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.


Request a Demo

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Collaboration the Key to Reducing Time To Market

Posted by Chris Hughes on Thu, 23 Jun, 2016 @ 02:00 PM

Collaboration Drives Ultra-Fast Order Turnaround and Reduces Man-Power by 90% for Die and Mold Company by Using XVL from Lattice Technology

Enterprise Information Portal

In order to provide ultra-fast turnaround, Tsubamex (manufacturer of tooling and molds in Japan) implemented a collaborative production process that includes all functional areas in the company — from sales to finishing. At the center of the collaboration is the Enterprise Information Portal (EIP) containing all of the information about a customer’s order and the parts to be manufactured. The EIP is powered by Lattice Technology’s XVL-based solutions, allowing anyone to easily access an accurate 3D model of the parts and the associated data — using even light-weight devices like Apple® iPads®. Eighty percent of their 120 employees use the portal to complete their job, creating an efficient collaboration environment for ensuring a quality product is produced efficiently and delivered with industry-leading speed.

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Tags: Concurrent Engineering

CASE STUDY: 3D – Backbone for Technical Communication for Improved Productivity and Quality

Posted by Chris Hughes on Fri, 29 Jan, 2016 @ 02:09 PM

The Need for Better Product & Technical Communications

The MAN Commercial Vehicles Group realized there had to be a better way to communicate with internal stakeholders and their supply chain when it came to part geometry and related information. Like most companies who design complex products, they are using 3D CAD. The problem was that the 3D models were “locked” away in engineering. There was a barrier…a fence around the engineering data. How could they effectively share these complex models with any stakeholder, inside and outside of their company, including with non-engineers?


The Solution - XVL and Lattice3D

The solution that MAN discovered was XVL and Lattice Technology. Lattice Technology repurposes the 3D CAD data from all the major CAD companies. Within the Lattice3D environment, additional information can be authored. And best of all, the 3D model and information can be shared and consumed for free. The sharing is similar to how documents are shared as a PDF. Just as the Adobe PDF reader is free, so is the Lattice3D Player - free as a download from the Lattice3D website.

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Tags: Digital Manufacturing, Manufacturing Processes, Technical Illustrations, Design for Manufacturing - DFM

CASIO User Manuals Deliver the Productivity Needed For Leading Electronics Manufacturer

Posted by Mark Guthrie on Tue, 30 Jun, 2015 @ 04:05 PM

Casio uses Lattice's technology to create customer manuals 50-60% faster than ever before. In addition, Casio's manuals are now more accurate and easier for the consumer to read.

"Explaining how to use our products properly is extremely important to us. Products, such as the latest digital cameras, can be a bit complex for people. So user manuals need to be easy to understand, accurate and up-to-date. The 3D CAD/CAM data files that we need to develop technical illustrations are huge, require a lot of training to manipulate, and are difficult to transfer to paper easily. Keeping the material updated, and therefore accurate, presents even more of a challenge," explained Casio.

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Tags: Manuals - 2D & Interactive 3D

Toyota’s Use of Lattice Technology Solutions and XVL for Better Manufacturing Planning

Posted by Bill Barnes on Wed, 24 Jun, 2015 @ 01:04 PM

Toyota’s Goal

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Tags: Design for Manufacturing - DFM, Assembly Process Planning, Quality

Interactive 3D Product Visualization Meets Excel

Posted by Mark Guthrie on Tue, 16 Jun, 2015 @ 02:52 PM

In January 2013, Beth Stackpole of Desktop Engineering published an article on how to view 3D models and work instructions in Microsoft Excel using Lattice3D Reporter version 6.0.

Since then, there have been more updates (we are now on version 7.1) to the product that have included some very powerful features. The most significant feature added in version 7.1 is the ability to create an interactive 3D PDF directly from Microsoft Excel, read more about it in this post.


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Concurrent Downstream Documentation — For the Engineering & Manufacturing Company

Posted by Bill Barnes on Tue, 03 Mar, 2015 @ 07:55 PM

This blog post is about considerations for how to speed the completion of the “complete product” by enabling concurrent processes downstream from engineering—namely documentation. A previous blog post regarding how Honda uses Lattice Technology solutions is referenced.

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Tags: 3D Visualization & Sharing, Quality, Concurrent Engineering

Four Essentials of Effective Work Instructions

Posted by Bill Barnes on Tue, 17 Feb, 2015 @ 11:12 AM

I recently came across the following post that I thought might be useful for people thinking about introducing assembly/manufacturing work instructions to their organizations or refining how work instructions are currently used. The author makes some excellent points. His point about keeping in mind the intended audience of the work instruction is particularly interesting.

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Tags: Work Instructions

Electrical Routing & Wire Harness Creation with MCAD for Downstream Documentation

Posted by Bill Barnes on Mon, 09 Feb, 2015 @ 09:57 AM

One of the favorite parts of my job is visiting our customers and finding out how we have helped them, or better still, finding out what we can do to help them even more.

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Tags: 3D Visualization & Sharing

New Version of Advanced Technical Communication Authoring Tool Announced

Posted by Bill Barnes on Fri, 23 Jan, 2015 @ 10:30 AM

Announces Lattice3D Studio Version 13.1.

This latest release of the company’s authoring tool contains features that speed time to market and decrease development costs for companies that develop and manufacture complex products.

“The new features in this release continue our effort to enable the enterprise to leverage 3D engineering data to downstream processes and compact product release cycles,” explained Bill Barnes, General Manager, Lattice Technology, Inc.  “For instance, using Lattice3D Studio version 13.1, companies can now create electrical routing for complete product representation. This allows both electrical and mechanical data to be used in interactive work instructions, technical illustrations and any other technical documentation.  Additional features better enable different team members to work concurrently.”

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Tags: 3D Visualization & Sharing