At ProEdit, we keep up with the latest software for elearning and technical illustration. We have been getting a lot of mileage out of SolidWorks® Composer™, a robust program that imports CAD data and produces dynamic images and animations.
In this article we’ll take a look at some of this program’s many tools, which can help you get the most out of its technical illustration and animation features.
SolidWorks® Composer™ is all about arranging CAD data into content-rich imagery and animation, and many of its tools focus on making this process as intuitive as possible. The Digger tool is a central suite of functions that gets you exactly where you want to be in the CAD data with speed and precision.
The Onion Skin feature of the Digger tool is perfect for demonstrating internal components of a system or focusing on a specific set of parts and assemblies. By placing the Digger tool over the area to showcase, then manipulating the onboard dial, you can peel back the CAD data layer by layer until only the material you need appears.
Capture Picture in 2D Image
The Digger tool isn’t limited to helping you arrange the CAD data for technical illustration and animation. Onboard tools allow the Digger tool to produce content that can be integral to the technical imagery.
With the Capture 2D Image feature, the Digger tool will generate an image of whatever is currently displayed inside the viewing window. These images exist on a level separate from the 3D CAD data and can be moved, resized, and adjusted to suit the needs of the specific documentation. We have had great success using this function to produce captions that show sub-steps in an assembly or alternate views of a component.
When you’re arranging CAD data into informative documentation, you want the result to be both instructive and professional. One of the features of SolidWorks® Composer™ that can help your documentation stay clean and well-organized is the Copy Transform function.
You can highlight one component that you’ve moved into place and use this tool to perform precisely the same changes to another component. For our projects, this has been useful for keeping assembly illustrations symmetrical and well-composed and for showing assembly steps that require the same actions, such as rotating multiple screws to the same specific tension.
Align Plane to Plane
Precision is essential for technical documentation, especially when introducing new material into your CAD arrangements. SolidWorks® Composer™ lets you add 3D models into the current environment. This can be useful for demonstrating how components interact or for adding tools or user models to make your documentation more informative.
The Align Plane to Plane tool is great for keeping material professionally arranged. Simply select a plane on the added model and the plane it should touch on the original, and the program will bring the planes together precisely.
High Resolution Image for Animations
SolidWorks® Composer™ will export video files of your animations in .avi format. For our projects, we find it helpful to apply additional video-editing software to frame the animations in auxiliary content.
By using the High Resolution Image workshop, you can generate individual images from your animation, rather than exporting a video file. These can be imported into a video-editing program and converted back into an animation, reducing file size and allowing for compatibility with video-editing capabilities. The in-program options for how frequently to draw images from the animation can help you control the frame rate of your animations.
We have used these and other features of this capable program to produce everything from instruction manuals to product demo videos. It’s just one of the ways we leverage the latest technology to bring value to our clients’ projects. Check us out to learn more about the programs we use and the dynamic content that we produce every day.
If you want to learn more about trialing SolidWorks Composer, feel free to contact our vendor, MLC CAD. This is an unpaid article. We want to inform you of the latest technical writing software and tools. What tools and software do you use?