Why don't you create the whole manual inside of solidworks.
I use the tables in solidworks just as I would if they were done inside of Excel. Only use notes & tables where you need them to be.
You could utilize the properties in a way that the part numbers update themselves if you pack and go for each new assembly & drawing that you are working on.
I don't see why you can't make a manual in solidworks if you can make it inside of Microsoft Word.
I forgot to add,
Whenever you resize any image, the quality of the picture will ALWAYS change usually for the worse. With windows 10, you can use the built in snipping tool to take a screenshot. You can use that to get the perfect zoom of the drawing then snip it without resizing in word.
I have not had a single problem with the quality of pictures I have saved a drawing as PDF. All of my PDF's you can zoom in and see straight lines and nothing is blurry.
Can you give us an idea of what you are working with and how it turns out? maybe a visual representation can help us determine a better way to help you.
Jason Martin wrote:
...built in snipping tool to take a screenshot.
The Snipping tool is a wonderful addition for every Windows user. It is available in Windows7 as well.
That's how I have been doing it; saving a PDF then using the snipping tool. It works well enough for printed pages, but I want to be able to zoom in on drawings when I open it on a computer.
I end up having severe performance issues once there are multiple complex sheets in a solidworks drawing. Also, if the drawing is opened up a year or so later, there will be many errors to fix (based on previous experience), which is annoying if I only need to change one number in a table. Also, this is for a parts book added to the end of an operator's manual, so only about 1/3 or so of the document is exploded views, and the rest is words and formatting.
I can understand the performance issues with having many views on a drawing. Especially Exploded views.
But, I cant understand why if you open a drawing you have to fix errors. I can only imagine if this is because you change the parts/assemblies between the last time it was opened and used. I can only think that your drawings & parts/assemblies are being "re-used" or modified. Nothing should change with the drawing unless you make a change to the part.
Solidwork's ability to manipulate a single view in a drawing is amazing for doing manuals for whatever view you need. I once made a manual on how to correctly do maintenance on a railroad truck. Everything was designed in Solidworks. The drawings did take time to load, but it was worth the trouble of waiting for than to use word and copy pictures each time a change was made before the final product. Solidworks also prevented me from missing a change since everything updates automatically. I just found a way to make it work.
Also, if you do use solidworks to create a PDF of your drawing, you should have no problem zooming in on it.
One way you could improve your PDF output is to increase the quality when saving the drawing. When you save as a PDF there is an options button available. Click that to change the resolution to what you need. Go high as is it better visually to make the image smaller in Word.
I would open the PDF images in illustrator and save as ai files, then import into indesign for manual creation. Images are then vector based so no loss in quality when resizing.
I have neither of those programs right now, but I'll look into getting them.
One of my biggest gripes with professional programs (of which I consider Word and SW) is that the output should be top notch. For the life of me I cannot understand why SW doesn't support vector output for this type of stuff... Well, they want to sell you Composer, but that's a horrible excuse. And shame on Microsoft. It is 2018 and the only supported vector import format is EMF. Yep, you got that right EMF. Who the hell uses EMF?
The only constructive things I have to add are to use a 4k monitor and to use Latex or another typesetting program. If you use a 4k monitor your screen grabs will be scaled up to whatever window size you use on the 4k monitor. Remember you are "screen" grabbing at whatever resolution your window consumes. If you've got a 1080 monitor, that's the largest screen grab possible 1920x1080 pixels.
And, If you want a professional manual and don't want to deal with Word crashing on you constantly, use a typesetting application designed for this type of thing. Frankly, I think word sucks at it and crashes too much. There are expensive tools, but Latex is free. It does have a steep learning curve, though. I'd definitely recommend getting with someone who knows how to setup and use it. Good news is that once you learn it you won't go back.
Dean Baragar wrote:
I am looking for ideas to improve the picture quality for our parts manuals. Currently we create our exploded views with balloons, then save the drawing as a pdf, crop and copy into a word document, which is then saved as a pdf. We create the BOM in Word because the Solidworks tables are not easy to change (ie. if the part number changes after the drawing is created). This means that we need to scale the pictures to fit the page better. The pictures end up degrading and most of the time look really bad.
How are others doing this to maintain the picture quality. Even some of the direct SW->PDF conversions look really bad when you start to zoom in.
When you "crop", do you do so outside of Word?
What I do is to insert a picture in Word and then stretch it out, going beyond the page's margins, then reinsert the picture again.
When the picture is reloaded, it isn't "stretched out", so this "maximizes" the resolution so that when you do crop, what remains is large.
Usually larger than what's needed, but it's better to reduce than to enlarge, I think.
I crop within Word using the picture tools.
I usually have to rotate the picture 90° at a time to be able to grab the crop handles (I don't enter the crop size in the dialog) and then rotate again to get the orieantation correct.
Also, why PDF?, Have you tried some of the raster formats with the resolution cranked up?
Also, you can save BOMs as external files, such as Excel that may come into Word better. They can be tables in Word so you don't need to be concerned if the drawing DOM is legible enough.
You can also create a drawing with the BOM outside of the drawing border making more room for the view(s), perhaps even to a larger scale.
Then in Word, the drawing is basically an illustration with a separate table listing what's what.
Maybe even an exploded view w/o a drawing border with a parts table floated on the page near it, but separate for easier placement/page layout.
A Save As BOM is not linked to its SW BOM (unless you use Excel BOMs in SW), but neither are your PDF files linked to thier SW drawings.
Just some serving suggestions. FWIW.
Have you tried "print to pdf" rather than save to pdf. In case of print to pdf you can use larger paper size than actual one, resulting in better resolution.
For obtaining high resolution screenshots, have you tried "Save as: jpeg"
You can adjust the settings with the "Options" button..
Example Image Actual Size = 19200x10800 (10x Screen Resolution..!!)
I would've posted the actual output file but for the 10MB upload limit. (This image came out at over 19MB)
Zoomed In x 350% (Approx)
Disclaimer: It can be time consuming., dependent upon your hardware. Example image posted took 20mins to create.
I used to do it that way, but I found that the word document would end up getting ridiculously big (up to 300MB) and have performance issues because there will be dozens of high res pictures. We had to roll back the quality to be able to email the manual.
I know how that can be. Most places I've sent emails to have a maximum file size attachment in an email. The norm I've found to be is about 10mb-15mb. Anything more than that requires an FTP transfer site.
But if only size is an issue, you can use lower rssolution while creating image from SWX, so you don’t have to resize them later and also shall be faster.