Design and Manufacturing solutions through Digital Prototyping and Interoperability

Author Archives:

How To Disable Fusion 360 Auto Projection While Sketching

Some people may get annoyed with Fusion 360 auto projecting edges during profile creation within the sketch environment. I’m talking about the magenta lines which appear when you mouse over an edge that doesn’t intersect the sketch plane. As opposed to the edges which do intersect it and therefore automatically include themselves within the profile calculation during a modelling operation.

Disable Fusion 360 Auto Projection

So how do you disable Fusion 360 auto projection for edges? There are two ways:

  1. Turn the feature off permanently within the Fusion 360 Preferences.
  2. Prevent the projection temporarily.

Disable Fusion 360 Auto Projection

This only takes effect on model edges which aren’t planar with the sketch. Another thing to consider is these edges only get projected if the current view is normal to the sketch plane. So in other words, if you rotate the model so your sketch isn’t flat on your screen, then those edges won’t project anyway.

  • Expand the menu under your Autodesk ID in the top right corner of Fusion 360
  • Select Preferences
  • Under General, highlight Design
  • Disable the Auto project geometry not in the active sketch plane check box.

Turn off Fusion 360 Auto Project Edges

Temporarily Disable Fusion 360 Auto Projection

As is often the case in several popular CAD applications, the CTRL key is super handy when it comes to selections, it often disables other application behavior temporarily as well. Fusion 360 is no exception, check out the video below to see how to temporarily disable Fusion 360 Auto Projection. Look out for the magenta projected edge when the CTRL key isn’t used, and lack of it when the CTRL key is.

Disable Fusion 360 Auto Projection

3Dconnexion SpaceMouse Enterprise Available Now

Earlier this week 3Dconnexion announced the immediate availability of their new top of the line 3D mouse. 3Dconnexion SpaceMouse Enterprise supersedes the SpacePilot Pro as the most powerful bit of kit in their comprehensive range of professional CAD peripherals. Design and Motion have been provided with a test unit to review over the next couple of months, as you will see from the press release below and embedded video, there is an awful lot to this beasty, so it deserves it decent period of use to make sure we can offer our readers some decent insight into this new offering.

3Dconnexion SpaceMouse Enterprise

Munich, Germany – April 25 2016 – Get ready to take your CAD designing to the next level with the release of the new 3Dconnexion SpaceMouse Enterprise, the 3D mouse built specifically for CAD professionals who set themselves the highest possible standards, during complex and extended working sessions.

Drawing from the style and power of the award-winning SpaceMouse Pro and SpacePilot Pro 3D mice, 3Dconnexion builds on the past to reinvent the future with the SpaceMouse Enterprise.

“In the last few years we’ve gained even more insight into the needs of today’s design professionals. Based on that input, we developed the SpaceMouse Enterprise to provide the most advanced 3D input device for professional CAD users to date,” says Antonio Pascucci, 3Dconnexion’s vice president of product development.  “This powerful but easy-to-use tool provides much requested new features, taking a CAD users “two-handed power” workflow to a completely new level.”

3Dconnexion SpaceMouse Enterprise: Highlights

  • Enjoy a Real Time Understanding of 3D Engineering Design — It’s easier than ever to navigate your 3D content with SpaceMouse Enterprise’s patented 6-Degrees-of-Freedom (6DoF) sensor and instant access to Standard and Custom1 Views.
  • Fast and Efficient 3D Modeling — It’s easy to do what you want to do with 12 of your favorite application commands instantly available. And for complete visibility, the SpaceMouse Enterprise’s new, high-resolution display presents familiar icons from your application, bringing the familiarity of the toolbar ribbon to your fingertips.
  • Feel the Difference — Your hands are your livelihood. The SpaceMouse Enterprise is built to protect them at all costs from the aches and pains that are increasingly common among hard-working CAD professionals. In fact, it’s the most ergonomically designed product we’ve ever created. The comprehensive selection of large, keyboard-like buttons, including a complete set of keyboard modifiers (ENTER, DELETE, TAB, SPACE, CTRL, ALT, SHIFT and ESC) means less hand travel to and from the keyboard than ever before, while the soft-coated, full-size hand rest offers the most comfortable two-handed workflow ever.
  • Total Peace of Mind — Enjoy total confidence in your investment with our highest level of customer care. Our new 3+1 warranty offers the standard three years of other 3Dconnexion Professional Series devices plus an additional year with product registration (within 90 days of purchase).
  • Easily Customize Your Setup — The simple, yet powerful 3DxWare 10 user interface, makes customizing your SpaceMouse Enterprise a breeze. Easily assign application commands to the buttons and tailor other settings to meet your needs.

