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Tag Archives: Inventor

Autodesk Inventor 3D Sketch Bends Ease Tube Transitions

I prefer to work in the 2D environment when possible. It’s easier to control factors, but there are times when the 3D sketch environment saves a lot of time, and times where a 3D sketch is simply the only option.

3D Tube Bend Render in Autodesk Inventor

One such instance is routing tubing from a non-orthogonal axis fitting to a mount on an orthogonal axis. I could have used multiple 2D sketches to develop multiple work features in order to handle the transition, but what a waste of time. Plus with those extra steps, the design history gets quite complicated and begging for update failures.

3D Bend

Using a 3D sketch to layout linear geometry and 3D Bend to control the bend transitions is quite easy.  In my example, I have both mounting axes, as well as 2D geometry which delineates start and end segment tube definitions. All I need is the stuff in between.

Autodesk Inventor 3D Sketch Geometry with Work axes

  • Create a 3D sketch, and ‘Include’ all the 2D geometry that is needed as a reference.
  • Draw Line geometry representing the linear segments that are needed in the transitions.
  • Constrain the lines as needed to the references.
  • Add Dimensional constraints as needed.
  • Create 3D Bend at each vertex.


Autodesk Inventor 3D Sketch Bend Geometry

Some Tips

In order for 3D Bend to work, all related linear geometry must be in the same 3D sketch. It will not work on geometry in more than one 3D sketch.

When you use the ‘Include Geometry’ tool, any geometries included can be used in a Sweep operation. In the video below, I demonstrate how included geometry can be used as part of the path in a Sweep. Note that if you want that included geometry to be ignored, just like in 2D sketches, you have to change their type to construction.

A path driven sweep will fail if your included geometry (non-construction) overlaps your sketched geometry. Essentially doubling back on itself. This will cause the Sweep to fail. Since the problem is covered up by well built line-work, it is often very difficult to discover this.

How Does It Update?

Brilliantly! I started with the tube ending all the way up to the flange, but realized that I needed room for a tube hinge  I simply adjusted the 2D sketch references for the gap needed and the updates behaved perfectly.

Autodesk Inventor 3D Sketch Tube Surface Transition

Video Demo on our YouTube Channel


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.


Inventor | View Representations – You just clicked “Ok,” didn’t you?

Even for the seasoned Autodesk Inventor users out there, a frustrating little problem in Inventor assemblies occasionally pops up that seems to defy all logic.

Change the visibility of a component or workplane etc. and suddenly EVERYTHING becomes visible or invisible in your assembly? You’ve probably unintentionally broken the associativity of a view rep somewhere, by just clicking “Ok” to a dialog box that you either didn’t read or didn’t understand. #AmIRight

This video aims to provide some clarity as to what that dialog really means, and how to re-associate the view reps.

Design View Representation Associativity in Autodesk Inventor

Autodesk Inventor Distributed Parameters in Sheet Metal

F-15A_KOQU_Nozzles_18June2005_KenMiddleton_100_7446Image Credit: Ken Middleton – Flickr

Did you ever need to manage Autodesk Inventor Sheet Metal Thickness parameters from another file? A good example of using this is in Top-Down Modeling.

Sheet Thickness Function Categories

I have found it to be very good practice to establish function categories in managed parameters, such as ‘SheetThickHeat1’, ‘SheetThickLoad2’, etc. These form the basis for managing the thicknesses of common sheet metal components based on the environmental factors they will experience, or the funtions they will serve.

Let’s take a turbine engine bay concept including internal liner shields, and external casing panels separated by an insulator. Both groups are going to experience thermal stress, but the inner liner is critical, the insulated outer casing is not.

I would assign the following example:

Non-critical thermal loading – ‘SheetThickHeat1’  = SS14Ga

Critical thermal loading – ‘SheetThickHeat2’ = SS11Ga (actually, I might not use stainless, but you get the point)

Brackets that take a heavy bending load would be assigned a different function parameter than sheet metal parts that don’t.

These parameters are developed in the master skeleton file, and derived into every related part file. I assign these parameters as if I were applying a function category to the part.  If the client decides that they wish to increase the heat in a critical thermal load area, I can change the SheetThickHeat2 parameter and update the liner panels and every other part that shares that parameter. This process takes a bit of creativity and proper application, but I have found it useful in numerous circumstances.

I load all the gauge thicknesses for my steel sheets in the master skeleton parameters as well. In U.S. military aviation we rarely dealt with sheet steel by gauge, but I run into it a lot on the private side of things. Plus, remembering the conversion in mm from one vendor to another is difficult. Having the parameters named such as SS18Ga makes things easier for me.

Tying the Sheet Metal Thickness to a Derived Parameter

In the distant past you could not do this. There was no avenue and all you could do was enter an override integer.

Autodesk Inventor Parameter Editor Locked Sheet Metal

Sheet Metal parameters in a Read-Only state.

However you can currently achieve this in two ways.

Manually Enter the Parameter in the Style Editor

Autodesk Inventor Style Editor Sheet Metal Thickness

You may have noticed that Inventor will permit you to pick a parameter from a recent use list, but there is no ‘List Parameters’ option here. No problem.

Simply manually type the parameter in, and Inventor will allow it.

Manually Override the ‘Use Thickness from Rule’ Option

This is a better option.

If you uncheck this option in the Sheet Metal Defaults, the option to use another parameter is enabled, and the ‘List Parameters’ option appears on the right of the Thickness field.

Autodesk Inventor Sheet Metal Defaults Unlock Thickness

Additionally, this unlocks the parameter field in the Parameter Editor, where you can manually type the derived parameter name, or simply use the ‘List Parameters’ option as well.

Autodesk Inventor Parameters Editor List Option


Client Flexibility

This workflow allows very simple changes to a broad use of sheet metal in an assembly design. Some of my clients like to change their minds, and I enjoy providing a little flexibility.

Autodesk Inventor Small Sheet Metal Parts DesignThe only warning I offer in this workflow is this: when developing tight features such as in the image below, it is a good idea to leave some wiggle room in the design for thickness increase and manufacturability concerns. If you don’t, you may run out of bending room as the thicknesses increase, and the parts will fail to build.

Inventor iLogic – Why on earth are you not using it already!?

A lot of you will have heard of iLogic in Autodesk Inventor, but are probably still scratching your heads wondering what it is. This primer video is intended to give you a brief introduction to how it works, and inspire some thought as to where it may be useful in your business.

An introduction to iLogic in Autodesk Inventor 2015


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.