The following article first appeared in the March 2012 edition of DEVELOP3D.
Q: With technical illustration do you mean the Haynes diagram type of things that we’re all familiar with and occasionally stare at blankly?
A: Yes, those are the ones. There’s a key difference between the illustrations that are used for communicating actions in installation, service and maintenance documents and those found in technical drawings for production.
Q: You mean I can’t just use those I created in my CAD application and repurpose them?
A: It depends on your audience. In many cases, detail needs to be removed and contextual annotation added. Also things like indicative arrows, trail lines for part removal and a hand holding a torque wrench in the right position, are all typically difficult to carry out in mainstream CAD.
Q: So what other options are available?
A: There’s a growing range of tools that are focussing on the creation of technical illustrations. PTC acquired Isodraw some time ago, which is perhaps the grandaddy of them all, and is integrating these tools into Creo Illustrate. Dassault Systèmes has 3DVia Composer (turn to page 43 for a review of the latest release). Autodesk has released Inventor Publisher, which has a few extra tricks up its sleeve, not in the least, pretty nifty and free iPad integration. There are also some lesser known tools such as QuadriSpace so it’s worth digging around.
Q: Wait. iPad? That’s not a grease covered Haynes manual.
A: Well, no, clearly. There’s a move to create electronic service and installation documents that are very graphically led. These can be delivered online as an app, however you want it really. It’s exciting times but some of us will miss peering at smudged instructions on how to remove a crank case.