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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Content: Why Reinvent the Wheel when You Can Download it?

One of the Internet's strengths is its ability to help consumers find the right needle in a digital haystack of data. ~Jared Sandberg

Not that long ago, I was talking with a friend at PARTsolutions about finding content on the internet. While much can be done with various search engines, he reminded me that sometimes more quaint forms of communication, such as putting your Blue Tooth headset in your ear and making a cell phone call in the car on the drive home, are still valuable ways of communication.

It was during this conversation that he reminded me that Autodesk has its Manufacturing Supplier Content website available.

Granted, I had heard this before, but somewhere it had fallen behind the file cabinet of my mind and gotten lost.

So I went to the website HERE and took a look.

I did have to create a login, but I went ahead and created one, and took a look.

Enter the beam of light and the choir voices singing...

The image shown in the screen capture greeted my eyes.

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So much content.... It was just so.... pretty... and contenty....

Once I shook off the initial shock. I decided to check out some content. After one aborted attempt, I double checked some settings. This will setup the default format to download.

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With those preferences saved, I went out and chose a component to download. I noticed DeStaco clamps was one of my choices, and I used a grip of DeStaco clamps when I was in industry. So that's who I went with.

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I clicked through a couple of sections, and got to the good ol' toggle clamps that were an ever present part of some of the fixtures I built. I even found a part number that I recall using, complete with preview.

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Once I found the part, I clicked on the Part Download button (which looks like a little Socket Head Cap Screw) and the site built the parts for me to download. The down loadable content will appear in the lower right hand side of the screen, and you can click on the 'disk' icon to download it.

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Once you click on the download icon, you'll be asked to save a zip file to your drive. Extracting the zip and opening the file in Inventor, here's my result.

In a few moments, I have the clamp as an assembly that I can use in a design. It's accurate, and up to date, straight from the source.

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Granted, all the parts are grounded, but I can add the constraints pretty quickly. I even changed the colors of the parts to look a little more realistic.

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If you really want to go wild, you can even add positional representations and create the open and close positions for the clamp.

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The key, I think, is the fact that the geometry (which is the heavy lifting) is already there.

However far you decide to take this. You can (and probably ought to) save it in some sort of library, be it a location on the server, or checking it into Autodesk Vault.

Now your off and running on other components of your design! I know I'll be checking back on this site quite often now!

Happy Wednesday!


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