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SolidWorks 2014 VS. Inventor 2015 Filleting Showdown

SolidWorks 2014 vs Inventor 2015 Fillet dialogI’ve recently been getting stuck into learning some Autodesk CAM products, the most accessible of which are the HSM products. The dominant product of the three available is naturally the one they were all born from, HSMWorks for SolidWorks. There are far more people using that at the moment, than are using Inventor HSM and CAM 360. As a result, since I’m supporting the products in Australia and New Zealand for CADPRO Systems, I really needed to learn a bit about SolidWorks. So it’s been an intense three weeks learning a new CAD platform to a stage where I could hack up models where needed and effectively toolpath with HSMWorks. I’ve really enjoyed it and although I’ve always respected SolidWorks, as I do other mechanical CAD packages, it was nice to finally see what it’s all about on the other side of the trenches. Unsurprisingly it’s a handy set of noughts and ones, which come together to form a pretty handy tool… much like Inventor is.Curvy Part

These two products have a lot of history, each product has its areas of strengths and weaknesses. One product will suit one business better than the other, then it will be the reverse for the next company. So I don’t want to turn this into a ‘mine is bigger than yours’ contest, but as a long standing Inventor user whom respects SolidWorks achievements and well known surfacing capability, this sure did make me smirk.


Section Hatch Update Now Available For Inventor 2015

Section Hatch Update - Before & After

Have you added a new material to your library? Did you forget to map your new material to a hatch pattern in your drawing standards? Do you have drawings which are reused from one project to the next but you often change the materials? It’s likely you will have noticed the section hatches won’t update even though you have added the material to hatch map in the drawing standards style. In September 2013 we released the first edition of the D&M Section Hatch Update Add-In for Inventor 2014.D&M Hatch Update AppStore Logo Last week Autodesk approved it for use with Inventor 2015, it is also free, so there really is no excuse for not checking it out. Take a look at the video below to see what it’s all about.


Autodesk Vault 2015 Download Behaviors Have Changed!

Autodesk Vault 2015 Download BehaviorsHave you noticed? I didn’t initially either. It just so happened that this year I’m doing the Autodesk Vault Workgroup and Vault Professional courseware for CADLearning. As a result I was going through the Vault prompts with a fine tooth comb, mainly so I could capture imagery. The first thing I noticed was I couldn’t trigger a number of the prompts to appear anymore, which struck me as odd… Its distinctly un-Vault like right? Vault’s an application which is infamous among its users for bombarding users with prompts. So I was wondering, what has changed? Or have I suddenly lost my Vault geek? Thankfully something has changed, the download behaviors. It turns out the Vault Development team have made Vault even smarter this year. So what have they changed?

This took me ages, so I really hope you guys, the everyday Vault users find this useful. I’ve prepared three tables, one for Get/Download from within the Vault Client, another for download behaviors with the Autodesk Inventor Vault Add-In and finally, back in the Vault Client, a table displaying the variations in the download behavior when using the new Force Overwrite option in the Get/Check Out dialog.

Version on Disk Get from Vault Client
Download? Prompt? Prompt/Status Image
Same version NO N/A  VC Same Version
Same version (+) NO N/A  VC Same Version+
Same version Checked Out NO N/A  VC Same Version CO
Same version Checked Out (+) NO N/A  VC Same Version + CO
Different version YES NO  VC Different Version
Different version (+) YES YES Different Vault Version-Local_mod
Different revision (+) YES YES Different Vault Rev_Version-Local_mod
Different version Checked Out YES YES Different Vault Version-CheckedOut
Different version Checked Out (+) YES YES Different Vault Version-CheckedOut-Local_mod
Unknown version YES NO Unknown version


Version on Disk Get from Inventor Add-In
Download? Prompt? Prompt Image
Same version NO N/A INV Same Version
Same version (+) NO N/A INV Same Version+
Same version Checked Out NO N/A INV Same Version CO
Same version Checked Out (+) NO N/A INV Same Version CO+
Different version YES NO INV Different Version
Different version (+) YES YES Different Vault Version local_mod
Different version Checked Out YES YES Different Vault Version-CheckedOut
Different version Checked Out (+) YES YES Different Vault Version-CheckedOut-local_mod
Unknown version YES NO  INV Unknown Version


