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Friday, March 27, 2015

Autodesk Inventor 2016 What's New!

Autodesk seems to have release the what's new information for Inventor 2016!  Thanks to Design and Motion and InventorTopix for sharing the info! 

This represents the excitement I feel come release time.
(Image courtesy of theoatmeal.com)


There are some cool features I can't wait to get into!

Since Design and Motion and InventorTopix did all the hard work, I won't steal the credit that should be theirs by cutting and pasting. 

You can find the information for the posts at Design and Motion here, and InventorTopix here! 

Thanks to them for sharing! 



Thursday, March 26, 2015

KETIV Introduces the Autodesk Vault "DIY Kit"

I think Autodesk Vault is a great tool.  I've use in in my personal "just joy of CAD" projects, and it's helped me be more effective when working in a production environment.

My Craftsman style coffee table.  It's been in Vault for years. 

Just the ability to go back and retrieve a previous version can be a lifesaver when a mistake is made (not that we ever do that!), or when a design changes, and it's important to retrieve a previous iteration.

But no matter how you slice it, properly installing, configuring, and using Vault effectively takes time, and planning.

And even thought "a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step", the fast paced world of design can sometimes keep us dancing and we never take that all important first step.

In light of that reality, my colleagues at KETIV decided to "give you a lift", if you forgive me continuing the pun, and introduced a "Do it Yourself" kit for getting started with Vault.

Based on Vault Basic 2015, the DIY kit includes everything you need to get started with Autodesk Vault.

It includes videos to help you understand the components that form the framework of Vault, as well as describe the installation and basic functions of Vault.

It even gives you access to a Vault backup including sample data and preconfigured users and roles to get you started on the journey.

A screen capture from the Autodesk "Vault DIY Kit".


So if your interested in starting your journey, but weren't quite sure if you were ready to take that first step, here's the link to to the KETIV DIY Vault kit to get you started.

Maybe the thousand mile journey starts with a single step, but nobody said that the first step couldn't be into a classy ride with air conditioning, a comfortable ride, and a sweet sound system!


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Case for Using Adaptivity in Autodesk Inventor

Back when I started working with Inventor, Adaptivity was all the rage.  It was shown in every training class, seminar, and demo I ever attended.

But as new tools come out, old ones fade into memory.  But just because a tool has some mileage on it, it doesn't mean that it's become less useful.

And so, I go back in time to revisit adaptivity, and more importantly, a case where adaptivity was exactly the tool that I needed, when I needed it.

What is adaptivity?

This is what the Autodesk Help system states, at least in part:  "Adaptive parts and geometry have under-constrained features, and adjust to design changes."

In other words, an adaptive components are "squishy", and have flexibility to change based on the changes in other geometry.

A more compelling question for those using Inventor in their trade is "Where would I use adaptivity?"

Here, the Autodesk help system sums things up nicely.

In general, use an adaptive model:

  • When an assembly design that is not fully defined requires a part or subassembly in a particular position, but you do not know its final size.
  • When the position or size of a feature depends upon the position or size of a feature on another part in the assembly.
Drawing from the second bullet, I decided to share a case where adaptivity proved very useful to me, in hopes that it can give you some food for thought when you sit down at your Inventor station and hit that power button to start your day. 

The case I have is for a wood shop project I designed a few years ago now.  

The project is a blanket chest that I modeled in Inventor a few years ago,  

The blanket chest



Part of that design includes a design feature, sometimes referred to as a "cloudlift" at the base of the part that can be cut using a jig to guide the router cutting them. 

Isolating the part with the cloudlift. 

And that's the challenge, how could the shape be quickly transferred from the part being made, to the tool making it?  Sure, we could use the measure tool to and start transferring lines and arcs, but that's not efficient at all. 

So here's a solution!  I've built the jig to accommodate the part, all it needs is the cutout for the router to follow.



Now it's time to create the mating cutout.  First, edit the jig base and create a sketch where it's needed.

