Cutaway Illustration, X-Ray And Exploded Views
3 mins read

Cutaway Illustration, X-Ray And Exploded Views


Cutaways vs Technical Animation

One of the first applications of 3D animation was technical animation – to explain and illustrate the inner workings of something. It’s possible, though expensive, to cut up a physical mechanical device to see how it looks. But while these are interesting to view, they don’t move. Usually it is not possible to operate it after the sections have been cut away. However, with a technical animation, of course, any approach is possible.

Colfax 2 Screw Pump Technical Animation

In this first technical animation, the goal of this cutaway illustration is to show the movement and relation of the inner parts of a two-screw type pump made by the manufacturer Colfax. Then, the screw pump animation depicts fluid as blue at inlet, changing to red at outlet, to give a very clear idea of the flow path.

X-ray view rendering of a 2-screw pump to show internal workings.

Colfax Zenith Pump Technical Animation

This next project is similar but illustrates a bit more.

First, still images were created to show the exploded view of all the pump internals. Realistic exploded views like this are fairly easy to create in the course of a technical animation project.

Exploded view of pump to show the individual parts.

The animation uses a similar kind of “x-ray” effect for the pump body. In the finished animation, in addition to depicting flow from several vantage points, the lubrication path is also indicated.

Colfax type IMO 8L pump Technical Animation

In this project the animation uses a see-thru type material to view the screw drive. But for the illustration shown below, a conventional cutaway of the steel top was used.

Cutaway illustration of a 2 screw type pump, rendered by Trinity Animation.

Lubrication injector valve cutaway animation

For the Lincoln SL-V lubrication injector animation, the cutaway is animated with a firey front edge to give some drama to the reveal. In the full animation, the internal cycle is illustrated with lubrication moving through the injector in measured pulses.

Animated cutaway illustration of a lubrication injector, with the outer half of the body "burned away."

Stills from the animation were useful as technical cutaway illustrations for the printed brochure [link to PDF].


An animation excerpt is below.

Technical Animation – Cutaway from Trinity Animation on Vimeo.


Layered cutaway Technical Animation

This project for a “fifth wheel” high end recreational vehicle would illustrate the layers of insulation and barriers installed on the top and sides. This vehicle, called the NuWa HitchHiker Discover America, would be depicted in both animation and also have a large still cutaway illustration used for the brochure. An excerpt from the print brochure is below.

Cutaway Illustration rendered by Trinity Animation for the NuWa Hitchhiker Fifth Wheel.

And this same image was turned into an animation for use on Nu-Wa’s website:

Other Cutaway Illustration and Animation Projects

In this Architectural cutaway illustration, you can see the internals of the parking structure and the office areas. With 3D models, any portion may be cut away to reveal what is inside.


An even more dramatic cross section is this ocean slice. This animation depicted the process of laying cable on the ocean floor. For many segments of this animation, it was helpful to just use a small square of isolated ocean to view the software analysis. See our detailed page about this animation.