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What is a 3D mouse and how is it used

Editorial Team Editorial Team Aug 24, 2023

Table of contents:

  1. What is a 3D mouse?
  2. What are 3D mice used for?
  3. Top-5 3D mice on the market

If you don't know what a 3D mouse is and how it functions, we've got the perfect guide for you.

A 3D mouse makes it easier to work in a virtual environment. In this article, we'll look into what a 3D mouse is and how they function. We'll also explore their advantages and highlight the top 5 best options on the market now.

What is a 3D mouse?

SpaceMouse Compact

Think of a 3D mouse as a pointing and control device that's similar to your traditional mouse. The only difference is that it's designed specifically for movement in a 3D virtual space. With this mouse, you can access different control models like IR sensors, multi-axis sensors, and accelerometers when operating in a 3D environment.

Industrial sectors like CAD, 3D design, architecture, and 3D modeling heavily use 3DConnexion devices. This is because professionals in these sectors need human interface devices to manipulate and navigate computer-generated 3D imagery. Furthermore, this mouse has a rotating cylinder on its base, which the user can raise, lower, or rotate.

Used together with a traditional mouse, 3D professionals get to experience the project as if they were working in a real environment. Consequently, they're also able to use this two-handed approach to produce excellent models.

What are 3D CAD mice used for?

3D mice are the preferred tools for designers in many industries because they greatly improve user comfort and productivity. 3D mice for CAD are preferred because traditional keyboards and mice can’t interact with virtual 3D models at the same efficiency.
CAD controllers allow the operator to manipulate multiple aspects of a 3D model that classic controls just can’t replicate (like rotating, increasing and decreasing scale, translating, etc).

What are 3D mice used for? Well, designers and developers can utilize something called the “two-handed” approach when adding a 3D mouse to their workflow. The two-handed approach is a literal term, as it allows the user to operate a 3D mouse in one hand, and a traditional mouse in the other. Utilizing a two-handed method has two very important benefits:

  1. It greatly improves productivity and efficacy
  2. It reduces the onset of RSI symptoms otherwise brought on by long-term modeling sessions

There is a minor learning curve for users who are new to using a 3D CAD mouse, but within a few moments, the individual should feel comfortable controlling it.

After the operator customizes and configures their button-mapping preferences, and grows familiar with the way a 3D mouse moves, the benefits of the device will soon be clear. 3D mice also help to alleviate muscle strain, thus allowing designers and developers to focus wholly and freely on creativity.

Top-5 3D mice on the market

One solid product you can use for intuitive 3D imagination is the SpaceMouse Compact wired or wireless mouse. With this product, you can easily twist, tilt to pan, push, pull, zoom, and rotate your 3D models.

Another product to consider is the SpaceMouse Enterprise 3D mouse. Besides its ability to perform full 3D manipulation, you can also access high-tech features like color LCDs for key assignment, keyboard modifiers, quick-view keys, a full-size, soft-coated hand rest, and 12 intelligent function keys.

If you need a 3D mouse with the highest performance level, you shouldn't look further than the SpaceMouse Enterprise 3D mouse.

So, here is a short list of top-5 best-selling 3D mice on the market:

1. 3Dconnexion SpaceMouse Enterprise 3DX-700056

Money can buy the most advanced 3D navigation tool with a 6-Degrees-of-Freedom sensor, a full set of keyboard modifiers, 31 programmable buttons, and 12 function keys on a touchscreen for direct access to your favorite 12 commands from the active application.

3Dconnexion SpaceMouse Enterprise 3DX SpaceMouse Enterprise 3DX-700056 Full overview

2. 3Dconnexion SpaceMouse Pro Wireless 3DX-700075

Slightly less pimped out yet much more portable 3D mouse with 3Dconnexion’s signature 6-Degrees-of-Freedom sensor, full set of keyboard modifiers, Esc, Shift, Ctrl, and Alt keyboard modifiers, 15 programmable buttons, and 4 function keys for direct access to the most used commands from the active application.

3Dconnexion SpaceMouse Pro Wireless

Learn more about SpaceMouse Pro.

3. 3Dconnexion SpaceMouse Wireless 3DX-700066

The most compact and minimalist 3D controller with a 6-Degrees-of-Freedom sensor and 2 buttons. Each button opens a separate radial menu, providing direct access to max. 8 of your favorite commands from the active application.

3Dconnexion SpaceMouse Wireless

Learn about SpaceMouse Wireless 3DX-700066.

4. 3DConnexion SpaceExplorer 3D Navigation Device 3DX-700026

This is a legacy version of SpaceMouse Pro. Still available and more affordable. Features six degrees of freedom controller cap, and 15 pre-configured keys.

3DConnexion SpaceExplorer 3D Navigation Device 3DX

5. 3Dconnexion Spacemouse Compact 3DX-700059

The most cost-effective option. Simple, elegant, and sporting all 3DX-700066’s functions, except for wirelessness (obviously).

3Dconnexion Spacemouse Compact 3DX

Learn more about Spacemouse Compact.

When choosing a 3d cad mouse for professional use, don't let marketers distract you with their tricks. Nine times out of ten, “3D” in the name or description is nothing but a market-speak. And all those futuristic-looking trackball gadgets are, at their core. just upside-down ball mice. Looks like there's no viable alternative to 3Dconnexion’s products, so far.

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