3DConnexion swaps hands with its new CADMouse

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3Dconnexion has something new up its sleeve for those that are rocking the 3D CAD on a daily basis..

Those of us long enough in the tooth will remember the days of the three button mouse – and without a scroll wheel. Whether you were running Pro/Engineer (hitting the middle mouse button for days on end will bring back memories for some), CADDS or Alias – whether you were running the software on an UltraSparc or an SGI Octane, the three button mouse ruled them all.

My own personal fondness was the slightly cranky Sun Microsystems infrared mouse which had to have its own special mouse mat and I think I’ve still got a serial SGI, metallic grey mouse that ruled them all.

Somewhere along the line, the rise of the PC, the scroll wheel became ubiquitous. Easier scrolling of pages or spreadsheets in Excel, easier zooming in and out of a document or a CAD model.

A cursory google indicates that the Genius Scroll Mouse was the first in 1995, but I suspect that the rise of the Microsoft Intellimouse was the bit hitter. But with that addition, the middle mouse button was hidden away under the wheel.


Yet, when you consider the use of a mouse in the 3D design world, the middle mouse button is often more than just something under the scroll wheel. It’ll give access to model pan or rotation (depending on your system and preferences), it’ll give you quick short cut menus in other systems.

All the while, you’re fiddling around with a button that’s under a wheel.

This is the thinking behind 3Dconnexion’s latest product announcement: A three button mouse that gives you the third button back, seperately from the scroll wheel.

Of course, with their experience on the other hand with their SpaceMouse product range, the company also has a bunch of bells and whistles in terms of customisation.

There’s a QuickZoom, activated by the thumb button and controlled by the software, it’ll give you a quick access zoom. There’s also a gesture and radial menu button which gives you access to a context sensitive menu.

If you’re into specs, it’ll track at 8200dpi and a poll rate of up to 1000Hz (responsiveness of 1 millisecond). It’s also interesting to note that the device is wired.

An odd choice considering that the company is investing in moving its devices from wired to wireless.

The reason given is that larger customers are adverse to wireless devices (for security reasons), but I’ve a suspicion that the cost of bringing this to market, to test the waters, is much cheaper with a braided cord than a small radio transmitter.

Can 3Dconnexion’s new CADmouse take on the mighty Logitech Performance MX?

So will this become the ultimate CAD mouse? Who knows. A quick, informal Twitter poll showed that the vast majority of folks are running with Logitech’s MX mice in some form or another.

Considering 3Dconnexion’s pedigree and back history (once being part of the same company), it’s no surprise that the CADMouse looks similar.

After all, if folks are used to that shape, it’ll make using it more comfortable, more easily. Also, I wonder if 3DConnexion’s design team’s use of Pro/Engineer or Creo has made this a more obvious issue for them than many others.

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