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Thursday, October 12, 2017

I Can't Select Threads in Autodesk Inventor! - An Old Nemesis Rears its Head!

My threads! They don't work! 
Earlier this week, I noticed that I couldn't select threads in my installation of Autodesk Inventor 2015.  Knowing the solution, I shrugged, fixed it, and went about my day. 

I just chalked the incident up to a fluke.  You know, just "one of those things".

If you want to jump straight to the solution, here it is from my post about 3 years ago!  Fix your Inventor! 

But today, I stroll into work, and find out that several of our machines can't place threads, so I spend a chunk of my morning fixing machines, and making videos showing others how to fix their machines.

We'll, it seems there's something more to that.  The word on the street is that a Windows update to Windows 7 and Windows 10 caused the issue. It affects Inventor versions 2016 and earlier.

It makes sense to me!  Too many machines were knocked out at once! 

Thankfully, the fix is easy once you know how! 

Good luck!


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Expanding My Comfort Zone in a Composites Workshop

This weekend I spent time away from the computer and got my hands sticky at an Experimental Aircraft Association Workshop on composite  construction.

A few of the supplies for our class.
These are the tools of the composites trade.
It was a lot of work, and it took most of my weekend.  But I learned so many things from it.  I learned from the instructor, from my fellow students, and I learned when I a step in my project went right, and I learned more when a step in the project went wrong!

The class started out with the necessary lecture on the basics of what composites were, and the basics of their construction.  That was followed by a description of our first project, a basic layup of a plate.

Several plates curing under vacuum

My finished plate, awaiting trimming.


In that project, we practiced laying up fiberglass over a foam core, carefully smoothing resin over the glass so not to disturb the direction of the weave.  The instructor took time to point out, "the weave is the strength of any composite.  If you disturb it during layup, the strength of the final product can be lost."

A video showing the hot wire method of cutting foam


My finished project
We also made a sample fairing by laying fiberglass over a form.   In involved using modeling clay to make a radius and laying fiberglass over the form.

My form for the fairing.
If you look carefully, you can see the fiberglass on the form.
Each project required finishing and trimming.  We mixed micro-balloons and cotton flock with resin to finish edges and fill voids.

My plate from my previous project.
The edges are filled with a resin mixed with micro-balloons


I even saw forms and clamps that had been 3D printed!  I would have thought the resin would have destroyed the printed plastic, but apparently it holds up just fine!
A 3D printed form for a NACA duct!
Who'd have thought.

Who would have thought that!  I go to learn a little about composites, and end up learning something I didn't know about 3D printing!

So what is the point of all this?  Sure, I could go on and tell you that this class was amazing and turned me into an expert in a matter of days.

But that would be a bold faced lie.  I'm no expert, I know just enough to get started.  My parts are barely even passable.  I wouldn't trust them in a real world application.

My three projects,.  From left to right: the Tee, made from a plate, fiberglass over a foam core
and a fairing made over a form.

But they taught me that I can learn, and I can do better the next time and to go out there and take a step beyond the line that represents the boundary of your comfort zone.  And that was the goal of the class!

And mostly, don't be afraid to try new things!  You never know what you might learn! 

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Great Resource for Designing with O-Rings

Busy times at work and home have kept me from doing much work with Fusion 360, as I've been splitting my time between a couple of long days at work, and doing a little reading on aircraft electricity for an upcoming test.

An example of an O-ring
The rendering was created in Fusion 360
But while I've been busy working and studying, I did have find myself visiting a nice little design aid I've used in the past.

In my past design work, I've had design O-ring grooves, also called, glands.

It wasn't something I did often.  As a matter of fact, it always seemed I had to design a gland right after the information I had learned had faded into the fog of time.

The process I've typically encountered for designing a shaft and bore for an O-ring involved finding the approximate size for the components to be sealed, then selecting an appropriate O-ring, then sizing the shaft, bore, and groove that would work for the design.

All this was done by referencing the design data, adjusting the dimensions, and double checking again.

It wasn't difficult, but it was tedious and time consuming.

The shortcuts to
the tools are on
the homepage

But recently when I revisited a little O-ring design, a lucky Google search led me to a website run by Apple Rubber, a seal supplier in the United States.  The panel on the right of the home page is noteworthy.   It's on that portion of the homepage you'll find the links I took the time to write about.

Apple Rubber has provided some helpful resources to design O-ring geometry, as well as choose the right material for the medium and temperature range the O-ring will operate in.

The biggest thing I used it for was their O-ring Calculator, which helps size O-Ring glands for proper size and compression of the O-Ring.  You can find that link here.

The O-Ring Calculator has provisions for standard and custom O-rings, as well as Imperial and Metric O-Ring sizes. So in short, it covers the situations the typical user will encounter.

But the page doesn't stop at an O-Ring calculator alone, and even if it did, that would be enough.


There's also a Chemical Compatibility Guide, and a Seal Design Guide.  Both of these pages are well worth saving to your browser history!

If you've worked with O-Rings before, you probably know that an O-Ring that will provide a long happy life sealing one fluid may be quickly destroyed in another medium.

The Chemical Guide allows a user to quickly choose a medium that a seal will encounter, and then tells you how materials may be expected to hold up using a "Good/Bad" type of scale.

The Chemical Design Guide using Hydrazine as an example
The Seal Design Guide is a handbook on designing for seals, and it's certainly one of the books I wish I had back when I was in  college

The cover off the Seal Design Guide.
It's available as a PDF!
So give this website a try if you're looking to design, or just want to learn about designing for O-Rings, I'll certainly be using it again myself!

And on that last note, just like my previous post on Coast Fabrication, I'm not getting compensated in any way for sharing this information.  I just like the site enough that I think it's worth sharing!


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Coast Fabrication - A Great Source for Fastener Information!

A sample of a Hydraulic coupling rendered in Fusion 360
In this post, I'm actually taking a step back from directly talking about a design tool.  Instead, I'm sharing a little info on where I get the information to put my design tools

At work, one of my tasks is creating and maintaining Autodesk Inventor Content of aerospace fasteners.

And trust me, there are a lot of these fasteners around!

They can be referred to as AN (Army/Navy), MS (Mil Spec), NAS or NASM (National Aerospace Standard), and AS (SAE Aerospace).   And I'm sure I've missed a standard or two somewhere! 

That means a lot searching databases, reading charts, and sifting through a lot of tables!  

Of course that begs a big question?  Where can this data be found?  

Admittedly, it can be quite a safari.  I'm fortunate that my place of employment maintains a resource for the data.  

But not all of us have that luxury.  That means a lot of hunting around, trying to find the data we need.  

One resource I found that has been a enormous help has been the technical resource page from Coast Fabrication in Huntington Beach, California

More than once I've used their technical page as a quick reference for a fastener I'm using, sometimes for work but other times for personal use.  

This is just a section of the Coast Fabrication Technical page


The reason I shared this site is because I know that there are many times users need this information.  It might be to create a library of helical inserts for work, or a quick model of a hydraulic fitting for a personal project, this is a sight that is well worth the reference!

Of course, a blog post like this wouldn't be a blog post if I didn't have a disclaimer.  I'm not paid by Coast Fabrication.  I've never even visited their shop even though their only about 10 miles away from me. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure they don't even know I exist.  

But that's okay!  They've provided a great resource worthy of sharing, and I'm happy to help Karma return some of their goodwill!  So take a look if you're in the need for fastener specs.