Welcome to the new standard in engineering performance. Click here to find out more about SpaceMouse Enterprise today, including technical specifications, package contents, supported operating systems and certifications / registrations.

Pricing and Availability

The SpaceMouse Enterprise is available immediately for an introductory offer of $359 / 359 EUR / £269. The SpaceMouse Enterprise is also available as part of a kit, consisting of the SpaceMouse Enterprise, CadMouse, CadMouse Pad and Twin-port USB hub. The SpaceMouse Enterprise Kit is available for an introductory offer of $399 / 399 EUR / £299. For more information on resellers or the 3Dconnexion web shop, visit www.3dconnexion.com.

About 3Dconnexion

3Dconnexion designs powerful, ergonomic hardware and smart, easy-to-use software that combine seamlessly to make working in CAD fast, comfortable and fun. From our SpaceMouse range of 3D mice to the CadMouse, 3Dconnexion products provide a superior way for CAD professionals to interact with and experience the digital world.

3Dconnexion provides peace of mind to 3D professionals who design the buildings, machines and products that power our world. They take their work seriously, and so do we. Our products feature patented technology and unparalleled build quality to provide the performance that CAD professional demand – and deserve.

3Dconnexion products are CAD companions that don’t quit, just like the 3D professionals they serve. That’s why engineers, architects and designers have trusted us for more than 20 years to improve their work, no matter how tough the job.

3Dconnexion’s European headquarters are in Munich, Germany with offices worldwide. Stay up-to-date with all the latest company and industry news via the 3Dconnexion blog, Facebook and Twitter.

1 New and exclusive to SpaceMouse Enterprise.

When to use Fusion 360 Bodies and Components

A lot of users new to CAD or new to a 3D CAD modeller may be confused by the concept of Fusion 360 Bodies and Components. You don’t know, what you don’t know right? For those users, bodies and components can appear to be too similar to one another, and keeping things organised can be a challenge. So what’s the story? What are the differences between Fusion 360’s Bodies and Components, and when should Components be used?

Fusion 360 Bodies vs Components

Bodies

Bodies are essentially collections of 3 dimensional features connected to one another, until they form a static representation of a part. People can create multiple bodies within a Component. Modern Top down design methodologies use the concept of bodies as the bed rock of its power. Essentially you are modelling one body relative to the next, as they will be built in the real world, allowing users to ‘borrow’ geometry from one body to drive features on the next. It’s a very powerful and convenient way to model.

Fusion 360 Bodies and features

  • Collections of features
  • Predominantly used with Top-Down modelling techniques
  • Geometry from one body can be used to drive geometry on another
  • Perfect for ‘fleshing out’ your design in the conceptual stages of the process
  • You can have more than one body per component
  • Bodies can be promoted to Components
  • Typically you would only have one body per component during the final stages of design
  • You CAN’T create Joints between Bodies

Components

First of all, you need to understand that as soon as you create a new Fusion design, it is already a Component, additionally it will always be the top level Component for the design. Then by default the first 3D features you create will start to form the first Body for the design and therefore the Component. Components can contain one or multiple bodies. Typically though, as your design takes shape and you move into creating movement within your model, you would only expect to see a single body in each component.

