Find us on Google+ September 2012 ~ Inventor Tales

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Using Model Sketches on a Drawing in Autodesk Inventor

“You can't do sketches enough. Sketch everything and keep your curiosity fresh.”
John Singer Sargent

Last week, I was talking to someone about how to best represent a spot weld in Autodesk Inventor.

The first observation to make is that Inventor has a Weldment environment that provides several tools to help with welding.  It's got a variety of tools.  It can separate the weldment into different sections, the assembled environment, the preparation environment, the welded environment, and finally machined environment.

This is a great tool if a high degree of detail is needed in creating a welded environment.

But what if  just a simple representation is needed?

In the brainstorming session, an idea was brought up.

What about creating a sketch in the assembly, showing the spot welds in the sketch, then showing it on the drawing?

The sketch added to the model

The sketch added to the drawing

I tried it.  It works!  The sketch can be shown, annotations can be added and so on. 

Here are the basic steps:
  1. Create a sketch on the model (part or assembly)
  2. Place the view in a drawing.
  3. Right Click the Assembly in the Drawing Browser
  4. Choose "Get Model Sketches"

And BOOM!  That's it.  It's pretty easy!

So keep this in mind for your designs.  And keep it in mind for any application it can help in.  I used spot welds in this example, but any place a sketch can help, use it! 

Of course, here's a video showing the example I described!

One last thing.  Do you have a place where this workflow helped you out?  Share a comment and let me know!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

An Autodesk Manufacturing Academy Preview video - iParts

“The whole is more than the sum of its parts.”

It's been another busy weekend.  I was busy catching up with family, so I'm afraid no blog was built today. 

However, I have been busy putting a lot of work into KETIV's Autodesk Manufacturing Academy, so as this weeks post, I offer up a preview video for my "Automating Repetitive Designs" session.

This particular video is on the iPart portion of the session

Recall that an iPart is a "table driven part" where a component of shape can be controlled, via parameters.  This makes it much easier to create different sizes, colors, and so on, without recreating the part every time.  The table helps drive that geometry.

A classic example of an iPart, open up the McMaster Carr catalog, and look at any screw you can find.  See that table of values?  iPart!  

So without further delay, here's a video.  Enjoy!

I hope you enjoy, and I hope to see a few of you a the AMA event!

I'll see you in next week's post! 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Off Topic - The Space Shuttle Endeavour

“What is history? An echo of the past in the future; a reflex from the future on the past”
Victor Hugo

It can definitely be said that this post is off topic.  I didn't use Autodesk Inventor, Autodesk Showcase, or anything for this blog.

All I had was the opportunity to see the Space Shuttle Endeavour make her last flight to her final home, The California Science Center.

I couldn't resist.  This would be the last time that I could see a space shuttle in the air, even if it was riding piggy back on a Boeing 747.

A few of us from the office headed a few miles down the road to Anaheim, and saw the 747 carrying Endeavour on it's fly by of Disneyland.

It was impressive on so many levels.  The engineering feat of the 747 carrying Endeavour, the excitement being able to watch history being written. 

And last but not least, a little bit of sadness knowing that this is the end of an era.

So hear are my pictures of "Endeavour's Last Ride".  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did! 

At first it looked like a ghost in the Southern California haze.
But it was very real indeed!

You could feel the excitement in the air.

It was amazing to see it get closer.

And just keep getting bigger.

And bigger!

And become a truly impressive sight!

The chase planes look tiny!

A grand entrance for Endeavour

And she heads away

Her flyby is over.

And a grand space craft heads for her final home.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Backing Up Autodesk Vault - On a Budget

“Back up my hard drive? How do I put it in reverse?”

I would be the first to say that we should all be making backups of our CAD data!

Do you think I follow my own advice?

Pffft!  No! 

Of course I have my excuses!
  1. My CAD Data isn't use for production, so it's not critical.
  2. I work in a highly mobile environment, and everything runs on my laptop.   That means I 'm not connected to a good backup server much of the time
  3. I'm too lazy to take 15 minutes to plug in my portable hard drive and copy my Vault Backup over to the drive. 
  4. The most famous, used by many; (wait for it). "It hasn't failed yet!"
Are these good excuses? 

Pffft! No!  

So if  the The Oatmeal's Famous "Tumbeasts" made an appearance and at my hard drive, I was out of luck.

Try passing this excuse off at work.

One day, I had an epiphany that was worthy of MacGyver.

I implemented it, and thus far it's been working well! 

First I had to take stock of my assets.
  • I already have a script that backs up my Autodesk Vault database and filestore that contains my CAD data. 
  • I have a Dropbox account that has more than enough room to accommodate my current backup
  • At my home, I have an old retired computer that I use as a data server, which also has plenty of room for my Vault database and filestore.
That's enough for me!

I created a new script that moves my backup file to a Dropbox folder.  In turn, that folder syncs up with my online Dropbox account, which is stored in the cloud.

My Vault Backup in my Dropbox Folder

BOOM!  Backup! 

