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I'm looking at creating a site where a user could see our product and configure the options or look of it and see an image that represents that.

The way I'm doing it now is if you have Piece A selected and then you choose Texture X, I have an image on the filesystem that is A with X applied to it. I just swap out my default image with that specific one. One product has 8 areas, with 10-70 pieces per area, and about 200 textures for each piece. Programming the site was pretty simple but we are getting bogged down in rendering all these pieces/textures and entering them into the system.

What I would love to do is build a model and have some way to apply the textures via API and render it to the browser. I would even settle for exporting a flat image and pulling that into the browser.

Is that possible with something like SolidWorks, 3DSMax, or something else? If the rendering is too time intensive it would still help to batch create all my images and use them the way I am currently.

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I can't speak for SolidWorks or 3DSMax, but I know Blender has a Python scripting API, you might be able to write a script to create a texture based on an image, render, save, create a texture with a new image, render, save, repeat... – FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Feb 9 '12 at 17:52
I'm finding some promising articles for a VBA API for SolidWorks.… It should be pretty easy to modify this to accept the drawing and textures from the command line and export as an image. – AndyMcKenna Feb 9 '12 at 19:31

A number of 3d frameworks in Flash - Away3d especially - have some pretty robust APIs for loading models exported from high-end 3d programs as well as for applying Bitmap based textures to these models.

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