Friday, October 30, 2009

Tricks of the Trade, a Tip on Orbiting in Inventor

“One only needs two tools in life: WD-40 to make things go, and duct tape to make them stop.” G. Weilacher

With only about an hour before 'All Hallows Eve', here's one little trick that Rick Renda of KETIV shared today. Consider it an early 'Trick that's also a Treat'.

If you want to perform an orbit function in Inventor, there's always the icon for it, which most of us all know.

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What isn't as well known, is that the 'F4' key can also perform the orbit function as well. But even then, this is fairly well known.

The trick that Rick shared, was that you can hold down your 'Shift' key while holding down the middle mouse button, and also access the orbit function!

We'll I'll be darned! I never knew that one!

Thanks Rick!

And Happy Halloween!

It's just a flesh wound!
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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Autodesk Subscription Advantage Packs Available

“Start where you are. Distant fields always look greener, but opportunity lies right where you are. Take advantage of every opportunity of service.”

Robert Collier (American motivational author, 1885-1950)

First the 'disclaimer'. The info I'm going to talk about this time is for those on Autodesk Subscription only. Apologies to the guys who aren't on subscription. I'll owe you a post!

So that's it for disclaimer, on to the info.

Like the title implies, the Autodesk Subscription Packs are out on the subscription site HERE.

You'll need your subscription login. If you don't have it, your local friendly neighborhood reseller should be able to help you out.

So what do they bring to the table for the Inventor user? It depends on the product, but for Inventor, here's what you get.

* DWG Block Browser—Browse for your AutoCAD Blocks and put them into Inventor files!

(Click to Enlarge)

* Chain Dimensioning— Tools to make creating chain style dimensions easier

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* Multi-View Create—Create multiple views simultaneously. (this is my personal favorite!)

* Architectural View Scale— Architectural scales are now available in fabrication templates

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They've also added the following tools into Simulation. I'll confess that I haven't had a chance to even touch these yet, but I'm hoping to take a look soon!

* Materials Assignment for Simulation—Multi-select materials in simulation. It makes it easier to change them (you use to have to do it one at a time)

* Editable Simulation Reports—Output simulation results to a single file for editing. Just makes this a little easier.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Autodesk Manufacturing Academy. That's a Wrap!

“The riders in a race do not stop when they reach the goal. There is a little finishing canter before coming to a standstill. There is time to hear the kind voices of friends and say to oneself, 'The work is done.'”

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr

This time last week, we held Autodesk Manufacturing Academy. It was challenging, exciting, and yes, at times quite frustrating as I wondered if I'd be ready in time.

Ultimately, things fell into place, and it was a great event.

For myself, it's always great seeing all the Autodesk users that I've spoken to over the phone and e-mail, and seen how they've approached the challenges that they've faced over the course of the years.

It's also rewarding to know that I may have helped in my own, albeit small, part.

And even though I'm there to 'help them use their software more efficiently', I always learn something from them too. It's a two way street that I'm always grateful for.

So once again, I was thrilled to do it, I have a brain full of new thoughts, ideas, and concepts that I can use for next year!

And for all those who attended, thanks!

Checking in
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My 'kit' as we kick off
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The Welcome Speech
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Lunch, a must have at any engineering event.
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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What is this 'sleep' you speak of?

“Sleep is like the unicorn - it is rumored to exist, but I doubt I will see any”

Sleep Quotes

So with Autodesk Manufacturing Academy (AMA) on the horizon, I can say that I haven't had hardly any time to breath, let alone blog, but I did want to give a mention that I do have some blogs and videos in mind.

In the time between blogs, I've learned a bunch of cool stuff with Camtasia, not to mention dabbling in Autodesk Revit, and immersing myself in Inventor during all my waking hours!

I'm learning a ton of great stuff, but it's definitely put a crimp on my 'playing with the software for fun' time.

But I'm getting excited about AMA, getting to see some of the people I've spoken to over the phone, and maybe 'geek' out a little with some of the CAD tinkerers.

So stay tuned, once AMA passes, I'll post some pictures, and get back to blogging some tech tips on some of the cool things I know I'm going to learn!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

A Case for Assembly Level Features.

“Greatness is a by-product of usefulness”

Greatness quotes

Before going into the 'gory details' of the subject, what is an assembly level feature?

An assembly level feature is a cut that's made into components at the assembly level, after they've been put together. At the part level, no cut appears. The cut only appears at the assembly, and only at that level.

A question I'm sometimes asked, is 'why would I want to place a cut only in the assembly, and not down at the part level?'

The cheeky answer is you may not. It's a tool, that much like a pair of safety wire pliers, may not be useful to anyone but those who truly need it.

Safety Wire Pliers
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However, here's the example that taught me the place where an assembly level feature can be very useful.

I was building a night stand for a woodshop class I was taking, and naturally, since I had access to Inventor, I used it. But part of the design encountered a challenge, although not a difficult problem to overcome.

The side of the table was 24 inches wide, and about 30 inches tall. Now if you're using lumber (not plywood), it's nearly impossible to find a board that size, and of you can find it, it's going to be expensive.

A more realistic solution is to use a 'glue up' take smaller boards, and glue them up to create the board you need.

Boards to be 'Glued up'
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But there are slots that need to be cut in the side that will hold the rails for the drawers, floor, top, etc.

These slots will all run through three of the four boards. This is where we run into the beginnings of our challenge.

1) The boards are the same, with the exception of the slots, they would come out of sizing (jointer and planer) the exact same shape.

2) Why wouldn't I cut these slots separately and try to join them later? It's nearly impossible to get them to line up, and even if I could, it would take so much work, it wouldn't be worth it.

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So the result is to cut the feature after the boards have been glued up, using a simple jig to guide to tool. But how to I represent it correctly in Inventor?

I could 'fake it' (and in the old days we did), by cutting the features at the part level, but one of the parts has a blind slot. That would mean creating two distinct parts (three with the through slot, and one with the blind slot).

That translates into an inaccurate Bill of Materials, since the parts have the slots cut after their assembled. In effect, the blanks are the same.

So that's where the assembly level features can make a lot of sense. You can cut the slots at the assembly level, where they should be, and still have a nice, accurate bill of materials that reflect the materials you need to buy and prepare.

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So you may never need them, like that pair of safety wire pliers. But just because a given user doesn't find a tool useful, it doesn't mean it doesn't have a purpose If you do need them, they can be a critical tool that is indispensable it its usefulness. Just like the mechanic that needs those pliers.

And if you're wondering what those pliers are used for? It's used to twist wire through bolts and prevent them from vibrating and falling out in racing and aviation applications. It also ensures that the bolt has been checked for proper torque (the bolt should be checked before it's wired).

So even though we don't personally use it, the mechanics fixing the commercial aireliner we may fly on are!

An example of safety wire on an older airplane.
But it's still used today.
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Happy inventing!