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Technical Publication Associates, Inc.

Technical Writing, Illustration, Patent Illustration, Basic Web Design, 3D Rendering/Modeling

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Phone: 309-263-8792

Email: tpa@tpaone.com

FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you send your writer(s) to a customer’s location to gather technical information?

  • Yes we do.  We charge for travel time, along with actual travel costs, employee time and expenses while on the job site.
  • All of our writers and illustrators are covered under a 2 million dollar liability insurance policy.
  • We also carry a 2 million dollar errors and omissions policy.

 

Are you able to receive and review a customer’s product at your location?

  • Yes.  Our 5000 sq. ft. building is equipped with a loading dock.
  • We also have access to a fork lift to unload products off a semi-trailer.
  • Our 1000 sq. ft. product service bay is also equipped with a small overhead lifting device.

 

Are you creating documents in the U.S. or are you subcontracting inside or outside the US?

  • All of our documentation is completed by our employees, at our facility, in Morton, Illinois.
  • We do not subcontract for any of our writing or artwork services.
  • Note: For translation services we work closely with a firm that has employees in each of the native language countries.

 

What about confidentiality?

  • The intellectual property and proprietary information of your product is critical and we take that seriously, therefore each of our employees is under a non-disclosure/confidentiality agreement.
  • Some attorneys, agents, and/or inventors are reluctant to turn to a source for high-quality illustrations for fear of the ideas getting into the public domain before the application is filed. With TPA that is not an issue, our company will be happy to sign a non-disclosure agreement. We can either sign your non-disclosure form or we can provide you with ours. Ultimately we want you to feel safe and confident that your idea is in safe and reliable hands.

 

What do I need to provide to TPA for the creation of a technical documentation?

  • For the writing side, specifications of the product, operating procedures, and maintenance requirements.
  • Where applicable and as needed, we will send our writers to your location for the gathering of technical information and to work with your subject matter experts and engineers.
  • For the illustration side, see our FAQ’s on illustrations.
  • For photos, see our FAQ’s on photography.
  • For the CAD side, see our FAQ’s on CAD modeling.

 

What areas of expertise do your writers have?

  • All of our writers are specialized in mechanical and hydraulic documentation.
  • We are, however, able to work closely with a company’s subject matter expert to obtain the information we need in areas where we do not specialize such as electrical or electronics.

 

Do you optimize the final electronic PDF document (to minimize the size of the document)?

  • Yes, we provide both a high-quality print ready file and a low resolution web-based file.

 

Do we need to provide you with a layout/style template?

  • Not necessarily, if you have an InDesign template, we can work with that.  If not, we can match the style of your past or current documentation.

 

Can you create the final document in Microsoft Word 2007 or greater?

  • Yes.  Creating the manual in Microsoft Word 2007 or greater is not a problem.  However on large manuals, twenty pages or more, this is not generally recommended.
  • Our preferred and most efficient method of producing manuals is with Adobe InDesign.

 

Are you able to produce documents using ATA 100 standards?

  • Yes.  We can also adapt to a variety of other standards and style preferences depending on our clients’ needs.

 

What is XML?

  • XML is a text-based format that allows for the structuring of electronic documents. The XML standard is a flexible way to create information formats and electronically share structured data. It allows designers to create their own customized tags, enabling the definition, transmission, validation, and interpretation of data between applications and between organizations.

 

What are TPA’s XML capabilities?

  • TPA can assist with the creation of new content and/or the updating of your existing XML content to meet your structured data content needs.

 

What XML software do you use?

  • One advantage of XML is that it is not proprietary to the XML authoring software; it is capable of being managed by any of programs available for handling XML. For our management of XML, we use Arbortext.

 

How do you exchange data and documents (FTP / website)?

  • We use DropBox for many of our clients.
  • We can use a client’s FTP sites, if so desired.
  • We use general email for smaller, non-sensitive documents.

 

What kind of documents do you work with?

1)  Text files:

  • Microsoft Word
  • InDesign
  • PowerPoint
  • QuarkXPress
  • PDF
  • Other standard text formats

2)   Illustration and Photos:

  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • SolidWorks Composer
  • Keyshot

3)   CAD drawings:

  • SolidWorks
  • STP (Step)
  • DXF
  • DWG
  • SLDASM and SLDPRT

  • PRO-E
  • STP (Step)
  • DXF
  • DWG
  • ASM and PRT

 

Do we need to provide you with illustrations?

  • No, our qualified in-house illustrators can create a wide variety of illustrations.
  • Our illustrators are able, in most cases, to match the style of artwork being used in current manuals.
  • Note: Upon request, we can, however use your previously created illustrations.

 

What materials do I need to provide for illustrations?

