User Manual Technical Illustration Tools?

Hey all -
I’m looking for software recommendations based on experience creating illustrations for user manuals.
The output images would be used for both print and digital publication, so flexibility in file formats is desirable, as well as the ability to create animations on the digital platforms.
Our design and engineering teams are all Solidworks based, so I’m looking seriously at Soldiworks Composer, but I don’t have first hand knowledge of it’s capability. We are currently utilizing Illustrator, but the ‘export from Solidworks and trace’ process seems so inefficient…

Our Tech Pubs group uses Composer. Based solely on the lack of any special requests from their group to ours, I’d say its a successful product and workflow.

Ah yes - a very important basis for consideration! Thanks.
Any idea if they’ve been producing clear, understandable animations at all?
Particularly curious about service activities consumers/owners might need instruction about prior to executing.

I don’t believe they have been creating animations using Composer. I can try to obtain one of the service manuals and send it to you, if you’d like. Its not real fancy. Then again the tech pubs staff are primarily writers, and use Composer as part of their jobs, rather than technical diagram experts, and like I said I don’t get asked for many favors (e.g. “can you create this view for me”) so it must be working ok for them.

Composer does animations. I didn’t think it was worth the extra cash over SW export to Illustrator. I found it a big hard to get the exact line weights that I wanted and it still gave me some weird artifacts that I had to clean up. Maybe it saved me 80% of the Illustrator time, but we weren’t doing enough manuals to make that time saving worth it.

Thanks for the input - our tech illustrator is a hard core illustrator wizard, and he’s been using that Soldiworks > .ai workflow.
Because we have a fair bit of user service/maintenance opportunities, the animation capability could be a huge help in providing clarity; being able to pull up a video tutorial could be a much better experience than pinch/zooming through our standard .pdf

A little OT, but I would think the animations would be helpful in augmenting YouTube set up videos. I was installing a new piece of hardware in the studio this past weekend. The set up was a bit more complicated than expected and the manual was a bit thick, the illustrations were pretty good but somethings were still hard to understand (especially what side was up, or what angle I was looking at sometimes… and I’d think it would be harder for people who are less visually/spatially inclined), anyway, 10 minutes in I just searched for it on YouTube and of course there were multiple set up videos… both from the company itself and from other people.

I’ve always wanted to learn Composer but never got around to it.

Creo sell 2 products specifically in this area (don’t recall the names) which I believe can take CAD from any software to use in them also, but I don’t know how good or popular they are.

It would be nice if someone made an Illustrator plugin that allowed 3-D models to be used/imported as vector data. You can take 3-D mesh models into Photoshop!