This paper presents a method to design high-quality 3D equipment for virtual laboratories. A virtual control laboratory is designed on large-scale educational purpose with merits of saving expenses for universities and can provide more opportunities for students. The proposed laboratory with more than thirty virtual instruments aims at offering students convenient experiment as well as an extensible framework for experiments in a collaborative way. hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) simulations with realistic 3D animations can be an efficient and safe way for verification of control algorithms. Advanced 3D technologies are adopted to achieve convincing performance. In addition, accurate mechanical movements are designed for virtual devices using real-time data from hardware-based simulations. Many virtual devices were created using this method and tested through experiments to show the efficacy. This method is also suitable for other virtual applications. The system has been applied to a creative automatic control experiment course in the Harbin Institute of Technology. The assessment and student survey shows that the system is effective in student's learning.