Find us on Google+ May 2016 ~ Inventor Tales

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Life with Fusion 360 - Copying and Pasting Components in Assemblies

My adventures diving into Fusion 360 continue.

As I've been adventuring into assemblies this week.  I chose a simple wooden table for my project.

The wooden table.  A work in progress.
I chose the project not for the modeling challenge, but as an opportunity to go through the process of building assembling, and documenting.

One of the first things that I encountered was the need to duplicate a part. That including creating a copy of the same part (a new instance), as well as creating a copy of a part in order to create a similar part.

I was pretty thrilled to find out that it wasn't difficult at all.

In my example, I'm going to duplicate the table legs.

To make the process simpler, the process of copying parts are nearly identical whether your creating a copy of an existing component, or using that component as the starting point for a new part.

To start the process, right click on the desired part and choose Copy.

Copying the component.

With the part copied, now it's time to paste the new component.  This is accomplished by right clicking in the modeling screen and choosing paste.

But there are two options.  Paste, and Paste New.

You may have already guessed that Paste will create a second instance of the component.  That is, and exact copy of  the existing component that will change with it's siblings.

However Paste New will create a new part, based on the old one, but it's entirely independent from the component it was spawned from.

But one of the other neat tools to check out are the handles that let you orient the part immediately after the component has been pasted into your design.

You can use the arrows for linear translations, the squares for planar translations, and the arcs for angular rotations.

Give them all a try!

Handles make it easy to position your parts
  There's also the option of typing in distances if you like.

The part after being moved.
Regardless, you can get the part positioned where you'd like.

All that's left to do now is right click and click OK, and then follow it up with precise positioning by joints later!

Hit OK to complete the move.
So that's it for the tonight.  My adventures in Fusion continue.  The deeper I go, the more I like its flexibility.

But there's still a lot more for me to learn, and I'll be sharing that as I go!  Stay tuned!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Fusion 360 as a Viewer - Another Step in the Learning Experience

If you've spent any time at all looking into Fusion 360 you'll likely hear "the data is stored in the cloud" touted as one of it's big advantages.  

And it really is an advantage!  Here's one case that I've found where Fusion has helped augment Autodesk Inventor, but that's just the beginning!

Here's the end in mind!
What's the Scenario?

I was attending a design review for a small assembly, I may not be able to bring in my laptop, IT may not be able to install Inventor or Vault in time.

In other words, I may be on my own.  Time to think of a backup plan.  

Since I started out this post discussion Fusion 360, you may safely assume that Fusion 360 is part of the solution, and indeed it was.  

I also used A360 as a key part of my solution too. And that's where this story starts.

In short, I used Fusion 360 as my viewer. It was similar  to Inventor and I was comfortable using it. On top of that, the Fusion client is much simpler to install than Inventor, and can be done much more quickly.

Here are the steps I used to "get there from here".  In the interests of full disclosure, I'm using a sample file because the original file is proprietary.  Sorry, no peeks to that!

Here we go!

The first thing was to upload my assembly into A360 Drive.  Make sure to use the Assembly option under the Upload button.

Uploading into A360
Once that was done, browse to the folder containing the top level assembly, in this case, Engine MKII.

After hitting OK, there will be a few more questions to answer, the biggest one is which file is your actual parent file.  In this case, it's going to be Engine MKII.iam.

Choosing the parent file.  It's listed among it's candidates.

With the parent assembly selected, hit the Upload button, and the upload process will begin.

Ready to go! 

Now, the process of uploading to A360 will begin.  After a few moment, you'll get the indication that the assembly has been uploaded.

Time to Call Fusion 360

Now it's time to browse to the location you saved the file.  When you find the assembly, right click on it, and choose Create Fusion Design.

Creating a Fusion Design
Now, the converting process begins.

The upload is running

Give it a little time, and the conversion is completed.

And we're done! 
Make sure to refresh your project, and the newly created Fusion Design will appear.

The design is converted!

All that's left to do now, is double click on the file and you're ready to go with your new Fusion Design!

It's now ready to go in Fusion 360!

So what I ended up with was a quick way to use my design, without a heavy client install.  If necessary, I could even use the machine that was kept in the conference room!

I could navigate and control the visibility of parts.  Everything I needed at the time.

It was a great option that relieved a lot of stress.

Did you have any challenges uploading the file into Fusion?

I sure did!  I had some challenges loading the hardware, which was a combination of Inventor Content Center and iParts.  It wouldn't upload until I put it in the same folder as the components.