Version on Disk Get with Force Overwrite
Download? Prompt? Prompt Image
Same version NO Yes, Generic Prompt VC Same Version GET_FORCE_DL
Same version (+) YES Yes, Generic Prompt VC Same Version + GET_FORCE_DL
Same version Checked Out NO Yes, Generic Prompt VC Same Version CO GET_FORCE_DL
Same version Checked Out (+) YES Yes, Generic Prompt VC Same Version + CO GET_FORCE_DL
Different version YES Yes, Generic Prompt VC Different Version GET_FORCE_DL
Different version (+) YES Yes, Generic Prompt VC Different Version + GET_FORCE_DL
Different version Checked Out YES Yes, Generic Prompt VC Different Version CO GET_FORCE_DL
Different version Checked Out (+) YES Yes, Generic Prompt VC Different Version + CO GET_FORCE_DL
Unknown version YES Yes, Generic Prompt ForceOverwrite Unknown version

So what do you think? Did you notice that what were once treated as ‘dirty’ files are now treated as the latest version. Dodgy? Well I suppose that depends how you look at it. Lets look a two scenarios.

Jimmy is working away on Assembly 1, he has it checked out along with Part 1, one of its sub components. Cletus has Assembly 2 checked out, which also happens to use Part 1 as a sub component. Even though Cletus was warned by the Vault add-in when he tried to edit Part 1, he ignored the warnings and insisted he edit the file.

Checked Out By Cletus Modify_QWhat happens next time he opens Assembly 2 or Part 1 from Vault, either via the Inventor Vault Add-In or the Vault Client? NOTHING! Inventor will open his version of Part 1… NOT Jimmy’s version. WHAT? you might say? Well hang on. So far as Vault is concerned, it’s still the same Vault version, in other words, the current version in Vault is still the same as it was when he downloaded it prior to ‘illegally’ modifying it.

Right, so what happens when Jimmy finally checks Part 1 back into Vault? He may still also have it checked out by the way. Jimmy’s like that you see, even if he doesn’t need it, he has a habit of hogging files. Anyway, back to the point. Now Jimmy has created a new version in Vault, Cletus’ local Vault version number is now out of date. So the next time he opens Assembly 2 or Part 1, what happens? Both the Vault Add-In and the Vault Client will ask Cletus what he would like to do… reminding him that his version has been locally modified. Lets hope Cletus says Yes again.

Different Vault Version local_mod CletusWhat if Jimmy does check in Part 1? Then Cletus Checks it Out having already modified it locally? Bearing in mind the Local Vault version won’t match the vaulted Vault version.

Different Vault Version local_mod CletusHe gets prompted in the same way. Once again, hopefully he says Yes or Yes To All.

The only thing I wish was more clear, is when you Open from Vault, and your local version is the same as the vault version… but its been modified. Both the Vault Add-In and the Vault Client give the impression the file has been downloaded, when in fact it hasn’t. All in All, the Vault team have done a great job of dramatically reducing the number of prompts the end user receives while interacting with it out of the box. You just need to make sure you and your team are well aware of these new changes.

Special thanks to Allan O’Leary and Anil Chintamaneni for helping to clarify this for me and putting up with my whining.

Update: Just in case anyone is offended, the use of Cletus in the images above is to raise awareness, in a humorous way, of the need to pay attention to the dialogs within the context they are appearing. Take the time to learn them!


Autodesk Inventor iAssembly Best Practices

Autodesk Inventor iAssembly Best PracticesHave you ever wondered if there is a correct way to manage your iAssemblies? Do you often suffer with iAssembly members not generating how you would expect them to? Or regenerating the members results in broken links within your designs? Are you happy with the way your iAssembly member folders are named? If you are wondering what the answer is to any of these questions then read on.

iAssembly Creation

  1. Perform all these steps for each iPart you wish to use in the iAssembly.
  2. Once complete, create a new assembly and build your iAssembly with either iParts solely or with a combination of standard parts and iParts.

To learn how to create iAssemblies in detail, you can follow this procedure in the Inventor Help File.

Tip: Make sure you don’t use any special characters in the Member name or Filename columns within your iAssembly Table. It can create undesirable file naming problems, or errors appearing when switching between different iAssembly members.

Autodesk Inventor iAssembly Members Folder NameThen rename the top browser node (highlighted above), type in the name of the folder you would like the iAssembly members to be saved to.

Autodesk Inventor iAssembly Members Folder Name ExampleJust remember the Top Browser Node (Green Rectangle), ISN’T the filename. This is just a workaround to control the name of the folder the iAssembly Members get published/generated/saved to.

Autodesk Inventor iAssembly FilenameThe actual file name can be found in the iProperties dialog if you need it, shown above.

Autodesk Inventor iAssembly Table Filename ColumnThe filename of your iPart members is controlled in the iPart table, by setting the column you want to become the filename. By default this is the Member name column, shown above.

