At this year’s Autodesk University I was fortunate to have the opportunity to present three Inventor classes. All three were well attended and had lively discussion. It was a blast! For the second year in a row I presented a class on sketching within Inventor. I presented a collection of tips and tricks that I have learned and gained from others over the years. Since sketching is such an integral part of parametric modeling, even the slightest in time savers can pay big dividends.

MD4857 – Sketching with Autodesk Inventor

Sketching is the basis of any model. In this class we will explore sketching within Inventor software, and we’ll give you the timesaving tips and tricks to make you more productive. This includes the timesaving tools introduced with the 2015 release of Inventor software, including Relax Mode and the new onscreen right-click tools. Come to this class to learn the skills you need to build a rock-solid foundation for your models.

Where did I gather all of this sketching information? Firstly, from my 14+ years of using Inventor, I have collected a lot of tips-and-tricks regarding sketching; some from using the software and many from other users. Unfortunately I have forgotten many of the sources of these tips and tricks but there are some great places to get information on Inventor, not just sketching

The old saying is “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”, but with Inventor it’s really both. I’m always on the lookout for any time saving steps that will reduce the time to get things done within Inventor or will build stronger, better models. Here are some of my recent favorites:

This is the first of a two part series. The second part will be featured on Paul Munford’s CAD Setter Out site, so keep an eye out for that.

What does Inventor’s help says about sketching… The Inventor Sketch environment consists of a sketch plane (where the sketch is located) and sketch commands. You create edit, constrain, and dimension sketches only when the sketch environment is active. With the sketch command selected, you can specify a planar face, work plane, or sketch curve as the sketch plane

Creating and Working with Sketch Planes

TIP: You can create an offset Workplane while defining the sketch plane. You can generate an offset workplane with a sketch on it in one step by dragging off the desired face with the create sketch command active

Inventor - Offset Workplane While Defining Sketch

TIP: Sketches can be used to define Work Features. Sketch geometry, especially lines can provide an easier method for creating difficult to locate work features. For an example look at Ben Curtin’s example Inventor Holes at a Compound Angle on the Tata CAD Geek Speak blog

TIP: Slice Graphics. Autodesk Inventor Help Definition: “Sometimes geometry obscures your sketch plane, or other components in a part model hide it. When the sketch tool is active, use the context menu option Slice Graphics to slice away temporarily the portion of the model that obscures the plane.” When the model is in the way on your sketching Slice Graphics removes everything between you and the sketch plane. You can initiate Slice Graphics when the editing a sketch via the right-click menu or by using F7. If by chance the model is sliced in the wrong direction, turn off the slice graphics, rotate the model, and try slice graphics again.

Inventor - Slice GraphicsTIP: Project Cut Edges. Use Project Cut Edges to associatively projects edges of the model that intersect with the sketching plane. Think of it as the edges of a section view and your sketch is the section line.

TIP: Project Flat Pattern. Autodesk Inventor Help Definition: “Unfolds a disjointed face or faces into the sketch plane.” Project Flat Pattern is great for the situations where you don’t need the overhead and advanced options of the Sheet Metal Unfold / Refold features, just wanting to reference existing geometry edges

Inventor - Project Flat PatternSee the tips live in action!

Feature Image “Sketching with Reshma” by Juhan Sonin courtesy of Flickr