What is a 3D Digital Asset Management System (DAM) and what makes it different from a regular DAM?

Digital Asset Management systems (DAM) are software platforms used to easily organize, manage, share, collaborate and publish digital content. Traditionally, they were built for 2D images, videos, and audio files. But now that spatial computing is upon us, 3D assets such as FBX, OBJ, USD, GLB/glTF and native design files from programs like Autodesk Maya, 3DSMax, AutoCad, Revit, Solidworks and others need a similar digital repository so it’s easy to search and collaborate in 3D. 3D models and digital twins, however, require additional features to view, manage and publish particularly at scale.

Key features and functionalities of a traditional DAM system include:

  1. Asset Organization: DAM systems allow users to categorize assets using metadata, keywords, tags, and custom attributes. This helps in classifying and indexing assets for easy retrieval.
  2. Search and Retrieval: Users can search for specific assets using search filters, keywords, or other criteria. This makes it convenient to locate assets quickly, even in large collections.
  3. Version Control: DAM systems often include versioning capabilities, which allow users to track changes made to an asset over time. This is particularly useful for collaborative work and maintaining a history of asset modifications.
  4. Permissions and Access Control: DAM systems enable administrators to set access permissions for users or user groups, ensuring that only authorized individuals can view, edit, or download certain assets.
  5. Collaboration: DAM systems facilitate collaboration by allowing users to comment, annotate, and provide feedback on assets. Some systems also offer approval workflows for ensuring proper review before assets are published or shared.
  6. Distribution and Sharing: Users can share assets with internal teams, clients, or external partners using secure links or downloadable files. Some systems provide options for embedding assets on websites or exporting them in various formats.
  7. Integration: DAM systems often integrate with other tools and software used in an organization’s workflow, such as content management systems, creative software, marketing platforms, and more.
  8. Asset Lifecycle Management: A DAM system can help manage the entire lifecycle of an asset, from creation and editing to archiving and deletion.
  9. Metadata Management: Metadata plays a crucial role in describing assets and making them easily searchable. DAM systems allow users to define and manage metadata associated with each asset.
  10. Scalability: DAM systems are designed to handle large volumes of digital assets and accommodate the growing needs of an organization as its asset library expands.
  11. Cloud-Based Options: Many DAM systems are cloud-based, offering the advantage of remote access, easy sharing, and reduced dependency on local infrastructure.

All of the above are required for 3D digital asset management systems, but a few additional features are needed:

Automatic Processing:

If you have a 3D model, you can create an infinite amount of content; 3D interactive experiences, AR, VR, 2D renders, and video renders. This can save your organization thousands of dollars and increase speed to market by creating content from design files before samples are made. But to do this, you need a variety of software:

Optimization: Many platforms today accept 3D, however they all have various requirements on overall file size, polygon count and texture size. This would normally take a few hours of a 3D artist time, which to optimize and convert 3D assets to meet the specifications. This is fine if you are only talking about a few 3D models or a few platforms, but when you try to scale the labor costs quickly make this unattainable. Automated 3D optimization is required, but there is not a one size fits all solution. There are hundreds of 3D programs which all have different export options with a variety of tessellated geometry, UV layouts and materials or lack thereof. You might require a variety of optimization software depending on the different programs you build in below are some of the top optimization platforms depending on your needs:

Decimation: reducing the total number of polygons in a 3D model ideally without changing the look of the file.

Texture baking: this is a technique where small geometry is mimicked by textures so you can remove more polygons without changing the look of the 3D model.

Retopology: creating a clean, quad-based mesh typically required for 3D animation.

Preserve Meshes & UVs: you might want to optimize a 3D model and later bring it into a program to recolor it or animate and exploded view. In these cases, you want to preserve the individual meshes and UVs.


Rendering is the process of creating 2D images and/or 2D videos from 3D models. This can help increase your speed to market and provide flexibility to easily make edits as products change in the future versus having to plan multiple in person photoshoots with product or equipment that can be difficult and expensive to use. Unfortunately, rendering on your desktop takes up the compute on your computer which can leave you with limited ability to continue working on other projects. This is why cloud rendering is essential for companies creating scalable content creation pipelines. There are many different programs used to render images and you might not want to be stuck with one options, which is why having a flexible cloud to easily plug in any rendering tool future proofs your setup.

