Lattice Technology Blog

Communicate More Effectively and Efficiently: 3D Interactive Animations for the Manufacturing Company

Posted by Chris Hughes on Fri, 28 Oct, 2016 @ 11:04 AM

What is an interactive animation? How is it different than a video? What are the business benefits to the manufacturing company?

If a picture is worth a thousand words, an interactive animation must be worth millions.   Animated instructions, coupled with interactive viewing control and enhanced access to important meta-data, delivers understanding that transcends language barriers and educational shortcomings. 

3D Interactive Animation


A 3D interactive animation is like holding your product in your hands.  You can examine it from every angle while watching the assembly process (or service process) take place.   

With 3D animation, a worker can see exactly what is to be performed with each step, from any position; even which tool to use and how the tool should be positioned. The steps of assembly process are captured when the animation is created, but how it is viewed is controlled by the user. With interactive 3D animation, the process can be stopped and the view repositioned to see what was hidden before. Think of it as a movie that you can walk inside of and place yourself wherever you want to watch from.

Talk about creating a powerful user experience! The result is not just pretty pictures but rather a level of understanding not otherwise possible. Workers will do a better job, do it faster and training time will be reduced.

Interactive 3D Work Instructions for Assembly and Service


Manufacturing Engineers are familiar with “work breakdown” – breaking down assembly processes into smaller and smaller steps until they can be easily understood by the person on the shop floor.

These same people are also familiar with the problems associated with “text based” instructions – they are subject to interpretation and language issues.

Interactive 3D Work Instructions with the virtual assembly overcome these issues.  The visual, interactive experience allows for increased understanding while reducing the amount of text that must be written and maintained. In fact, our customers find they can reduce the number of steps because of the increased understanding that visualization brings.

With 3D animation, you can draw attention to the correct part, which is cross-highlighted in the bill of materials (BOM) along with the associated task in the task list.

Whether you are assembling a vehicle or a medical instrument, the more clearly the manufacturing assembly process can be documented and then effectively used by the assembly worker, the faster your assembly process will be and the end-products will have higher quality.

Your assembly process might have 100 work instructions or it might have 10,000. Regardless, a company’s goal should be that every step be as clear as possible -- removing all ambiguity, reducing or even eliminating language issues. 3D interactive animation can do this.

For example, one of our customers manufactures heavy equipment. They produce multiple products from a single plant.  The models and options manufactured are driven by what is sold (build-to-order), so months could go without the assembly worker seeing the same model again, let alone specific options. Before using work instructions, training and ramp-up time for manufacturing were issues.

This customer now has a set of electronic, interactive assembly instructions for each model, that are viewable on a tablet. The work instruction for a single model has over a hundred tasks and each task has multiple steps. Each step is linked to its associated parts and a 3D interactive model. And not only that, the exact work to be performed for each step has a 3D animation…that can be examined from all sides and viewed from angles not possible with the real product.

Interactive 3D Work Instructions for Design Review


Imagine having your entire product assembly (even those with thousands and thousands of parts) in a single instance that is viewable from virtually any device including a tablet that:

  1. Loads quickly and with the viewing performance you need.
  2. Let’s you “drill down” into subassemblies, hiding parts as needed, viewing any associated meta data from notes to GD&T.
  3. Enables not only viewing but complete interrogation of tolerances because the models still have CAD level accuracy.

You don’t have to use your imagination because it is possible with XVL®. XVL is a 3D format that is extremely compact and lightweight. CAD file sizes are commonly reduced to ½ of 1%.  So if you have an assembly with thousands of parts that is 4 gigabytes in CATIA ®, SOLIDWORKS ®, CREO ®, SolidEdge ®, or virtually any 3D CAD system, that same assembly in XVL is going to be 20 to 40 megabytes.  Handling those file sizes changes the game.

And just as important, no CAD license or skill is needed. In fact, XVL viewing licenses are free to all. Now anyone who has input into design can be included simply and easily at no cost.

How Can the Interactive Animations be Viewed?

There are many ways to view the interactive animations. All of the XVL licenses for viewing are offered at no-charge.

XVL Player™ - A standalone Windows™ program or installed in either FireFox™ or Internet Explorer™

Lattice3D Reporter™ - An add-in to Microsoft® Excel®

XVL Web Master™ - For authoring interactive web pages

iXVL Player™ - iOS app for the iPad, even the iPhone

How Difficult is it to Create 3D Interactive Animations?

So, you are probably thinking, yes, interactive 3D animations are powerful. They can be used on the shop floor or by anyone who has the business need to understand and/or interrogate 3D geometry and associated data — but they must be difficult or expensive to create.

Let me just say, it’s not that hard. No CAD licenses are required.  Geometry can easily be converted from all major 3D CAD systems.

There are three steps to create an animation that is truly 3D interactive:

  1. Define the order of the assembly, this is done by dragging and dropping parts in the tree.
  2. Run the assembly (or disassembly) automation. Our software is able to do much of the work for you. Parts usually have a natural axis and they usually have one way they can be assembled. XVL Studio™ understands these factors and is able to anticipate part movements for assembly/disassembly. XVL Studio also understands clashes, so it will route a part to avoid a clash.  And just as important, it understands tolerances.
  3. Manual adjustment; once this automation is complete, it can be adjusted…using drag and drop.

It has been reported that creating an animation using XVL Studio over conventional methods results in an 80% time savings.

For the equivalent of a couple of weeks salary of one of your professionals, you can have the power to create unlimited interactive animations.

Seeing Is Believing

We will be glad to show you a live demo.  If this looks interesting for your needs, we can set-up a free trial where you can use your own assembly data.


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