I have been an Inventor user for around 12 months and attained the Inventor Certified Professional accreditation. Prior to Inventor, I have used a diverse range of other 3D CAD modelling software’s in various product design roles.
In terms of comparing Inventors 3D modelling capability against other 3D modelling design software’s, it is actually quite difficult. Comparing products on a feature based level is rather pointless as all 3D modelling programmes can in effect accomplish the same outcomes- Inventor shines through due to its interoperability with other products in the Autodesk Product Design & Manufacturing Collection, and its ability to work with a myriad of non-native file formats. This makes the whole design process much more flexible and fluid as users can effectively collaborate with suppliers and other manufacturers without worrying about importing or exporting geometries, the loss of model data, or even if the third party in question is using a different CAD software. I would argue Inventor is best in class at this.
Fusion 360 is a solely cloud based version of Inventor, further improving the products collaborative capabilities. Generative Design within Fusion allows designers to mimic nature’s evolutionary approach to design. Using this new add in, Autodesk Fusion 360 Pro users, are able to input design goals into generative design, along with parameters such as materials, manufacturing methods, and cost constraints.
Using cloud computing, the Fusion 360 explores all the possible permutations of a solution, quickly generating design alternatives. It tests and learns from each iteration what works and what doesn’t. This allows designers to work effectively with both Inventor and Fusion as part of the collection and generate organic and innovative forms that match up to the structural loads required for the application in mind. The way Inventor links with the other Autodesk products as part of the Product Design & Manufacturing Collection is invaluable to designers, and provides a very powerful and intelligent tool for complete 3D digital prototyping and analysis, which far outweighs the capabilities of other standalone CAD programmes on the market today.
Be savvy with your time!
Use iLogic, iParts and parameters to extend the capabilities of models, you shouldn’t be modelling up parts and assembly’s multiple times. It pays to be efficient with time and Inventor is packed with tons of features that will allow you to speed up your workflows and focus on what really matters- design related decisions.
Use the Design Accelerators
Inventor has tools specifically designed to help assist in the generation of tubes, pipes, frameworks, gears and shafts etc. I would advise users to get experience using these and capitalise on the configurators within them to quickly build complex parts without much effort at all.
Combine Inventor with Vault Data Management
Data management is something designers don’t want to spend time, nor should they have too, and I don’t think anyone finds the prospect of it riveting. As part of the iterative design process, designers will inevitably end up making countless changes to their parts, models and drawings, and it can be very difficult to ensure you are working on the latest versions of that file- especially with multiple stakeholders involved at different stages of the project. We have all done it, version 1, version1.1, version1 final, version final, final…. Thankfully Autodesk Vault is the ideal solution for these pains. Vault empowers designers and engineers to organise design data, manage documentation, track revisions and other development processes, all in one location, that’s accessible to everyone in the team at any time.
Use Inventor with Autodesk Viewer
Autodesk Viewer is free and available to download now. It enables you to share design data with team members in your organisation or partners on a project, even if they do not have any Autodesk design software. Autodesk Viewer, works in your web browser, using the power of the cloud. It allows users to view and parts and models in 3D, zoom, orbit pan, create cut through views, check 2D drawings, and make comments or mark designs up.
More of a common sense tip, but we are all guilty at some point of leaving an unconstrained sketch. Take the time to define sketches properly, it helps create solid geometry and will prevent your models from breaking. A major advantage of constraining a sketch fully prior to 3D geometry creation, is that if changes need to be made later on in the design process, a simple tweak to the parent sketch of that feature can be used to facilitate this. If all the sketches in a part are defined they will automatically update subsequent geometry. Combine this with the adaptive modelling technique and whole assemblies can rapidly and automatically update and reflect design changes and alterations, saving designers countless hours from ‘tidying up ‘models.
With sketches in mind, try and keep them simple! I see people trying to fit every aspect of the design in a feature sketch. This is asking for problems. Instead, start with a simple base sketch, create a base feature from it and then build on it. Less is more.
Automatic Bolted Connections
The Bolted Connections Design Accelerator, located in the assembly design ribbon, is pretty nifty. It allows you to auto populate a series of holes, with bolts, washers and nuts from the Content Centre without you having to bring in each component separately and mate/constrain them. It’s also easy to update and make changes to any fasteners you bring in. You can also set the Bolted Connections to pick up feature patterns of holes, which saves users picking each individual hole manually. Handy when you have thousands of holes in a model!
T splines can also be used in Inventor, these allow designers to create smooth, high-quality, organic designs in less time with fewer restrictions than traditional surface modelling tools. You also get a ‘freeform’ set of controls within Inventor which you can use to freely sculpt the shape of your design by moving points, edges and faces.
I take it for granted but the associativity in Inventor makes modelling in it very efficient. Because Inventor operates in a concurrent engineering environment, I have the ability to work on the same model in different modes, part, assembly, drawing, and all of these modes are associative.
Inventor manages non-native data extremely well. It will take near enough any CAD file you throw at it, and maintains geometry and model information exceptionally well. There are even multiple options when it comes to importing in non-native data.
The two overriding options are as follows:
Reference Model-This option maintains a link to the selected file which enables you to monitor and update as the model changes
Convert Model: This option creates new Inventor files which are not linked to the original.
This gives designer’s flexibility as to whether they want the changes made on their new part file to be reflected in the original file.
The new release is fantastic, Autodesk have made some very worthwhile enhancements to the platform and I am already seeing improvements in my own existing workflows.
Significant performance improvements have been made to the programme, and the time taken now to load large assemblies and edit sub-assemblies within them has been reduced even further. These performance upgrades even extend to the time taken to start the programme, and even the time taken to install new versions of the software. Additional productivity enhancements have also been made when placing drawing views, as less time is required to compute and arrange them.
Autodesk continually develops its automation features within Inventor, and iLogic has had its fair share of upgrades in Inventor 2019. iLogic improvements make it easier to create rule code for adding, modifying, and deleting components and constraints. iLogic can now provide suggestions of applicable code and even scan for malicious code, if you are importing existing code.
The improvements to user experience have been improved further in Inventors ‘Model-based definition enhancements’. The Tolerance Advisor, now displays constraint states using a colour code. To view this Click Face Status Colouring in the Tolerance Advisor to turn on the display of colours. You can also now add tolerance notes directly to the 3D geometry of the part and these updates will transcend to the Drawing files.
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