  • With our extensive experience, we are able to develop drawings from a variety of reference materials including pencil sketches, faxes, engineering blueprints, photographs, and prototypes, and the same holds true for patent illustrations.
  • We have the ability to read and understand engineering prints, but also the flexibility to develop drawings from products that are still in the concept stage.
  • We can also develop illustrations from your existing CAD models or blueprints.

 

What expertise do your illustrators have?

  • Our illustrators are degreed in either illustration or graphic design and, proficient in electronic/digital or traditional illustration.
  • We work with Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, SolidWorks Composer, or KeyShot.
  • Two of our staff members are proficient with SolidWorks CAD software and have strong engineering backgrounds.
  • In terms of patent illustrations, we have over 18 years of experience in the preparation of finished drawings that meet the standards of the U.S. Department of Commerce Patent and Trademark Office.

 

Can photos be used instead of illustrations?

  • Yes, and where applicable our illustrators are capable of simple touch ups as well as serious extensive manipulation of photos as needed.
  • We can import digital photos, or scan traditional photo prints and, whenever feasible, we'll arrange to photograph your components or equipment on-site. We can also use our 1000 square foot service bay in-house, or our special light box/tent for smaller objects and equipment.

 

What is CAD?

  • Computer Aided Design – A 3D computer based design tool used to model a customer’s design. Provides a full, editable visualization of a part or assembly.

 

What are TPA’s CAD capabilities?

  • Our CAD capabilities have continued to expand in response to client needs.  We are equipped with SolidWorks CAD software which offers the ability to create a virtual representation of your product
  • We currently offer extensive capabilities in mechanical design 3D modeling, 2D to 3D conversion, conversion of legacy drawings, and production of mechanical drawings.

 

What do I need to provide to TPA for producing CAD drawings?

  • For CAD modeling, we need enough dimensional data to create the model, and the material it’s made from.  This can be in the form of drawings of older or similar parts, sketches, example parts, even verbal descriptions.
  • For the creation of manufacturing drawings, we also need to know its functional requirements and the processes to be used in manufacture. Our drafts-people will work with your engineers for this process.

 

Do you have an internal quality control of a final document?

  • Yes.  The writer's review and error correction is the first step, followed by a proof reader, and finally a technical editor.

 

How do you manage the review of documents before final approval?

  • We complete an internal review of all material before submitting to the client for their first review.
  • The client receives a PDF review copy to mark up with changes, additions, or corrections.
  • Changes are made as per the client’s review comments.
  • A second PDF review document is sent to client for final review and approval.
  • Any changes to the content after the second review is submitted will be will be submitted for client approval prior to starting the work.

 

How do you track and report the progress of a project?

  • We can provide weekly updates of the estimated percentage of project completion.
  • All work has an assigned project manager, who tracks the progress of a project.
  • On short-term projects weekly updates are generally given by email or direct contact with the client when they ask.

 

How is the cost of a document determined?

  • Generally on a per manual estimate, depending on the amount of reference material provided to us.
  • We can work a per-page basis, if the size of the manual is clearly defined before the project starts.

 

How are changes or additions to an existing manual determined?

  • Primarily on a per-page basis.

 

How is the cost of additional changes, beyond the scope of the original project, determined?

  • Any changes or additions beyond the original scope will be submitted for our client’s approval prior to starting the work.

 

What software do you use for designing websites?

  • We primarily use Adobe Muse; we can and have used Adobe Dreamweaver for minor updates of code.

 

What type of websites do you design?

  • We do basic web design, sites that primarily provide information about your business, location, history, etc.  We do not set up e-commerce sites.

 

What if I have dealers/distributors for my products?

  • We can set up an interface for your website that provides the locations and contact information for any third party business carrying your product.

 

How can I provide sales and/or operational information to potential customers?

  • We can create a database within your site that allows consumers to download PDF copies of your product manuals, sales literature, technical specifications, or any other type of end user documentation.

 

What do I need to provide for the creation of my site?

  • Basic information about your company’s history, mission statement, locations of all facilities, contact information, product specs and information, and any other information that you feel is important to include.
  • In order to keep your site consistent with your current brand and overall look, we will need copies of all your current company and product literature.
  • If you have any social media accounts, such as Twitter, Facebook and/or LinkedIn, we will need the specific URLs for those accounts to link your site to that specific account.
  • If you already have a domain, we will need to know the location and account log-in information so we can upload the content of your website.

 

What if I currently do not have a domain or web-hosting account?

  • This is not an issue; we can help you secure a domain and create your web-hosting account for you.

 

Do you manage social media accounts and content?

  • Yes, we can manage your social accounts for you.  We will need for you to provide the content.

Phone: 309-263-8792

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Email: tpa@tpaone.com

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