Fusion 360 Component Properties

Components can represent either parts or sub-assemblies, so naturally sub-assembly components will be made up of other components. Building the component structure is how you communicate to the tradesman reading your drawings, or viewing your model, how you want them to assemble your design. Any downstream user of your designs will benefit from what is in fact, the Bill of Materials for your product. This structure cannot be achieved with bodies alone. Properties are a huge part of BOM’s as well, so components allow users to enter custom property values for Part Number, Part Name and Description. More properties and the ability to create custom properties will no doubt be added to Fusion 360 Components in the future.

  • Any new Fusion design is always a Component in it’s own right.
  • You can only create Joints between Components
  • Components can contain other components to form sub-assemblies
  • Defining components allows you to create a Bill of Materials (BOM)
  • Custom values for properties can be assigned to individual Components
  • Drawings are associated with components
  • Components can’t be demoted to bodies
  • Positional representations can be created, allowing a single component in multiple positions to determine the geometry of a neighboring component
  • Components are used in the animation and simulation environments

Fusion 360 Bodies and Components in Summary

Fusion 360 Bodies and Components

So, essentially Bodies form the geometric representation of your designs, either independently or as a result of relationships with other Bodies.Then Components allow you to define an assembly structure, and via the use of Joints, you can determine how parts and sub-assemblies function with respect to one another. When working with Components, you need to make sure you have the Component you are working with activated, otherwise you may get unexpected results. Just remember that the Fusion Design file is a Component of its own, so any additional features you add may end up as part of the top level Component, instead of the Component you thought you were adding it to. If you would like any further clarification, have any questions or tips about using Fusion 360 Bodies and Components, then please don’t hesitate to fire away in the comments below.

Oh, AND!!

If you are wondering  what Top Down design is, Paul Munford wrote a great piece explaining the various assembly modelling techniques within the context of Autodesk Inventor. The concepts discussed also apply for SolidWorks, and of course Fusion 360. The only difference is Fusion 360 doesn’t explicitly label components as parts and assemblies.

Solidworks BIM Content Creation Tips & Tricks

Solidworks arguably has the largest install base of the mid-range CAD products globally. Naturally this translates to a lot of Building Products Manufacturers also being Solidworks users. As BIM adoption accelerates at a rapid rate of knots, with large swathes of companies using products like Autodesk Revit and ArchiCAD, the pressure to provide high quality BIM content is piling up for Solidworks users around the world. However, although the simplification tools in Solidworks are extremely capable, and certainly adequate, there are limitations when it comes to Solidworks BIM export formats and embedded data (the I part of BIM). In this post I will highlight the most compatible workflows within Solidworks, but also show how easy it is to create poor BIM content.

The Base Dataset

The most likely scenario when starting to create BIM content, is having to do so from a completed and highly detail design. Ideally you would plan for BIM content creation during the preliminary stages of fleshing out your model in Solidworks. There is no reason why you couldn’t use the simplified geometry required for BIM content, to drive the complex forms and detail of your product. The benefits are twofold, you end up with a stable model driven by simple envelopes and instant access to a simple model to create Solidworks BIM content with.

Methven Aio Faucet Render Section

For the benefit of our readers. I’ve kindly been provided permission to use a fully detailed model of a Methven Aio Basin Mixer, skillfully modeled in Solidworks 2014. Methven make beautiful products, and I can say that, given my wife and I ended up choosing to use the Methven Kiri range of products throughout our house, long before I had the opportunity to work on this Solidworks BIM project with them.

Organization & Suppression

Solidworks 2016 New Assembly Folder

As with most high end 3D CAD products, Solidworks allows users to organize components within the assembly environment into folders within its browser. This provides a great opportunity to visually sort components into two folders, internal and external components. In doing so you can quickly toggle the visibility of components in between the two folders, making sure you end up with all the relevant Solidworks ‘BIM’ components sitting in the external components folder, allowing you to suppress all the internal components in one hit.

