization is more important than ever.

Whether you’re an indie game developer or a member of a large team of artists, marketeers, engineers, product people or other business professionals, you will need to handle a large library of 3D objects. In particular, 3D asset management is becoming more and more relevant in construction, manufacturing, architectural services, eCommerce, training, gaming, marketing, and industrial use cases. Effective digital asset management (DAM) for 3D models makes such workflow seamless sand efficient and ensures that your assets remain accessible and impeccably organized.

But for big projects, 3D asset management is a daunting task. Files come in all different sizes, formats, and other unique attributes. Some only work in certain environments, while others can only be viewed by certain devices. Therefore, collaborating with numerous creative minds as part of a large team which uses various software, presets unique challenges. But with the right tools and best practices, organizations can overcome these challenges and forge a path to a workflow that’s not just efficient but also gratifying.

© echo3D, Inc.

3D digital asset management (or 3D DAM) is the process of organizing, storing, and maintaining a library of 3D assets such as models, textures, animations, and other digital content used, among other things, in 3D applications, spatial computing games, and virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) experiences. It involves creating a database that enables easy and efficient access to these assets, as well as tracking changes, versions, and usage history, which stream line the workflow related to creating, editing, and using 3D assets.

3D assets are a type of content that is stored digitally. Just like videos, music, photos, documents, and other digital media, 3D content is typically stored in a centralized system so it can be accessed, managed, published, shared, and distributed, within an organization and outside of it. Such business technology systems are known as digital asset management systems or DAM systems, for short, and are used by many enterprise companies.

© echo3D, Inc.

3D files are unique as they comprise of multiple attributes for (and even separate files for) skeleton, materials, textures, colors, etc. They are also typically very large and require compression and conversation before they can be displayed on certain devices. Not all asset management systems out there are built to handle the complexity of 3D assets. A 3D-first digital asset management solution allows you to manage such content and distribute it across multiple channels and devices.

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Here are some of the common hurdles faced when managing 3D models:

  • Different File Formats: 3D models come in a myriad of formats, including OBJ, STL, FBX, GLB, GLTF, USD, USDA, USDC, USDZ, PLY, DAE, CAD, and more, making it a challenge to maintain uniformity and cross-platform compatibility.
  • Large File Sizes: High-quality 3D models often occupy a hefty chunk of storage, complicating storing, file sharing, and fast loading and streaming. Accordingly, 3D file sharing is much more compilated than sharing 2D files (pics, videos, etc.).
  • Metadata Management: Tagging 3D assets with relevant metadata and in the right categories is critical for efficient search and filtering, but such management is susceptible to human error and takes much time.
  • Access Control: Defining roles and permissions for your team and ensuring that only authorized personnel can access or modify specific assets is critical for protecting sensitive content and preserving brand integrity.
  • Version Control: Keeping tabs on the different iterations of a 3D model, ensuring the latest version is always accessible, is no easy task, especially when collaborating with different members of a multi-talented team.
  • Search and Retrieval: Easily finding the right 3D model in a large library of assets with numerous folders and sub-folders can be tricky.
  • Software Integration: Achieving seamless harmony between you asset management practices and the different game engines, 3D modeling software, software platforms, and devices can be intricate, often requiring custom development of plugins and other solutions.
  • Team Collaboration: Teamwork, sharing assets, and offering feedback can pose a challenge when dealing with 3D models, particularly in remote work settings.
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A digital asset management platform for 3D models offers a lifeline amidst these different challenges. It provides an organized and efficient storage system for enterprises or other large employers. Utilizing a 3D DAM platform, you can create a consistent folder structure and standardized naming conventions, which simplify asset location and accessibility. Additionally, these tools empower you to edit your 3D models and enrich them with metadata and tags, further expediting search and filtering processes. The right DAM platform will also allow teams to add metadata and tags to their assets, making content discoverability easier.

With cloud-based storage, your assets are securely backed up and accessible from anywhere, guaranteeing seamless collaboration within your team. This improved collaboration also reduces redundancy and prevents the need for recreating content. Organizations can achieve substantial cost savings by repurposing existing assets and avoiding unnecessary expenditures on content recreation. The right 3D DAM should use reputable cloud services and cloud networking to offer reliable content delivery and cloud storage for 3D files.

