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VisualTool Overview   

VisualTools are used to decorate the model space with props, scenery, text, and presentation slides in order to give the model a more realistic appearance. They can be something as simple as a colored box, background, or something as elaborate as an imported 3D graphic model or presentation slide. Another use of the VisualTool is as a container for other objects in your model. When used as a container, the VisualTool becomes a handy tool for hierarchically organizing your model. The container can also be saved in a User Library acting as a basic building block in the development of future models.


Since the VisualTool works differently than other FlexSim objects, a detailed description of how it is used will now be explained. There are many ways you can use the VisualTool object in your model.

Using the VisualTool as a Container

The default setting for the VisualTool is a plane. When placed in the model the VisualTool will display a gray plane. The size and location of the plane can be set graphically in the Orthographic view window, or by using the VisualTool's Display tab (the use of the Display tab is explained in the section Using the Visualtool as a Plane, Cube, Column, or Sphere). When using the VisualTool as a container it is recommended that you use the default view (a Plane) setting when you start. You can change the visual representation at a future time. For this example we will build a container that has 1 queue, and 2 processors. Flowitems will be passed into the container from a Source that is located outside. The processors will send flowitems to a sink located outside the container.

Statistics on the container can be viewed through the Statistics tab in the VisualTool's properties dialog.

Using the VisualTool as a Plane, Cube, Column, or Sphere

To use the VisualTool as a visual prop in you model is a simple process. On the "Display" tab, choose the type of prop you would like and define the properties.


A Plane can be defined as a background such as an Autocad layout, a texture or picture, or a patch of color for a specific section of your model. The Plane is the default view for the visual tool. You simply set the size of the Plane and then choose the Texture. The Texture can be repeated in both the vertical or horizontal direction.

Cube, Column, or Sphere

The cube, column, or spheres are simple shapes that can be assigned a texture much like the plane.

Using the VisualTool as an Imported Shape

When using the VisualTool for an imported shape you need to have a 3D model or object that you wish to bring into the model. FlexSim supports a variety of 3D shape formats such as 3D Studio Max (.3ds), Google SketchUp (.skp), VRML 1.0 (.wrl), AutoCAD DXF (.dxf), and Stereo Lithography (.stl).

Using the VisualTool as Visual Text

3D visual text can be added to you model to display labels, statistics, or other information in your model. When the visual display is set to "Text" you are presented with a picklist of options for setting the text.

Pick options include simulation time, content, state, outputs, inputs, and many others. If any statistics are selected in the picklist the user must connect the VisualTool center port to the object that you want to display the information about. The text can be edited by selecting the code template button .

Using the VisualTool as a Presentation Slide

The VisualTool may also be used as a presentation slide much like you would use a slide to develop PowerPoint presentations. Presentation slides are placed in your model to present data, model findings, and presentation points. You can develop a "FlyTo" sequence to view the slides by using the Presentation Builder found in the menu option Tools > Presentation > Presentation Builder.

When the visual display is set to "Presentation Slide" additional options will appear on the Display tab.

Press the Add button to add a new line of text to the slide. The first line of text is labeled "Text 1" and is the slide header. Additional text is added to the slide as line items. For example, if you were to add four text items to the presentation slide you would see the following:

Each text is given the default location on the slide as shown. By selecting the desired text in the drop down box, you can also change the text that is displayed using the Text Display list, the size of the text and the text color.

You can apply any background by selecting a texture on the Display tab or change the background color by selecting the color on the General tab.

Properties pages

Container Functionality

flexsim users manual
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paul.t contributed to this article


FlexSim 2016.1