Generating Members

Rule number 1, NEVER delete the iAssembly members from their folder once they are in use within designs. You will break association and potentially cause yourself A LOT of rework.

Rule number 2, DON’T assume all the members are regenerated. I experienced far too many occasions where a number of the members haven’t regenerated, post factory edits, when I was expecting them to. I found a failsafe though, if you change the value of a property in the factory, they regenerate without fail every time.

While this guide focuses on first time creation, it’s important to build in stability for future edits you will almost certainly have to perform. For this reason, its good practice to test applying some changes to your factories and make sure they translate into your members as expected. An even more thorough test would be to have the first version of members constrained in an assembly. That way when you regenerate the members you will be able to see if constraint errors occur, and tend to them immediately rather than after the iAssembly Factory has gone into ‘production’.

Autodesk Inventor iAssembly Regeneration Custom iProperty

  • Create or Modify a custom iProperty called ‘GenAssy’ as shown in the image above. This will force each iAssembly Member in the table to be regenerated.

Autodesk Inventor iAssembly Rebuild All

  • From the manage tab, Update the Mass, then Rebuild All. DON’T forget this, you may regret it later.
  • Save your file.

Autodesk Inventor Generate iAssembly Members Check

  • Highlight ALL the Members in the Inventor Browser, then select Generate Files from the context menu.
  • Switch to Windows Explorer and browse to the OldVersions folder found in the iAssembly Member folder (shown above).
  • You should see the same number of OldVersions files, as there were Members highlighted in the Inventor Browser.
  • You should also check the Date Modified properties of the files, to make sure they were generated within the expected timeframe.

You should now test your iAssembly Factory, by opening a new assembly, and placing the Factory. If everything has worked you will be able to place one of each of the members.

Autodesk Vault Check In

Autodesk Inventor iAssembly Vault Check In

  1. Switch to the Vault browser
  2. Highlight the iAssembly Factory, make sure you expand at least one Member to get to it
  3. Check In from the context menu
  4. Add a comment to describe this version of the files
  5. Click Ok.

Congratulations, you have successfully created, published and Checked In an iAssembly Factory and its Members to Vault.

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions, or require clarification just fire away in the comments below.


3Dconnexion announce their next device – SpaceMouse® Pro Wireless

SpaceMouse Pro Wireless ISO

Today 3Dconnexion have announced their next product, the 3Dconnexion SpaceMouse® Pro Wireless. Following on from the 3Dconnexion SpaceMouse® Wireless last September, this product is a natural progression for the Professional series of 3Dconnexion hardware range. At first glance little has changed, but its the thought put in under the hood, with a nod towards user experience and flexibility which make this new product worthy. While the 3Dconnexion SpaceMouse Wireless was visually a completely new product, essentially replacing the 3Dconnexion SpaceNavigator. The SpaceMouse Pro Wireless is a logical evolution of what isn’t an old product anyway, however, 3Dconnexion clearly state in their press release that the SpaceMouse Pro Wireless is “all-new”.

The all-new SpaceMouse Pro Wireless offers professional 3D performance without wires.

3Dconnexion is proud to announce the 3Dconnexion SpaceMouse Pro Wireless , the first wireless 3D mouse with a comprehensive selection of professional features.

I asked John Moseley, Director of Global Marketing at 3Dconnexion, if the design team had decided to stick with the original puck design (pre-SpaceMouse Wireless), or tweaked it since their last product release. Instead of solely answering that question, he came back to me with a number of details not found in the press release:

  • The SpaceMouse Pro Wireless puck design is basically the same with the exception of the silver ring, which is a feature of our Professional Series.

Apart from the obvious extra features (buttons, hand rest), there are a few differences vs. the SpaceMouse Wireless

  • Doubled the battery life by fitting a larger battery capable of two months of operation between charges (based on 8 hours per day, 5 days per week).
  • Extended wireless range – in optimum conditions the SMPW will work up to 20 metres away from the USB receiver. Optimum generally means the USB receiver is placed in the supplied USB hub and placed on the desktop (i.e. not hidden / obstructed under the desk).
  • Two extra items in the box. A nice Twin-port USB Hub and a 0.5m USB cable in addition to the standard 1.5m cable. The goal here is to give users flexibility in how / where they place the USB receiver and charge the product.
  • USB receiver storage hole – on the underside of the product we created a slot for the USB receiver to be placed in when the user is taking the product from A to B. You can see this on one of the images (the USB receiver is shown inserted in the hole).

