From flat documents to interactive 3D technical catalogs in one year

rotatable magnetron.jpgA rotatable magnetron assembly manufactured by Soleras

One year ago, Soleras Advanced Coatings implemented Quadrispace 3D communication software for technical document creation, doing away with the variety of programs it had been relying upon.

“One of the main benefits to QuadriSpace is we can use this one software program to create all our documents,” said Ann-Sophie Verhack, Soleras technical writer. “In the past we’d been using Microsoft Word or PowerPoint or Excel, but they weren’t easy to work with for what we wanted to accomplish with our technical documentation, nor were they professional looking,” she said.

optical coatings.jpgOptical coatings are one of many applications of sputtering technology

 The company, headquartered in Biddeford, Maine and in Deinze, Belgium, makes sputter targets used to make energy-efficiency glass, thin-film displays and batteries, among other uses. Soleras components are necessary in the sputtering process, a high-speed technology in which superfast ions hit a metal target and dislodge miniscule particles that in turn coat a thin film over products like architectural glass, large-screen televisions and computer displays. The electronics industry has used sputtering technology for decades in items like integrated circuits, but the technology is now being applied to advanced displays and low-energy glass. (If you want to know more about Soleras and sputtering technology I found this interesting article)

Soleras uses QuadriSpace technical documentation software to create catalogs that detail sputtering components and to create documents that provide technical details about those components.

“The big benefit of QuadriSpace is that we can make our own templates; we’re in full control of layout without any obligation imposed by Quadrispace, so we can say ‘that table must be six columns and this table needs to be seven columns,’ Verhack said.

The company designs its parts and products in Solid Edge, from Siemens PLM, which is compatible with QuadriSpace, she added. The compatibility allows for interactive, online catalogs, in which customers can click on and rotate parts and see models within exploded views. Solid Edge models can be immediately imported into the technical documentation program and used within the technical catalog. If an engineer changes or updates a Solid Edge model, those changes are immediately and automatically reflected in the catalog and other pertinent technical documents, Verhack said. “Also within your catalog, you can have the parts table and the model itself interact,” she added. “So if you click on a line in your parts table, that part in your model lights up. For our customers and internal users, that’s a big benefit. Interactive catalogs are much more visual then when we provided a flat list with the pictures of a model.” 

Documents created with QuadriSpace can be published within PDF, 3D PDF HMTL, and in QuadriSpace’s Share3D formats, Verhack said. The technical documentation software also allows Soleras to publish its documents in HTML5 format, which means they can be placed on a password-protected area of the Soleras web site for users to access. Soleras is currently at work on that capability, Verhack added.

soleras 3d parts catalog.jpgExample of a spare parts document from Soleras. This is a 3D PDF document and the user can interactively “explode” the assembly.

 “The customer will be able to see the technical documents they need on our web site, so they don’t need to print them or look for them on a CD,” Verhack said.

For a coatings company that has grown with the times and expects to see even greater growth as the markets for thin-films and for energy-efficient architectural glass and other types of low-e glass picks up, advances in their technical documentation capabilites were very necessary. QuadriSpace will help make document creation easy at Soleras and will help the company’s customers access exactly what they’re looking for with greater ease than ever, Verhack said.

This is the third in a series of blog posts on technical documention. You can read more on the challenges and opportunities for using 3D digital models for creating technical documents, and more about software solutions from QuadriSpace.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at