I don't know exactly why this is, but I'm going to poke around a bit more and see what I can find out.

Some of you may have a few questions on why I choose this direction.  Here are some answers to some questions you might be thinking of asking. 

Why didn't you use A360 as your viewer? 

I absolutely could have.   But I wasn't familiar with A360, so I made a decision to go with what I know.  Fusion worked great, but I know I can use A360 in the future.

Why didn't you use Project Leopard

Just like above, I knew it was an option, but I had less that 24 hours to make my decision, and very little experience with Project Leopard.  So I chose the path I knew.  Will I consider it the future?  Absolutely!

Did you use any of the review tools in Fusion 360?  

No.  I didn't.  And it's not because the tools don't work.  In truth, I haven't had a chance to try them yet.  The scenario simply didn't suit those tools.  But these tools do have my interest, and I'm looking for the opportunity to explore them!

And that's a wrap for this post... A little bit of what I've learned, and a few things to try in the future.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Importing McMaster-Carr Models into Fusion 360

Most of us American based engineers have used, or are at least aware of, McMaster-Carr. 

If you haven't heard of them, they are a one stop shop for everything from nuts and bolts to urinals, and just about everything in between.

And not only can you get just about anything, you can get it as quickly as the same day!  

McMaster-Carr has saved the day, on the same day, more than once for me!

Now if you're a "well seasoned" engineer, such as myself, you might remember when the only way to look at McMaster-Carr's selection was a big yellow book that guaranteed about 50% odds of muscle sprain when lifting from the shelf to the desk.

Then you had to pick up a phone, which was most likely wired to the wall, and talk to a human being.
That was the state of the art of 1998.

The McMaster-Carr catalog.   Engineering resource,
workout implement, and potential zombie apocalypse weapon. 
Then, in the 1990s, we began becoming aware of this thing called the internet, and McMaster-Carr got a website.

Engineers everywhere rejoiced.  Now there was no risk of physical injury, and we could order the parts we needed while still tanning by the light of our old cathode ray tube monitors.

A screen capture from the McMaster-Carr page

Now engineers could spend money on expensive mechanical gadgets faster and more efficiently!  And many parts had models that could be downloaded and imported into your CAD models!

A page showing the download page
They've even recently come up with an app for Android and iPhone, that lets you purchase your items using your mobile device.

The McMaster-Carr Online App

It's perfect for us introvert engineers that don't feel like talking to people!

So where is this all going?

Earlier this week, I attended an Autodesk Fusion 360 event at Hollywood 3D Printing, where I got to meet, other Fusion 360 users, and see how those users are using the new technology.

And while there were many interesting things, one feature caught my eye.

A direct link to McMaster-Carr right inside of Fusion 360.

Here's how it works.  I'm using a simple example of an oil pressure relief valve that I was modeling for a little Fusion 360 practice.  I've modeled a body that would represent the engine case, as well as the poppet in red.

The oil relief valve model in Fusion 360

But I need two things, a spring, and a set screw to hold the spring in.  Instead of creating models, I'm going to insert them from McMaster-Carr.

Here we go!

First locate Insert McMaster-Carr Component Component from Fusion 360's Insert Menu.

Locating the shortcut to McMaster-Carr.

When you choose that option, Fusion 360 will open the McMaster-Carr website.  But the key is it will open inside of Fusion 360!

The McMaster-Carr catalog in Fusion 360
Now it's just a matter of finding what you want, choosing the CAD icon, and downloading the model.

Choosing a CAD model from the catalog. 

But the key is that it downloads right into Fusion 360!

Saving the model to insert into Fusion 360

Choosing the Save will insert the model directly into the Fusion 360 model without having to downloading to a location and import, like we've had to do in the past.

Inserting the set screw
Now the model can be inserted and constrained like any component.

Just add the spring, and the model is done!   By using the catalog from McMaster-Carr, the parts I can quickly import parts that I know I can order!

What's another bonus?  When you create a bill of materials, you get the part numbers, as well as the descriptions for those parts.  That means no retyping of component descriptions and reduced risk of making a mistake.

So if you're using Fusion 360, or thinking about it, take a look at this functionality.  I think it's one you'll find is well worth it.

And I'd also encourage you to take a moment to think how far technology has come.  It was less than 20 years ago that I was writing down numbers out of a catalog, calling an operator at McMaster-Carr, and reciting numbers over the phone.