SpaceMouse Pro Wireless bottomDedicated storage hole for the USB receiver

“With the SpaceMouse Wireless, the world’s first wireless 3D mouse, 3Dconnexion revolutionized the market. Now the SpaceMouse Pro Wireless raises the bar even higher, delivering the same wireless freedom to 3Dconnexion’s professional series of 3D navigation devices.”

Antonio Pascucci, vice president of products at 3Dconnexion.

SpaceMouse Pro Wireless benefits

  • Complete Wireless Freedom — 3Dconnexion 2.4 GHz wireless technology for a real-time connection to your digital content and a two-month battery life. When it does need recharging, simply connect one of the supplied USB cables and continue working.
  • Professional Performance — SpaceMouse Pro Wireless automatically recognizes your application and assigns commands to its four Intelligent Function Keys. Go one step further by assigning a four-section on-screen radial menu to any of the device’s 15 buttons—providing easy access to even more of your favorite commands.
  • Keep Your Eyes On What Matters — SpaceMouse Pro Wireless’s On-Screen Display provides a convenient on-screen reminder of the commands assigned to its Intelligent Function Keys, allowing you to focus on your designs—not a keystroke cheat sheet.
  • View Your Work From Every Angle  Detect errors, explore alternatives, and present your work more effectively for review with SpaceMouse Pro Wireless’s 6DoF navigation and QuickView Keys.
  • Minimize Hand Movements —Conveniently positioned keyboard modifiers provide quick and easy access to Control, Shift, Alt and Esc functions, reducing the time you spend moving your hand to the keyboard.
  • World-Class Ergonomics And Build Quality  The SpaceMouse Pro Wireless has a full size, soft-coated hand rest for maximum comfort. Each of its 15 tactile, fully programmable buttons are perfectly positioned for maximum efficiency. Furthermore, it’s packaged into an expert design built with the highest quality components.

3Dconnexion USB-Hub Right-Iso_Receiver

  • Flexible Connectivity  Either plug the USB receiver directly into your workstation or use the Twin-port USB Hub (included as standard). With a choice of two USB cables, it’s easy to connect and charge SpaceMouse Pro Wireless whatever your desktop setup.
  • The 3Dconnexion Experience – 3DxWare® 10 allows you to customize and optimize your SpaceMouse Pro Wireless for peak performance. Easily tailor settings and buttons to your application and needs. Take advantage of exciting new features. Design, create and navigate in brave new ways.

SpaceMouse Pro Wireless top_02Are you ready to go pro? Click here to find out everything you need to know about SpaceMouse Pro Wireless today.

Pricing and Availability

SpaceMouse Pro Wireless will be available in early July. Check the 3Dconnexion website or local resellers for pricing.

About 3Dconnexion

3Dconnexion’s 3D mice revolutionize the way people interact with 3D applications, providing a more natural and intuitive way to interact with digital 3D content. 3Dconnexion 3D mice provide an intuitive, balanced and cooperative work style that results in increased productivity, improvements in creativity and enhanced comfort.

Supported by today’s most popular and powerful 3D applications, 3Dconnexion’s award-winning 3D mice serve a wide variety of industries and are used by engineers, designers, architects and artists across the globe.

Stay up-to-date with all the latest company and industry news via the 3Dconnexion blog, Facebook and Twitter.

Imagery Courtesy of 3Dconnexion.


How to remove the annoying cursor badges in AutoCAD 2015

AutoCAD 2015 Cursor Badge

AutoCAD users got a bit hot under the collar about a few things with this years 2015 release of AutoCAD’s User Interface. The final straw for them was the cursor badge. So with that backlash from the AutoCAD stalwarts, Autodesk have introduced a system variable with the release of Service Pack 1 providing users with the ability to turn off or disable seemingly innocuous addition.

So go and download AutoCAD 2015 Service Pack 1 and install it. Once you have fired AutoCAD back up again, change the CURSORBADGE System Variable from 2 to 1:

Type: Integer
Saved in: Registry
Initial value: 2

1 – Turn off all new badges
2 – Turn on all badges (Default)

Badges that will be disabled:

  • Selection – cross and window selection
  • Inspection
  • Deletion
  • Copy
  • Move
  • Rotate
  • Scale
  • Zoom
  • Add vertex
  • Covert to arc
  • Hatch inherit property

As you can see this doesn’t remove all of them, but the AutoCAD team are working on a more complete solution for the future. They just wanted to get something out there as soon as possible to respond to user feedback. BUT, before you disable your cursor badges, make sure you truly understand their purpose by hearing out Heidi Hewett on her AutoCAD Insider blog, you might just surprise yourself.