The new sketch is ready to go! 
Before projecting, here's a suggestion to make sure you're picking the correct edges,  Go to the view tab, and expand out the Appearance panel on the View ribbon.  Turn of transparency so the components that aren't currently being edited are solid.  It will make them easier to see in this case.

Editing the part with transparency turned off.

Now that we can see what we're doing, just use the Project Geometry to project the profile from the cloudlift on the part onto the jig.  

The sketch and part become adaptive by default.  

Projecting the geometry from the profile.
Note the adaptivity symbol in the browser. 

Now one more step.  In order to make sure the profile is closed, connect the open ends of the profile with a line.  


Once the loop is closed, extrude just like any other sketch. 



And now the jig contains exact profile from the part it's making!

But why go through this trouble?  What's the benefit/

For this application, the benefit is pretty simple.  If the cloudlift changes in size, the jig making it can change without the user having to make sure to size the mating part again.  And that can be a time saver if the part is in a fluid sate of design. 

First, the size of the driving part, the cloudlift profile is created.

The part sizes are changed.


After finishing the edit, the jig, being adaptive, will match the size without user interaction! 

After finishing the edit the jig resizes.

So there we are, all done!  A case where adaptivity was the perfect tool for the job.

But before you Inventor power users light up the comment section, I'll speak to the fact that you don't get something for nothing.  

There is a price to be paid for using adaptivity.


  1. It will drive calculation times up.  Every time you update an assembly where adaptivity may be changing, Inventor is going to check to see if the adaptive parts need to update.  You may not notice it at first, but as the assembly gets larger and/or more adaptivity is used, performance can get seriously impacted. 
  2. Parts can update without user interaction.  That's right, one of adaptivity's biggest strengths can be its biggest drawback.  A part can update automatically.  Sometimes updating in such a way that it no longer functions.  If it happens without you realizing it, then you have a big problem. 
    1. As a result, it's a common practice to turn off adaptivity once the design begins to solidify.   Right click on the component in the browser and uncheck "Adaptive". The part won't update automatically until you turn it back on. 
Turning off adaptivity.
In conclusion, Adaptivity can be a tool that can be extremely useful, but like any tool, one needs to know how, and where to use it.  While it's not the solution for every situation, when properly used, it can be a fantastic way to augment your designs. 

I'm afraid there's no video this time around!  I've been in a big time crunch the last couple of weeks, but I'm hoping to add in the next couple of weeks!  



Saturday, March 07, 2015

Using Copy Properties to Quickly Update Dimensions in Autodesk Inventor

The last few weeks have been comprised of Inventor drawings, comprised of even more drawings for me.

Part of that process included a lot of changing of decimal precision.

A common practice to change precision is to select the desired dimension and choose the dimension style from the format portion of the annotation tab.

Changing dimension style from the annotation tab.
This process works great, but if there's a lot of dimensions, it can get old fast.

Fortunately, there is an alternative to "sucking it up and dealing with it".

The tool is Copy Properties, and it does what it claims, it copies the properties of one dimension, and pastes them to as many other dimensions as you need.

To use this tool, start by right clicking on the dimension that has the formatting you want, and choose the Copy Properties tool.  

Using the properties of a source dimension.
If you  select the dimensions you want to copy the properties to, all the properties are copied.  That includes the tolerances, the style, even the text the text that accompanied the text

.
Pasting properties from one dimension, to another.

So before you select the target dimension, right click and choose Settings while Copy Properties is active.

Locating settings by right clicking while the tool is active.
This gives you an opportunity to choose what properties you want to copy from the source dimension.

The settings screen. 


Once you have the settings where you want them, choose the dimensions you want to transfer the settings to by clicking on them, and those properties are transferred!

You can pick individual dimensions, or even pick using a window!


Once you're done, just right click and choose Done, or hit escape to exit the tool.

Give it a try!

And check out the KETIV YouTube video  below to see it in action!