Simplify

Solidworks 2016 Simplify command

This command is a cheeky little number, and like the Remove Details command in Autodesk Inventor, it relies on the features you want it to remove being native to the CAD application. So essentially this means you can’t effectively use the Simplify command with 3rd party models you have imported.

The Simplify command requires you to select which features you want to remove, a simplification factor, and if you want the simplification to be feature or volume based. A nice touch is the ability to ignore removal of features which affect assembly mates. In this case I’ve used all the default options, then after clicking the Find Now button, I enabled the All checkbox, but you can explicitly highlight which features you want to keep and which ones you want to suppress. Highlighted features will be suppressed once the Suppress button is clicked. You can also create a configuration with this tool if the situation suits. As you can see from the image below the result can be quite beneficial, but retain the overall appearance of the component.

Solidworks 2016 Simplify comparison

Defeature

Solidworks 2016 Defeature Powerful, but a tad unreliable, the Defeature command has 4 stages. Component removal allows you to automate the removal of all internal components, manually select components to remove but also specify exceptions to any other rules set during this step. Stage 2 allows you to maintain some movement between components by creating rigid groups. The third stage provides the ability to choose which features to keep, either explicitly or via some auto select tools and filters. The final stage presents itself after the Defeature command processes all the selections so far, two windows appear, with the original model on the left and a defeatured preview on the right.

Throughout the process you have access to a Section View panel in the Property Manager. This is particularly helpful during the final and 4th stage of defeaturing. You can use it to check to see how much of the model, if any has been defeatured as you would expect. Luckily this stage gives you the opportunity to select additional faces, features, bodies or components to remove. Select any face and a mini toolbar pops up near your cursor, then you can choose how to expand your selection beyond the face you chose. I find this quite an effective method of refining what you need, my only complaint it deciphering what you have selected. This is a unique issue to the Defeature command, but rather a global issue with Solidworks once you have a lot of entities selected. To be fair the development team have eased this issue a bit, by allowing the user to expand the selection box in the Property Manager with the 2016 release.

Solidworks 2016 Defeature - Link to OriginalClicking through to the final page of this process, you can decide what you want to do with the model. In the context of this article, the first option makes the most sense. You can choose to Link the resulting model back to your original assembly if you want. Which could prove to be particularly helpful to building product manufacturers.

Repair, Patch & Fill

Solidworks 2016 BIM - Repair Patch FillFrustratingly in this case I wasn’t able to get the Defeature tool to fill in all of the voids, even after selecting all the features in this area of the model (at least I’m pretty sure I did… tough to tell). So if you come across this situation, you an take advantage of Solidworks modelling tools to extrude a boss, then make use of the copy body, boolean subtract and add commands. Ultimately this will create a new body you can use to fill any additional voids. In this case I chose to take it a step further, and create simplified geometry of the clamps as well.

Export Options

So this is where the good BIM, bad BIM play comes in. There are three effective ways of getting model geometry and metadata out of Solidworks and into Revit or Archicad. I’ll briefly cover each of them, as well as showing the geometric results in Revit & ArchiCAD, as well as the resulting file sizes.

Solidworks BIM Export (Export to AEC)

Solidworks BIM - Export to AEC

This is more of a workflow tool than anything else, whereby it brings together a number of tools available elsewhere in Solidworks. It starts with a request to define the type of BIM component it is and it’s orientation. I believe this is the only location in Solidworks where this vital part of BIM content creation can be achieved. After defining the ‘Host’ (floor, wall or ceiling), you are required to define a plane and an origin about which your BIM component will be attached within its destination model in the future. You can choose to Flip the Normal of the plane you select, but there is no way of telling which was is correct until you have imported it into the destination model.

On the next page you have to specify the level of detail you want to get achieve in your target model. Selecting either High, Medium or Low will pre-configure the Defeature command, allowing you to skip all the questions it asks of you, otherwise selecting Custom will take you through the full Defeature process. If you take the quick option, there aren’t any view section tools available so you can quickly check if you are being delivered the result you need. The final stage then allows you to export the result as a SAT file, I find it quite bizarre that IFC (and it’s Class definition toolset) wasn’t included as an option here.

