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Technical illustrations: fill the gap between 3D CAD and product documents

reusing engineering data to produce technical documents has significantly improved the manufacturer's production efficiency. Understand what companies need to consider if they want to restructure their processes and directly add 3dcad based illustrations to their customer documents

in almost every article discussing technical illustrations, you can see an old proverb: a picture is worth a thousand words. Indeed, the value of illustrations in technical documents is not high no matter how estimated. However, for companies that need to create technical manuals for their products, the creation of technical illustrations has so far often been related to making a series of seemingly daunting business decisions

yes, technical illustrations have become very important, but around the process of adding 3D illustrations to the technical manual, company managers still have to solve a lot of problems, including: how many illustrations are needed in the manual? Is creating illustrations a process that takes a lot of time and money? Is it really possible to replace process instructions with illustrations? Can this method be used to save translation costs? What tools are needed? Therefore, the tensile machine for testing high molecular polymers is different from the usual tensile machine for testing the tensile properties of materials to create graphics

this article clearly explains the most important questions currently asked by professionals about the process of creating illustrations, and introduces a very effective method at present

why use technical illustrations

technical illustrations provide many stylistic features and representations, which can illustrate many contextual contents in a graphical way, making it easier for viewers to understand these contents. By focusing only on the main elements of the graphics, viewers can focus on the most important features for understanding the connector technology research and development work actively carried out by the connector company and the electrical laboratory for AA (8000) series aluminum alloy conductors. This ensures that customers can quickly and accurately assemble a piece of equipment after reading the assembly instructions, or customer service personnel can easily identify and order the correct parts after checking the replacement parts catalogue. There is no doubt that illustrations make the document more user-friendly, thus improving the end-user satisfaction with the product

3D CAD model created in PTC pro/engineer software

this clear document is particularly important for companies manufacturing export goods. Many of these companies have to translate their documents into 10 or more languages, resulting in a cost that cannot be underestimated. As translation errors are inevitable, the more words, the higher the risk of errors and related costs

in view of this, we recommend a balanced combination of text and illustrations. In some cases (for example, the assembly instructions are very short), it is now entirely possible to use only illustrations. An agricultural machinery company recently reported that all assembly instructions of its seeding equipment were being converted to full illustration instructions, which could reduce the translation cost by 90%. Only safety information should still be translated into all relevant languages. Companies around the world are increasingly considering this approach because of the sharp increase in translation costs over the past few years

the above illustrations are based on 3D CAD models and are finally processed in arbortext isdraw.

it contains some stylistic features common in technical illustrations (such as magnifying glass)

illustrations as a cost factor

many document production professionals may ask: to reduce the cost of translation, increase the number of illustrations, Is it just equivalent to replacing another such process with an expensive one? This is not the case. The reasons are as follows

if you want to draw an illustration from scratch, this process will take some time, depending on the complexity of the illustration. Here, we are not talking about making two or three new illustrations a week, but much more. When a manufacturer introduces a machine that may contain 2000 or more parts, this means that illustrators have to draw illustrations for them one by one, not to mention many modifications to existing illustrations. It is not surprising, then, that the launch of new products is often delayed because documents are not prepared on time. Reusing 3D CAD data to produce technical documents provides solutions to these problems, which will be discussed in more detail in the following paragraphs

solution: 3D CAD data

many companies now use 3D data from various design systems (such as pro/engineer, CATIA, Unigraphics, Solidworks, etc.) and can be used to produce illustrations. In the process of creating illustrations, the use of these data is sure to achieve the greatest savings potential. However, in fact, it is difficult to use 3D data in the best way, because it takes a lot of energy from the design department

nowadays, document production departments rarely have direct access to CAD systems. Therefore, the staff of the design department should be responsible for preparing the data, that is, finding the required components or components, rotating them to the required position, disassembling them, deleting hidden lines, and so on. This requires a lot of coordination between the design and documentation departments. In the final analysis, the information that illustrations will convey has a very clear purpose. This information should first be passed on to colleagues in the design department (usually in the form of draft). This collaboration usually leads to extra work: if the illustrator needs to be in different positions or the same part in the exploded view again, the designer must restart the whole process

it should also be noted that converting 3D data into 2D illustrations is only the first step. After that, the illustrations should be modified according to the requirements of the document (line width, color, deletion of details, preparation for electronic delivery, etc.). The CAD system may provide different line width options, but it is not suitable for the style required by technical illustrations ("thick and thin line method"), which forces it to be carried out later in the graphics program. Due to the increasingly rampant piracy of products, many companies now attach great importance to simplifying the illustrations of technical products and accept the costs incurred. In this way, it takes several hours for each illustration to complete such modification. In addition, it is impossible to correctly depict threaded parts or draw tools and hand shapes that must be displayed in illustrations with CAD systems

in short, 3D CAD system may provide rich functions for preparing data for making documents, but designers still have a lot of work to do. A solution should be found to reduce the burden on the design department and enable the document production department to modify the model without using another CAD workplace. Moreover, illustrators should be able to make such modifications without rich knowledge of CAD systems. It is also important to reduce the subsequent revision work and be prepared to deliver the illustrations electronically at a little extra cost

how to deal with changes

in an ideal environment, the document production department should start its work at a very early stage in the product development process. By designing products/making documents at the same time, we can improve the possibility of being ready to deliver documents when the product is completed. However, since the CAD model is usually modified many times during the development phase, any illustrations based on this model need to be updated accordingly. However, by linking the illustrations to the source data, changes to the product illustrations can be made automatically, which significantly reduces the time and cost of changes, while significantly shortening the time to market of the product

modern solutions

the above scenario is not an imagination of the future, but a reality that exists in many forward-looking companies today. Software programs (such as arbortext isodraw cadprocess) allow direct modification of 3D CAD models used for technical documents. An important economic benefit for the company in this regard is the centralized implementation of the whole process from 3D CAD to the delivery of illustrations on various media. Without using another tool to prepare and convert CAD data to modify illustrations and prepare to deliver illustrations electronically (for example, by adding "hot spots" to illustrations), a package can be executed with only one tool, but the profit is high, and the continuous process includes all these steps

in addition, these modern tools are very advanced, allowing you to use 3D models to create 2D and 3D animations, and you can also automatically update these animations by linking them to source data. Especially for small and medium-sized companies, the demand for animated installation manuals is no longer a fantasy; The document production department can achieve this goal without incurring additional financial costs. Another feature is that illustrators can even include 2D and 3D animation in the same application

finally, if the company uses the right tools and establishes a process to support the same goals, reusing 3D CAD data to produce technical documents will provide a huge savings potential for the company. If you want to study this topic more deeply, please go to

ash to download a rich flash demo, which explains the whole process in more detail. (end)

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