VNTANA’s ModelOps™ 3D Task Handler is an efficient tool that enables you to quickly add custom 3D pipeline processing. It functions as an umbrella for various scripts and provides an interface that makes it easy for users to select and perform a variety of tasks on a 3D model. It provides all necessary tools to access its functions, making it a versatile addition to your 3D asset management toolkit.

3D Viewer:

A 3D web viewer is a software tool or application required to view a 3D model directly within a browser. These viewers are commonly used in various industries, including architecture, engineering, manufacturing, gaming, e-commerce, and more. Here are some elements to consider when evaluating 3D web viewers:

  1. Compatibility: Ensure that the 3D web viewer supports the file formats commonly used in your industry. Common formats include OBJ, STL, FBX, GLB, USDZ and more. Compatibility with popular 3D modeling software such as Blender, Maya, or AutoCAD can also be crucial.
  2. Browser Support: Check if the viewer is compatible with major web browsers like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Safari. It should work smoothly across different browsers and platforms (Windows, macOS, Linux).
  3. Performance: Evaluate the viewer’s performance when handling complex 3D models. It should load models quickly and allow smooth navigation and manipulation, even with large or highly detailed models.
  4. Interactivity: Look for features that enable user interaction with the 3D models. This may include zooming, panning, rotating, and scaling. The ability to add annotations, measurements, or hotspots to the model can be valuable for collaboration and presentations.
  5. Security: Consider the security features of the viewer, especially if you are sharing sensitive or proprietary 3D models. Features like password protection, encryption, and access control can be essential.
  6. Customization: Depending on your needs, the ability to customize the appearance and behavior of the 3D web viewer can be important. Look for options to integrate your branding, customize the user interface, or extend functionality through APIs or plugins.
  7. Collaboration: If you require collaborative features, check if the viewer allows multiple users to view and interact with the same 3D model simultaneously. Real-time collaboration, comments, and version control can enhance teamwork.
  8. Cross-Platform Compatibility: Ensure that the viewer works on a variety of devices, including desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobile phones. It should offer responsive design for different screen sizes.
  9. Integration: Consider how easily the 3D web viewer can be integrated into your existing workflows and systems. Compatibility with content management systems (CMS), e-commerce platforms, or other software tools you use is beneficial.

By considering these elements, you can make an informed decision when selecting a 3D web viewer that best suits your specific needs and requirements.


Plugins make it easier to export 3D models from design programs to a DAM in bulk without having to leave the design program. This simplifies the work for designs who work in programs like 3DSMax, Solidworks, Sketch-up, Maya, and others who don’t want to have to bother with choosing the ideal export settings each time or closing their program.

Plugins can also help designers import 3D models into game-engines and other simulation tools. Not only does it simply the designer or engineer’s work by letting them pull in 3D models directly from within the game-engine or other platform, but plugins can also convert or alter 3D models to meet the end use case specification. VTNANA’s Unreal Plugin for example, automatically corrects normal issues which can occur with shiny objects like automobiles built in 3DSMax.

In the realm of 3D model Digital Asset Management Systems (DAMs), it’s crucial to understand their unique capabilities compared to traditional DAMs. While traditional DAMs excel at handling 2D content, the advent of spatial computing has ushered in a need for managing 3D assets effectively. Traditional DAMs offer key functionalities like asset organization, search and retrieval, version control, permissions, collaboration, and integration. However, 3D DAMs demand additional features for optimal management. These include automatic processing, covering tasks such as optimization, rendering, and preservation of meshes and UVs, which are vital for generating diverse 3D content efficiently. Additionally, 3D web viewers play a pivotal role in seamless 3D model visualization, requiring compatibility, performance, interactivity, and security. Moreover, plugins are indispensable for simplifying bulk exports from design programs to DAMs, streamlining workflows, and facilitating imports into game engines, offering a bridge between design and implementation. Understanding these nuances is essential for organizations considering a shift towards 3D and AR implementation in their DAM strategies.