Then, I setup my old data server to sync with my Dropbox account, so now I have a backup at home, as well as on online! 

BOOM!  Redundancy!  

I've been running this system for about a week now, and it's been working pretty well.  I've restored from it once already successfully

But just like everything it's got good and bad. 

First the good!
  • It's a simple and effective backup strategy, especially for the budget minded. 
  • By using Dropbox, I can sync the backup to multiple machines, they just have to be syncing to the Dropbox account.
Now the not so good!
  • Since this is a cloud backup, there needs to be sufficient bandwidth to support uploading and downloading potentially gigabytes of data.
  • Online storage accounts, such as Dropbox, Autodesk 360, and SkyDrive have limited storage capacity (typically a few gigabytes until you purchase more).  So monitoring usage can be important, especially as data gets larger.
Fortunately, my Vault data is about 750MB, so I have more than enough room in my Dropbox account (over 6GB), and I upload across a fiber optic line, so bandwidth isn't an issue for me, so this is effective for me.

In summary, this system probably isn't good for everybody, but for a small environment, with limited resources to purchase hardware and infrastructure, it may be exactly the ticket.

P.S.  I'm sure there are those of you might be wondering why I didn't use my Autodesk 360 account.  The reasons are simple.  I tried my Dropbox account first, and I'm too busy (read too lazy) to switch it over.  I could just as easily have used my Autodesk 360 account!

I hope this is a tip you might be able to use in your own environment!

Have another idea to create a backup like this on a budget, check out the comment section! 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Using an iFeature in Autodesk Inventor - Part 3

“All respect comes from persisting to completion.”
Melissa Lima

At long last!  The final part of my little "iFeatures & Autodesk Inventor" series (at least for now)!

In this final post, I'll discuss taking and iFeature, and driving it via a table.

But first of all, why drive an iFeature with a table?  What does a table do for us?

Well the single biggest reason to use a table driven iFeature is to create is to create a consistent series of choices for features that vary in predictable ways.

An Example of an iFeature Table
For example, lets say there's a mounting hole of three consistent variations.  It may have two different size holes, but the holes all expand in intervals of a given increment (.125 inches for example).

An example of different holes (yes, I know the biggest one is 'too big'
If  a non-table driven iFeature is used, the different diameter holes could be mixed and matched.

The 'standard' iFeature screen
In other words, a "create a combo" situation could arise, and a non-existant hole created.

If a table driven iFeature is used, then the mounting holes can be called out by a specific value, such as an "tool number", and a consistent set of holes can be placed.

Special fields can also be created, so institution specific criteria can be used for selecting an iFeature.  For example, in my video, I use Tool Number.

But enough of the describing! Let's switch to the video, and see how these tables can be used!

And on a final note.... Who knows what an iFeature was called before it was named an iFeature? Hint: it's the reason an iFeature has the file extention "*.ide"!

Monday, September 10, 2012

A KETIV AMA Preview Video - Automating Repetitive Design Tasks

“All the people were nice. They all acted like family and friends.”
James Bush

During this weekend, there was no time to create a video for the blog I was hoping to create. 

It was lost for one of the best reasons a weekend could be lost.  I had friends come from out of town for a visit! 

So this weekend was a blog free weekend (and even a mostly computer free weekend) that was consumed by catching up with life long friends, so part three of my iFeatures blog post will be delayed a bit.

But all is not lost.  Here's a preview of the video series that will accompany the Automate Repetitive Design Tasks session at  Autodesk Manufacturing Academy  on October 10th in Lake Oswego in Oregon, and October 25th in Cerritos, California.  

I hope to see you there!  

And here's the preview for the whole event!  Check it out!

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Using an iFeature in Autodesk Inventor - Part 2

“Ideas are the building blocks of ideas.”
Jason Zebehazy

In my last blog post on iFeatures (see that post here), I extracted and placed an iFeature, but that was all we did at that time.  I did mention that dimensions could be added to the iFeature, but I stated we'd get back to that.

Well, we're back to it!  In this blog (and its video), we'll add dimensions to the iFeature we used in the last blog.

The basic steps for this process are below:

  • Rename Parameters (okay, this isn't strictly necessary, but it makes the process easier, and I recommend it. 

Parameters renamed
HINT!  To rename parameters quickly, edit the feature, and type "Parameter_Name = X.XXX" to rename it in the feature.  This will rename the parameter directly from the feature it drives.

Renaming the parameter in the feature

  • Extract the iFeatures you want.  Note in the image below, the renamed features automatically are made available to the iFeature.

Extracting the iFeature

  • Set any ranges or lists you need

Setting a range
Setting a list
  • Save the iFeature, and you're ready to go! 

Saving the feature

  • Now the feature can be placed, taking advantage of the settings used!
Placing the iFeature.  Notice the list being used.

So that will place the iFeature into the parts you intend to use it in, and now you've seen the steps to create this iFeature.

But it would be an Inventor Tales blog without a video.  So here it is, a video showing the process! 

Have a suggestion on how you might use iFeatures?  Throw a comment!