Create Electronic Work Instructions Using 3D CAD Models

What Is a Work Instruction?

A work instruction is a reference/teaching/training document that clearly and unambiguously communicates a series of steps to complete a task. A Work Instruction can be entirely text, although those which include more graphics have the following benefits:
  • Easier to understand
  • Less training time
  • Less errors

A single Work Instruction may include 10, 20, even a 100 or more steps.

Some examples of Work Instructions:

Work Instructions example

Animated Work Instructions


Microsoft Excel with Interactive Work Instructions

Microsoft Excel with Interactive 3D

Types of Work Instructions

2D Work Instructions

2D Work Instructions are what most companies use; they are usually created with general purpose tools like Microsoft Word or PowerPoint with graphics developed using tools from Adobe and Corel. They are static documents contrasted to Interactive 3D Work Instructions. 2D Work Instructions may be deployed on paper or electronically, the most common method for electronic deployment is 2D PDF (in contrast to a 3D PDF, described below). With an electronic deployment, an animation (e.g. a video) of the process can be included in 2D Work Instructions.

Interactive 3D Work Instructions

The use of interactive 3D Work Instructions has been increasing. The development of 3D Work Instructions requires special purpose software applications which are able to directly leverage/translate the 3D models from the 3D CAD system. Interactive 3D Work Instructions enable the user to interact with the 3D assembly while increasing understanding quickly by bringing the product to life. Here are the primary benefits of implementing Interactive 3D Work Instructions.

  • Re-positioning the model in order to better understand the task to be performed
  • Hyperlinks between the part geometry, parts list and process steps
  • Warnings and additional information attached to specific steps

Use Cases for Visual Work Instructions

Work Instructions have a number of uses. For example:

  • Manufacturing Work Instructions & Assembly Work Instructions
  • Service Work Instructions
  • Training

Work Instructions from Lattice Technology:

With XVL-based Work Instructions from Lattice Technology, graphics are leveraged directly from the 3D CAD model. The Work Instructions are interactive with hyperlinks from part/assembly geometry to process steps and part lists.

  • Creating: Easy-to-use authoring tool that automates much of the process
  • Change Management: Product changes are captured and highlighted to streamline updates when engineering changes occur, preserving pre-existing work
  • Save Time and Increase Accuracy: Directly leverage models from virtually any 3D CAD systems
  • Free Consumption: Many FREE options are available for using and consuming work instructions, including mobile devices

Benefits of Authoring Assembly Work Instructions using Lattice Technology Solutions

  • Free to view on any platform
  • Faster learning curve using multiple modes of instruction
  • Better comprehension from interactive 3D models
  • Fewer mistakes; less rework, lower costs
  • Lower production costs – author once and publish to many different formats
  • Reduce translation costs – can use 3D models and 2D illustrations to minimize text

Features of XVL-Based Work Instructions

  • Static or interactive with 3D animations
  • Multiple cross-linked views
  • Published to different formats for PCs or mobile devices
  • 3D models, 2D illustrations and text instructions
  • Human mannequins to show positions and assembly techniques
  • Tools and equipment used in each task
  • Bill of Materials: mBOM and eBOM; with robust capabilities such as manufacturing kits

How to Author a Work Instruction?

Work Instructions from Lattice Technology are created using XVL Studio, which simplifies much of the process through automation.

For example for part movement during assembly or disasembly, XVL Studio automatically predicts the part paths Since XVL models are accurate, when XVL Studio selects the path for a part to travel, potential clashes are avoided.

For proper viewing of the process step, XVL Studio will select an optimal camera position for the best display of the operation.

After these automated actions, the user can begin their documentation of the process. The automated paths and camera positions can easily be edited.

How Are Work Instructions Viewed, Consumed and Used?

Work instructions, can of course, be printed on paper. However there are many advantages for deploying them electronically.

Electronic Work Instructions have many benefits, here are just some of them:

  1. Go Green - Save money on printing, storage, distribution and destruction
  2. Access & Security - Control who has access to what information
  3. Consistency - Ensure the right version is being used by your workforce
  4. Changes - Rapidly deploy changes when they occur
  5. Interactivity - Electronic Work Instructions allow you to bring your instructions to life with interactive 3D (more detail below)

Interactive Electronic Work Instructions

Interactive access has several advantages, such as:

  • Clarity and ease-of-use: Only the current step is presented, while direct access to all steps is also available. Animations may also be included
  • Interactive model viewing: For each step, the model can be re-positioned for optimal viewing and understanding of the step, while annotations remain visible
  • Simplified maintenance: When engineering changes occur or procedures are revised, updates to work instructions previously deployed can be done faster

For interactive deployments, many choices for devices and applications are available – all of which are FREE.


XVL Studio: 3D PDFs can be created in XVL Studio without programming or scripting. Click here for a sample.

Desktop and Laptop Computers

XVL Player: As a standalone application or as a FREE add-on for Microsoft Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox

Lattice3D Reporter: FREE plug-in for Microsoft Excel

Interactive Web Pages

XVL Web Master to create interactive web pages (XVL Signer can be used to secure these pages as well as any XVL file).

Related Blog Posts

Four Essentials of Effective Work Instructions

3D PDF – Squeezing Value from CAD Models by Sharing Technical Data

Leverage CAD: 3-Step Solution: Geometry to Entire Product Lifecycle


 To request a free trial, click Electronic Work Instructions.

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