Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Viewing Technologies for CAD Models



Michelle P. Steves, Simon P. Frechette


This report describes Computer-Aided Design (CAD) model-viewing technologies1 used to support CAD-model review and analysis. CAD model viewers are tools that allow engineers and other users to view CAD models from distributed locations, often using lightweight viewing applications, often supporting multiple CAD formats. These tools are typically less expensive, faster, and simpler to use than native CAD systems for model review. These features are especially important for small and medium-sized enterprises that can not typically support multiple native CAD systems. Additionally, considerations when choosing a viewing technology are described, as well as, popular CAD-model file formats that viewing technologies can import.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) - 6966
Report Number


CAD, CAD-model, Computer-Aided Design, lightweight viewing applications, manufacturing, technology


Steves, M. and Frechette, S. (2003), Viewing Technologies for CAD Models, NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online],, (Accessed May 17, 2024)


If you have any questions about this publication or are having problems accessing it, please contact

Created July 31, 2003, Updated October 12, 2021