This was done after I built my own 3D models in Mechanical Desktop, because McMaster-Carr didn't have any for me to download

Now, it can be inserted directly into your 3D with models from the McMaster-Carr website, where part numbers and descriptions automatically populate your bill of materials, and ordered via the website.

How far we've come in a very short time.

And if you'd like to see a few pictures I took at the Fusion 360 event, check out this link!

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Learning Fusion 360 - Building a 20 Sided Die

Many, many moons ago, a friend of mine asked me to model dice for a local gaming store, Dicehouse Games.  The trickiest of these was the 20 sided die, like I have pictured here.

Feel free to check out that post here,  I'm going to focus on my Fusion 360 experience here.  I found the steps were actually very similar.

Consider it a little bit of a musing about how my previous experience in Inventor compared to creating the die in Fusion 360.

The initial steps were the same, I created three rectangle on the XY, XZ, and YZ planes with a ratio of 1:1.618.  Just like before, I referenced this Wikipedia article here.

You may hear these referred to as the "Golden Rectangle".

The very skeleton of the 20 sided die.  The golden rectangles with a ratio of 1:1.618

Next, came the "how does Fusion 360 do it?" moment.  That meant building some workplanes using the "Plane Through Three Points" tool, and creating a sketch on that workplane.

I sketched three lines, using the three points of the rectangles as shown below.

The three point workplane with a sketch created on it.  One of the "Golden Rectangles has its visibility turned off to reduce "cluttter". 
To keep my process as simple as possible, I also created a boundary patch from the triangle.  It makes it easier to use turn off the visibility of these objects when things get a little cluttered.

The same model, with the boundary  patch added. 

Now there's a lot of "rinse and repeat" type of steps.  More 3 point workplanes, more sketches, and more lines defining triangles.

More boundary patches begin to define the "skin' of the die. 
But as I added more patches, I realized I could tweak my process a little bit, and make the operation go a little more easily.

I realized, I had enough patches where instead of using the Plane Through Three Points Workplane tool, I could use the "Plane Through 2 Edges Tool".  This was because I now had adjacent patch edges I could use to help me .

Fewer picks, faster process.

Once you have a few patches created, you can make better progress! 

There was more repeating of the now modified steps.  More sketches, more patches, until at long last, I had a complete skeleton of the die made with workplanes, surfaces, and boundary patches.

The die skinned with twenty different patches. 
Now what's left to do is to to make a solid out of it, using the "Stitch" tool.   This seals the 20 surfaces into a solid.  I now have a twenty sided solid!

The now stitched die!  Note I changed my background color to make the now solid die a little more clear. 

After this, comes the long process of adding numbers.  This will take a while.  There's no real getting around that.

Sketching in text.  Fusion 360's drag and rotation tools really helped this process. 
There was a lot of sketch, extrusion, sketch extrusion, going on here.  But finally the whole die was modeled!

Now, I added a little color.  I had experimented with orange, but went for red this time.

Dragging color onto the die using the render environment. 

After quite a bit of dragging, the colors are all done!

After adding fillets to smooth the rough edges, and the die is done!

The die completed! 
So after that exercise, what did I learn, and like about this exercise?

1) Neat little workflow in sketching! 
When you start a sketching tool, and there isn't an active sketch, Fusion will start a sketch for you.  Thanks for the help with that!!

2) Drag and drop. I like it.  That is all. 
Fusion's push pull and rotation tools on the "drag and drop functionality really came in handy.  It was nice to rotate and move text by dragging with the grips.  It made that tedious task go a little faster.

3) Keep an open mind, you might need to try a model a couple of times to get it right.
I started one model, then threw it away when I realized I wasn't making it as efficiently as I could.  I get we can't all do that, but make sure to look for the lessons to improve your flow for the next time.

4) Take the lessons you learned from one program, but don't take them too seriously.
We've all heard the frustrated user say "This program doesn't do it like MYFAVORITECAD!"  Well, no. It's not MYFAVORITE CAD.  Maybe it doesn't better, maybe not.  But at least be open to the changes before you dismiss them!

So my adventures in Fusion 360 continue.  I'm enjoying them, and I'll continue looking for ways to improve my skills set.

And if you'd like to take a look at this model yourself.  Here's a link to download it.  That's right.  Yours for the taking, enjoy!

I'm considering writing some posts describing how I built the die in a little more detail.  If you're interested, feel free to throw in a comment!