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What makes good technical visualization?

Visualization on the computer on the basis of 3D data, has established itself over the last 20 years. The continuous availability of 3D data in development and design promotes and simplifies CGI production (Computer Generated Imagery). Technology visualization is a separate and very broad field of CGI visualization, ranging from simple operating instructions to highly emotional technology presentation.

What are the particular challenges of technology visualization?

In a "normal" CGI product visualization, the focus is usually only on the most attractive staging of the product. In marketing productions it is often the case that the context is more important than the product itself, because one wants to create associations on an emotional level. This can also be done with technical visualizations, but in addition there is the great challenge of showing real functionality.

You can roughly divide this complexity into two groups: Technical complexity and content complexity.

Of course, there are still products that are very simply structured and have only one function. But these do not need any technical product visualization. There are exceptions here as well. (see link) Today, technical complexity includes almost all products and machines or only parts of them. The component complexity and the number of components can be a challenge. In mechanical engineering, this ranges from hand tools (drill, etc.) to production lines that fill entire halls.

Compared to the pure product presentation from the outside, technical visualization is about "looking inside" and showing things that you normally wouldn't see. The best way to do this is in operation with the complete functionality. The second challenge is to get the 3D models working. Kinematics from CAD cannot always be transferred. The processed raw materials, such as threads, liquids, tablets, wheat grains, etc. must behave correctly.

Visualisation of the processing in a combine harvester - © John Deere

With such large machines with thousands of individual parts, handling large amounts of data in CGI becomes a further challenge. These machines therefore also have a high degree of complexity in terms of content.

But there is another area of technical visualization that has a high level of content complexity without being a machine. For example, the representation of networked services and services. Vehicles and especially e-vehicles are highly linked to their environment and countless services.

Visualization of the infrastructure of an electric vehicle © Porsche

Infrastructure visualization is another example. When it comes to the visualization of software and its operation, you quickly reach your limits. The peculiarity of software with partly deeply nested operating concepts in connection with their effects on and in machines can easily become confusing. The cockpit and operating panels of a modern tractor are so complex and have so many functional effects on the machine that they are difficult to convey even in animations.

A few questions at the beginning of a project will give you an indication of the visualization technique to be used:

  • What data do I have available?
  • Should it be a static representation?
  • Do I have functional sequences that I want to show?
  • What level of detail do I want to show? Do I really want to show everyone everything?
  • IP protection!
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