What Is a Technical Data Package?

Written by: Dave Martin

Read Time: 4 min.

A technical data package (TDP) is a set of electronic files, created by a product development organization, that describes a product or item. These files are used by downstream teams in the supply chain and can include 3D models, product manufacturing information (PMI), bills of material (BOMs), and any other necessary data.

 Annotated model of a turbine exhaust.

Image: A turbine exhaust part created in Creo with tolerancing and other manufacturing information added.

Why You Should Care About Technical Data Packages


I have had a few confounding experiences with traditional 2D production drawings in industry:

  • At one company, we shared PDFs of our drawings with our manufacturers. When visiting them in China, I found out that their first step was to re-create the models in CAD to plan their manufacturing processes.
  • In another organization, our internal supply chain people would transcribe the drawing BOM into Excel to sort components between commercial off the shelf (COTS), internally manufactured, and externally produced. This was tedious and introduced errors.
  • Inventory, internal receiving, and inspection groups would mark up printouts of drawings when performing their functions, and later transcribe the information back into their records.

These manual paper-based workflows feel backward in the 21st century. Model-based definition, or MBD, streamlines the workflow and eliminates inefficiency by making the 3D model the source of truth. Instead of a printout or a PDF, the deliverable from engineering is a technical data package.

Sharing Models

The TDP will contain models, such as native Creo or CAD-neutral STEP AP242 format files. The models include product and PMI in the form of 3D annotations organized into combination states.

With models, you can:

  • View and manipulate (spin, pan, and zoom) them to understand its geometry. This is easier than translating 2D drawing views into 3D in your mind’s eye.
  • Cross section, explode, measure, and annotate the model.
  • Query the references of the 3D annotations. For example, by selecting a geometric tolerance, the surface references will appear highlighted. By selecting a surface, the related dimensions, geometric tolerances, notes, symbols, surface finishes, and other details highlight.


Additional Elements

The TDP can include additional files that can be used by other organizations within the enterprise.

The Bill of Materials (BOM). This is a list of the components in an assembly. By including this report in an electronic Excel or CSV file, it can be consumed by downstream systems like enterprise resource planning (ERP) and used by the entire supply chain. This increases fidelity and eliminates errors.

Viewables. Files for lightweight viewing software can often be helpful to those who want to see the information without a full-blown CAD license. (In many cases, viewer apps are free to download. See CreoView for example.)

Notes. Typically, the additional instructions for fabrication, inspection, and acceptance appear on a 2D drawing sheet or flat to screen in an MBD combination state. However, by placing these notes in a separate document, you can revise the notes without revising the drawing and models. The document contents are also searchable in Windchill. For example, you can find every note that has a reference to a particular specification.

Schematics. If your product contains cabling or piping, the TDP can contain the wiring diagrams or piping and instrumentation diagrams (P&ID) used to generate them.

First Article Inspection (FAI) sheets. These documents specify what needs to be checked in a product to be accepted as meeting standards.

2D Drawings. If someone downstream insists on a standard 2D production drawing, yes, you can include this in the technical data package. But generating a 2D drawing will reduce the level of process gains.

The technical data package can contain any other files that benefit your organization, such as those for manufacturing process planning, maintenance, and quality assurance.

The Takeaway

By generating a technical data package as part of model-based definition, your organization eliminates the inefficiencies of the traditional operating methods. Instead of sharing PDFs or printouts that people cannot use directly in their systems, you are sharing files with downstream processes and teams that make their lives easier.

This modern approach helps you get to market faster at lower costs. If you want to reap these benefits, start incorporating MBD into your product development process today.

Model-Based Definition

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About the Author

Dave Martin

Dave Martin is a Creo, Windchill, and PTC Mathcad instructor and consultant. He is the author of the books “Top Down Design in Creo Parametric,” “Design Intent in Creo Parametric,” and “Configuring Creo Parametric,” all available at amazon.com. He can be reached at dmartin@creowindchill.com.

Dave currently works as the configuration manager for Elroy Air, which develops autonomous aerial vehicles for middle-mile delivery. Previous employers include Blue Origin, Amazon Prime Air, Amazon Lab126, and PTC. He holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from MIT and is a former armor officer in the United States Army Reserves.