In short, organizations require such content management systems (3D CMS) to store, manage, and edit all their content in one simple interface, organized into projects. They require ways to search for, upload, and retrieve 3D assets and share them within their team. A 3D DAM allows teams to manage their 3D asset library across their organization and deliver 3D content that can be updated in real-time through the cloud from our central repository.

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Efficient version control and seamless collaboration take center stage when managing 3D models, especially within a team. DAM tools step in to manage different versions of your 3D assets, ensuring that all team members have access to the latest and most accurate files. These tools often offer collaborative features such as leaving comments, annotations, and markups on assets, enabling effective communication among team members. Such features allow for real-time updates, turning teamwork into an harmonious endeavor.

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Access permissions and access controls are also crucial to allow teams to manage how users and viewers gain access on a 3D collection of assets. Setting different access level to an asset can allow a user or viewer to edit, update, delete or download the asset, while setting collection-level permissions can grant granular control over edits to your team’s project.

The ability to preview and render 3D assets is indispensable. Many DAM tools come equipped with built-in previewing features, allowing you to visualize your 3D models without the need to open them in their native software (somethings called 3D preview or 3D viewer tools). This not only saves time but also aids in early detection of potential issues or inconsistencies in the design process. Some DAM solutions go a step further, offering features that enable the simultaneous generation of multiple variations for various assets, further streamlining your creative journey. Some go even further and offer a tool to create custom webAR experiences and can be shared and viewed online.

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The transformation and optimization of 3D models is crucial to ensure your assets are useful in different scenarios and accessible to different 3D experiences, all while ensuring fast loading and peak performance. 3D asset optimization which includes format conversion, resizing, and compression also plays a key role in cross-platform compatibility and cross-device compatibility. A digital asset management solution that includes these capabilities can expedite your workflow, saving invaluable time, money, and resources. Take, for instance, echo3D, which boasts an extensive suite of 3D compression and conversion tools (including a 3D file converter to different file formats and a 3D file compression tool), aimed at effortlessly transforming and optimizing your 3D models for any and all use cases. With these automated features and real-time adjustments, echo3D excels in performing these functions (10x over Draco), allowing you to maintain both quality and performance.

© echo3D, Inc.

Another important aspect of any effective digital asset management software for 3D models is seamless integration with your preferred game engines, 3D modeling software, 3D rendering software, software platforms, and devices. These include Unity, Unreal Engine, ARcore, ARkit, Nvidia Omniverse, Flutter, Niantic Lightship, Snapdragon Spaces, 8th Wall, Blender, SketchUp, and more. Opting for DAM solutions that offer native plugins or compatibility with popular software streamlines your workflow and ensures a seamless transition between asset creation and management. These integrations empower you to access, edit, optimize, import, export, and stream your 3D models from and to your chosen software, saving time and efforts and minimizing errors.

© echo3D, Inc.

Access to insightful analytics and reporting can be your compass, guiding you towards optimized workflows and data-driven business decisions. DAM solutions often come equipped with built-in analytics and reporting features, tracking metrics like asset usage and viewership, user activity, and bandwidth and storage use. By analyzing this data, you can identify user trends and preferences, flag opportunities for improvements, and allocate resources in a more efficient manner.

© echo3D, Inc.

Digital asset management is the keystone for the growth of the 3D space and the proliferation of 3D/AR/VR, Metaverse and spatial computing content. companies require, now more than ever, efficient solutions to organizing, storing, managing, and sharing their digital assets. A robust 3D asset management platform enhanced collaboration and streamlines workflow by automating 3D transformation and optimization as well as analytics and reporting. By embracing a comprehensive DAM solution crafted to handle the unique characteristics 3D models, you empower your team to unleash their creative potential.

Ensure that you can store and share 3D assets across your organization while allowing your team to collaborate, have efficient workflows, discover content, and minimize duplicates. Whatever enterprise software for 3D asset management you choose, make sure it includes asset hierarchies, polygon counts, 3D version control, and duplicate detection.

We believe that 3D digital asset management should be simple, and so we built echo3D — a 3D Digital Asset Management (3D DAM) platform that helps businesses maximize the value of their 3D content.

© echo3D, Inc.

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