cadasio.com – The future of IKEA instructions?
Cadasio.com allows you to easily create animated assembly instructions online using your existing CAD files.
Any sort of assembly instructions are both incredibly useful and insanely frustrating at the same time. IKEA is a great example of a company dependant on clear instructions to create happy, returning customers. They’ve published thousands of instructions on the web for download and even launched their own ‘How to Build IKEA Products‘ YouTube playlist.
One of the biggest challenges to anyone creating instructions is how to make them accessible to all users regardless of language. Each instruction must guide the reader along the correct set of steps in an easy to understand manner. IKEAs solution is to publish pictorial PDF instructions online, and while they do a great job of simplifying the construction process they can be hard to read on a mobile phone.
What if there was a platform available that allowed you to publish gorgeous looking step by step assembly instructions using the CAD files your designers create?
Well, I’m glad you asked, as new website cadasio.com does exactly that. I know about this platform as it’s been co-created by my brother who kindly let me try this out before public launch. Currently in early access, you can register and use the platform free of charge.
The idea is a simple one, you import your CAD file and can then manipulate it online, taking snapshots as you go to form a set of steps. Cadasio animates between each step and the completed set of steps can be embedded into a website or accessed via a QR code giving you a wide range of distribution options.
This allows you to create brilliant looking fully interactive and animated assembly instruction, imagine if all Ikea instructions looked this good.
Upload, Create Steps, Publish
Cadasio is an online service, you don’t need any local software to run it. This has the immediate advantage that you don’t require specialist computers (as you would with other CAD software) and it’s been designed to be used by non CAD experts, like me.
I’ve never used SolidWorks, Inventor or any of the other CAD packages, and that’s the point of cadasio: anyone can take a CAD file and turn it into instructions in 3 easy steps.
Step 1: Upload CAD file
The first step is to upload a CAD file. This can be done via the web-based file uploader (which I used) or via one of the CAD package plugins:
|AutoDesk Fusion 360||https://www.cadasio.com/plugins/fusion.html|
Once uploaded you’ll have a short wait while the file is processed and made ready for use. A thumbnail is generated for easy identification on your project screen, I can update this to something better looking once new steps have been created.
Each project has a set of attributes you can set such as project name, description, and toolbox (the toolbox holds items such as arrows, social media icons etc). In the details page, you can view the steps created and the components within the CAD file.
Once your file is ready you move on to the second step.
Step 2: Create Steps
The magic behind cadasio is the Designer work space, where you create different steps and add annotations.
The process is much like stop motion, you position your model, take a snapshot (aka step) and move on to the next pose. Unlike stop motion animation you don’t need to worry about animating all the movements if you move part A from point 1 to point 2 cadasio will animate the movement between steps.
Via the toolbox (which can be customised with your own preset tools, see below explainer video) you can add text, labels, images, arrows, social media icons, checklists, parts lists, dotted lines and more.
The web interface is easy to use but the overall process takes time to master. Although someone with no CAD experience can use the software it will be a huge benefit if they understand how the model is built, e.g. someone working at Ikea would need to understand how to build the item in order to create cadasio instructions showing this process.
I’ve found it best to start with the item completed and create the steps by taking the item apart. Once completed you can reverse the order of steps, e.g. if you have steps 1 – 30 showing it disassembling by revering the order 30 – 1 you now show the items being assembled.
Step 3: Publish assembly instructions
With the hard work done it’s time to publish your shiny new assembly instructions for use by the general public. The files are hosted by cadasio.com, you can embed them into your website, share a URL or share via QR code.
The embed code is an iframe code. In WordPress (the platform I use) this can be pasted into a post and will be automatically recognised and embedded.
This allows visitors to your site to access the viewer. This isn’t just for playing the instruction animation, it’s fully interactive and allows visitors to zoom and rotate what’s on-screen, making awkward angles and confusion of where something fits a thing of the past. Try it out with this cool robot, you can move it around and even switch between assembled and disassembled via the arrows button.
If you have printed material such as a catalogue, advert, magazine or in the box instructions, you can also generate a QR code users can scan on mobiles to load the instructions.
What about Solidworks Composer/Catia Composer?
I’m not in the CAD industry so I had to check around for alternatives offering something similar to this and I came across Solidworks Composer and Catia Composer. From what I can tell these are both very expensive options which haven’t been kept updated with latest technology. For example they can’t do interactive 3D online without using the outdated ActiveX system which has been identified as a high security risk:
ActiveX has been known to pose serious security risks and it’s currently only supported by Microsoft on Internet Explorer — ActiveX is not supported by other browsers such as Chrome, Safari or Firefox.Eduard Kovacs, Security Week
Even Microsoft has advised Internet Explorer 11 users not to disable security settings that prevent the downloading and execution of ActiveX controls, unless absolutely necessary. Malicious hackers can abuse ActiveX to collect information about a user, install malware, or take control of a device.
It appears Solidworks is attempting to modernise with the launch of the Solidworks 3DExperience platform, a suite of applications that extends SolidWorks and takes it online, which would complement the online nature of Cadasio really well.
At the time of writing there are 3 options avaialble to you.
Personal Plan – FREE
That’s right, you can make use of the site without spending anything at all. Your account will be supported by adverts and you will have a maximum of 3 projects available, but this is a great plan to test drive the solution without spending any money.
Professional Plan – $50 per user per month
The professional plan ups the projects from 3 to 20, removes adverts and provides a number of other features.
Corporate Plan – Bespoke Pricing
For those with specific needs a bespoke price will be generated. This is the option to go for if you want full control and the ability to self host your instructions.
Additional Project Packs
One thing to note, you don’t need to move plan to get more projects, additional project packs can be purchased on the free and professional plan at a cost of:
- $30 per month for +10 project
- $50 per month for +20 project
- $75 per month for +50 project
Conclusion – Ikea should give this a go!
Even in early access, there is a lot going for cadasio.com, the free plan gives you the chance to try out all the features without spending any money at all. If you have a range of CAD files you can upload, create steps, and publish interactive instructions very quickly.
The site has application beyond assembly instructions, the showcase page demonstrates this with a range of demonstration projects.
The early access nature means this isn’t a finished product and as more customers come on board and provide feedback new features will be added, any remaining bugs squashed and additional plugins created to make this compatible with as many different platforms as possible.
- Currently offering free to use plan of full features
- Doesn't need high powered PC
- Doesn't require extensive CAD knowledge
- Publish instructions online
- Access instructions via QR code
- Early access software so don't expect it to be perfect
- No WordPress plugin for easy publication