This is my preferred option of the three for exporting you Solidworks BIM model. It gives you some BIM metadata and very clean geometry for the destination BIM based CAD system. SAT files are definitely the best option to get model data from Solidworks to Autodesk Revit.

IFC Export

Solidworks BIM - IFC Export

IFC is an extremely popular neutral file format in the BIM world. It’s certainly highly compatible with ArchiCAD and can contain rich metadata and various geometry options. It’s great news then, that IFC export has had a stealthy upgrade between Solidworks 2015 & 2016. Previously you could only export using IFC 2×3 with OmniClass classification, but you also had to set your document’s image quality to a suitable level, since quite bizarrely that drives the quality of the IFC output. 2016 delivers the option to export using the IFC 4 format, then additional improvements deliver the option of using UniClass2 classifications, as well as defining if you want Solidworks to use BREP, BREP and Tessellation or Tessellation export methods. However, you do still need to set the Image Quality in your document to determine the output resolution of the IFC file, why this can’t be specified during the export process is beyond me.

Based on my tests, exporting to IFC is an acceptable way of creating good Solidworks BIM content for ArchiCAD but a pretty terrible one for Revit. However, ArchiCAD 19 currently doesn’t support the IFC 4 file format, you will have to continue using IFC 2×3 for now. Given that the Solidworks IFC imported into Archicad delivers clean geometry, whereas in Revit the result is frankly quite disgusting, I’d say Autodesk have really dropped the ball when it comes to importing IFC files into Revit.

SAT Export

Solidworks BIM - Export as SAT

It doesn’t get any simpler than this. If you’ve followed the steps in this post and created a nice, clean and simple model for export. Then all you need to do is Save As your model and select ACIS as the file type, and save it out. The downside is you don’t get any actual ‘BIM’ metadata exported with the model, like you do when you use either Export to AEC or IFC Export.

Conclusion

Solidworks certainly has some decent tools when it comes to simplifying models of its own creation, albeit with some issues. Automating model simplification will always be an extremely tricky prospect with history based parametric modellers. The second part of the Solidwork BIM creation story isn’t about model geometry, its about Information. Although Solidworks does provide some tools to deliver BIM industry standard meta data, they do fall short. It’s at this point the reality sets in for Solidworks, it has some way to catch up before it can produce the same quality BIM content for Building Product Manufacturers as some of its competitors can. Nevertheless, I hope I’ve shown that with a bit of preparation and effort, you can indeed create good quality Solidworks BIM content.

Jon Hirschtick loses Onshape to Carl Bass

It was clear for attendees and onlookers of the Develop3D Live event held at Warwick University last week, that it was a rip roaring success full of brain food and networking. Of particular interest was the dual attendance of CAD royalty; Mr. Jon Hirschtick and Mr. Carl Bass. Given the history of Autodesk and Solidworks, having these two gentlemen in the same room together will always be a curious affair. However, this time their encounter has the power of CAD in the Cloud behind it. With Autodesk showing off and giving away Fusion 360, and Onshape doing likewise, the scene was set for a competitive environment.

Autodesk Slips in behind Onshape for the win

The competition didn’t stop at the event itself though. During the event’s invite-only after party at a local casino, it has come to our attention that a watershed moment for the CAD industry occurred.

Fueled by Kraken, the stakes were rising between Carl Bass & Jon Hirschtick. With their respective products about to go head to head in the market place, a bystander suggested they play for them at the Blackjack table, winner takes all. Carl refused to put Fusion 360 on the table, insisting the wager was completely unbalanced compared to Onshape. Instead, he proposed Tinkercad as a much more appropriate bet.

Our source relayed that Jon was disgusted by the proposition but quickly came around, figuring his legendary skills at the table would surely mean Carl’s defeat. As the game played out towards the end, a small crowd gathered as Jon doubled down with the last half of his markers… and busted… Carl walked out with Onshape and the opportunity to finally bring AutoCAD solid modelling into the 21st century.

