||Contemporary product design problems are inherently complex and involve many highly coupled sub-tasks that require multiple designers and engineers to work together collaboratively. Collaboration is needed for designers and engineers to get required information from others, identify and resolve design conflicts, and generate new ideas and design options. Increasing complexity of engineering design problems have made collaboration an important part of engineering design rather than an auxiliary action. Although collaborative design is ubiquitous in industry, many in the engineering community recognize the fact that both design and collaboration are poorly understood activities in education, research and practice. Because of this poor understanding, collaborative design is still highly experience-based. Though the computer tools used for collaborative design exist, most of them only focus on supporting the industry that manufactures high-end, technology and technique oriented, expensive products. It is difficult to customize the functionality of these tools to suit small to medium-scale industry. Moreover, these tools are normally run on high-powered, dedicated machine (e.g., SGI ONYX) that small to medium-scale industry can hardly afford. Platform dependent of most of the existing tools also prevents collaborative design from becoming popular. As a result, there is a strong demand for a better understanding of the needs of collaborative design, and for an effective technology to support collaborative design practice. The technology should be accessible and beneficial to most of industries rather than a few specialized industries. In response to the above need, this research attempts to generalize and propose key elements of collaborative design which are required by ordinary industries. A Virtual Reality-based Collaborative Environment (VRCE), which is a Java and VRML based virtual reality environment with collaborative visualization, is developed to demonstrate the feasibility of the proposed research. VRCE emphasizes the use of multiple perspectives. These perspectives include multiple visual viewpoints, multiple information layers, multiple opinions, multiple designs as well as collaborating over time and security support. These allow virtual reality to be applied in the earlier, more creative, phases of the design process, rather than just as a walkthrough of the final design.