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Technical Illustrations via 3D Engineering Models

New here. I’ve been in the technical communication trade for decades, several decades. I was owner/operator of a technical manual production company before Aldus PageMaker and Ventura Publisher surfaced as the “must have” solutions.

My question today relates to leveraging 3D engineering models for use in 2D and 3D interactive deliverables. This question pertains mostly to authors creating hardware documents such as user guides, installation instructions, maintenance manuals, etc.. When leveraging existing 3D engineering geometry (SLDASM, SLDPRT, IGS, SAT, STEP, etc.), what tools and process do you use to manipulate the 3D models for migration into your documents?


  • Misha_KMisha_K United StatesPosts: 5
    Huh, not surprised to see that you included "autodesk inventor." among your tags.

    I've worked at companies where the engineering posse used Pro-E and Solidworks, before, and thought that Solidworks' support for  tecnical publications output was not nearly as good as Pro-E, but it was still workable.

    Inventor doesn't seem to care much, one way or the other. There is an Autodesk option, "Autodesk Inventor Publisher" that I downloaded and tried when it first came out, about 5 years ago. It was mostly good for exporting video. Couldn't even get a live, editable PDF out of it. It may have improved, since -- it couldn't have been much less  useful, it has to be better.

    There's also something called Kisters Viewer. (I'm not sure, but always thought the company started by purchasing the 3D CAD /Step file software that used to be a part of Adobe Acrobat, up through about version 11?)

    I downloaded a trial this past summer, when they issued a new release that claimed to be able to open Autodesk  .DWF files. It couldn't.

    So, I'm still using the very fragile, crash-prone, limited-options  Autodesk Design Review Viewer to open and  manipulate models, occasionally.

    Really don't know if any other options exist. (Might have to go back to Autodesk Inventor Publisher.)

    How about you, what have you been using?
  • Misha_K,

    Thanks for the response.

    I hadn't heard of Krister 3D ViewStation. I checked it out and will download for testing. It appears quite robust and probably best suited for large enterprise product life-cycle environments where many eyes must view complex assemblies.

    I receive 3D files from many sources and usually open them with SolidWorks for downstream use as 2D dwgs as technical illustrations. I am a patent draftsman.

    I am occasionally tasked to produce 3D PDF instruction sheets, mechanical animations, parts manuals or 3D web content. So, I set out to find a combination authoring, viewing and publishing tool set that didn't require having native engineering programs. I found QuadriSpace. I like it so much, I have signed up as a reseller. I am reteaching myself HTML, CSS, etc., to build a demonstration website. I've got the basic mechanics down - including embedding a 3D interactive model in my "under construction" website: www.3d-documents.com. I have to work out some bugs, because it doesn't work on all views. It's just a start, but full information is available at the QuadriSpace website. 

    Yes, I have Inventor, but rarely use it. My company (mom n' pop) specializes in patent drawings. My patent drawing website is www.iplawdrawings.com. So, I use Inventor when I need to, SolidWorks when its best, etc. For my patent business, the most important issue is to have high quality vector line output from the 3D environments. "Viewers", including 3Dpdfs, have a good HLR (hidden lines removed) viewing options, but terrible quality vector line output. 

    Thanks again for your response.   
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