*We sincerely hope no Onshapers were harmed in the production of this post.

Autodesk Inventor 2016 Now Uses AnyCAD format

Ok, not quite anyCAD format, but all the really important ones are covered; Solidworks, CATIA, NX, Pro Engineer and PTC Creo. Hey, what did you say? you may be asking… Yes Autodesk Inventor 2016 will now natively import and maintain associativity with all major CAD file formats. BOOM! Now that guys & gals, is a game changer for the wider CAD / CAM industry.

Autodesk Inventor 2016 Multi-CAD

Why’s it a Game Changer?

There are plenty multi-CAD workplaces knocking about, whether that’s because of mergers, legacy decisions in different departments or a heavy reliance on contract design staff. But this is also a big deal for the CAM users out there, those guys are receiving various data formats from all their clients every day… and they are also subject to in process change just like everyone else is.

In the way the Navisworks changed the way multi-disciplinary design review was carried out forever (and it’s competitors), Autodesk Inventor’s Multi-CAD functionality promises to do the same for the modelling process itself. Yes, PTC got in there first with Creo 3.0 delivering their Unite Technology supporting Solidworks, CATIA and NX files. Inventor 2016 supports those same file formats, as well as PTC Creo, Pro Engineer Wildfire and Autodesk Alias. I never got the opportunity to try out Unite in Creo 3.0, so I can’t compare real-world functionality unfortunately.

How does it work?

I have absolutely no clue, beyond knowing the translators in use are from a 3rd party* (which other CAD vendors will also be using) and a heavy dose of wizardry from the Autodesk developers! What I do know, is you can open any of the supported file types, either parts or assemblies, straight into an Inventor part or assembly. You even get to read the BOM of the source files via Inventor’s Bill Of Materials dialog. Check out this video to see how it’s done:

Does it work?

I’ve only been able to test it using datasets created in Solidworks 2015 SP1.1. So I can’t speak for the other file formats at this stage, but the harsh reality is there are issues. Bearing in mind that there is a lot of Black Magic going on here, it is hardly surprising. However, this is the first release of the technology and I have no doubt that PTC’s Unite Technology will have issues as well. But the great thing is, both of these companies are having a go at breaking down the barriers put up by competing CAD file formats.

The problems I have encountered initially are:

  • 80% of the time a projected edge from a Multi-CAD source will fail on update when the source model geometry around it changes.
  • Geometry changes within the boundary of the Multi-CAD model work better than changes which result in the overall model size changing.
  • Assembly Joints & Constraints are a bit hit & miss at release, but those relationships are more stable than sketch projections are.

So basically, if you stick to a bottom > up modelling workflow with these components you are more likely to succeed than using a top > down approach.

I did manage to program a native Solidworks part file, inside Inventor HSM though and maintain an associative relationship:

DWG Underlay

Another excellent feature which arrives under the ‘Multi-CAD’ banner, is the AutoCAD DWG Underlay. I was honestly speechless when I saw this for the first time. Having worked with Inventor in the Super Yacht interiors industry for 10 years, I’m acutely aware of how poorly Inventor handles large amounts of AutoCAD 2D objects. General Arrangement plans are highly detailed beasts in the marine (and aerospace) industry, because they’ve historically been used to sell yachts there is a lot of stylized line work. It can be a pain to clean it all up, only to receive another version the following week. God I wish I had this tool in the past. Feast your eyes on this:

* Digging through the Autodesk Inventor Trademarks and credits declaration, you will find a reference to CADCAM-E.COM. Credit to a very curious colleague of mine for finding that!

Onshape’s Roll of the Dice – Initial Review

A few different articles have popped up over the last few days discussing Jon Hirschtick, his new company and the Browser based CAD product, Onshape. Some of which have been of questionable accuracy regarding the product’s merits. Scott delivers his first look at Onshape and his opinion about their approach so far. Continue Reading

Join the Community