3D data are already available in many manufacturing companies. In most cases, 3D models have already been created during the product development phase using M-CAT systems such as Autodesk Inventor or Solid Edge. Once created, these models are usually entered into a product lifecycle management (PLM) system where the different versions can be managed alongside additional, supplementary data.
In addition, an engineering bill of materials (EBoM) is usually compiled in the ERP system during product development. This records all the components and materials used in the manufacture of the device and is essentially the “map” and inventory for the entire product.
With the models and the EBoM together, we actually have everything we need as technical writers. However, the 3D models are far too big for use in technical documentation; a single model often consists of several hundred GB of data. These models are therefore not (yet) suitable for technical writing purposes and for publication on a website, for example.
Editing 3D Models as a Technical Writer
Sometimes, however, 3D models are already available in more data-saving “lightweight” formats. This may be the case if the system used to manage the spare parts catalog (EPC) also works with 3D models, for example. In this case, a complete database is already available to the technical writers.
If there are no such lightweight formats in the company so far, then the 3D models can also be transformed in the technical writing department itself using one of the authoring tools available on the market for the secondary use of 3D models. The advantage of this software is that the license costs are significantly lower than for complete systems, plus the training time for technical writers is reduced due to the smaller range of functions. There is a whole range of suitable systems on the market. The most important thing when choosing the right one for you is that the software is capable of randomizing dimensions and removing metadata (see more on this in our blog post).