Want Customer Self-Service? Start with Your Technical Illustrators' Productivity

Written By: Jeff-Coon

How long does it take your technical illustrators to hand-trace line art? Two hours? Three?

If it takes you hours to create one 2D technical drawing, how are you supposed to create mobile-friendly technical illustrations? Or develop 3D animations that instruct customers on how to change their oil?

Visual content enables customer self-service. For example, a study from the National Technical University of Athens found interactive 3D animations allow people to better retain information about 3D objects.

However, if your illustrators spend the bulk of their time creating 2D drawings and integrating them with written text, they likely don’t have the bandwidth to develop 3D content that can more quickly convey service information.

But what if you could automatically translate your engineering team’s CAD data into 2D drawings, 3D illustrations, and even animations?

Toro can create technical illustrations in 15 minutes

It wasn’t always the case, but The Toro Company managed to drastically reduce the amount of illustrator resources it assigned to creating 3D content – from one hour to just 15 minutes.

Creo Illustrate has a feature that allows technical illustrators to convert CAD data into illustrations. You can import data from CATIA, SOLIDWORKS, Autodesk Inventor, or whatever other system your engineers use, and use that data to automatically render 3D illustrations of parts, assemblies, or entire products.

Andy Pieper, an information architect at Toro, said the tool not only helped the tech pubs team produce content faster but also enabled illustrators to focus on projects that directly benefited customers. Illustrators could spend time creating animations that show customers, mechanics, and others how to perform complex tasks on their own.

“By adding storyboards to our manuals, we’re able to walk technicians and end-users through procedures,” said Pieper.

Producing 3D service content at scale sets the foundation for customer self-service capabilities. If you want further details into how Creo Illustrate allowed Toro to develop more visual technical publications, you can read the full case study below:

Toro Case Study Creo Illustrate

  • Service & Parts

About the Author


Jeff Coon is PTC’s Solution Management Director, overseeing PTC’s illustration tools. With 34 years of experience in field service, Jeff’s career began as an AH-1 Attack Helicopter Repairman in the U.S. Army. After his time in the service, he worked as a technical illustration specialist at Boeing for five years until he joined ITEDO Software as a technical engineer in 2000. In 2006, he was named PTC’s Principal Application Engineer for the company’s illustration tools, defining implementation strategies for Boeing, John Deere, and others.