Computer Graphics

University of California - Berkeley

Illustrating How Mechanical Assemblies Work


How things work visualizations use a variety of visual techniques to depict the operation of complex mechanical assemblies. We present an automated approach for generating such visualizations. Starting with a 3D CAD model of an assembly, we first infer the motions of individual parts and the interactions between parts based on their geometry and a few user specified constraints. We then use this information to generate visualizations that incorporate motion arrows, frame sequences and animation to convey the causal chain of motions and mechanical interactions between parts. We present results for a wide variety of assemblies.


Niloy J. Mitra, Yong-Liang Yang, Dong-Ming Yan, Wilmot Li, and Maneesh Agrawala. "Illustrating How Mechanical Assemblies Work". SIGGRAPH 2010, pages 58:1–58:12, July 2010.

Supplemental Material

For further details, please see the project page hosted on the Visualization Lab website at