Autodesk Inventor 2016 R3

Lost a little in the hustle-and-bustle that is Autodesk University was the official release of R3 for Inventor 2016. Only available to subscription customers, this is the second bonus pack of feature enhancements for Inventor 2016 users. With Autodesk moving to continuous updates (aka no more big yearly upgrades – only quarterly updates), the Inventor team is setting a strong precedent of what we should expect.

[Note: if you’d like to read more about Inventor 2016 R2 check out our posts on both the ForceEffect and Shape Generator enhancements.]

What’s New?

  • Connected Design on A360
  • Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) file format support

Inventor 2016 Road Map

Industry Foundation Classes (IFC)

Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) is an initiative originally started by Autodesk, but developed and maintained by the non-profit organization buildingSMART. Think of IFC as the DXF or STEP of the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry. It is used as an open source, platform-neutral format, for the exchange of data between systems.

Why export IFC from Inventor? to share 3D mechanical designs with building and construction applications. Inventor “leverages buildingSMART-certified IFC export capabilities in Revit to provide this capability.”

Inventor 2016 R3 IFC Export with Check Design

To export a part or an assembly select IFC from the Export Building Components command, located within the BIM Exchange environment. Both the geometry and material properties are written to the IFC.

Connected Design

How do you share and review your Inventor designs with others? Especially those co-workers, clients, or suppliers who are not located in your office?

You could send an email, but what do you attach? You probably don’t want to send the Inventor model, either because of security or protecting your intellectual property (IP) ….  or just because of the large number of files you would need to send. Images are static. PDFs can contain 3D models, but Inventor doesn’t create 3D PDFs natively. DWF is great, but its basically a dead format and the recipient needs Design Review. On top of this, people typically have a limit on the size of email they can receive… and in this day-and-age of cyber security, attachments are closely monitored…. and regularly blocked!


Typewriter (pre-email relict) by Matthias Ripp

Alternatives to email? FTP sucks, so what about Dropbox, Box, or Google Drive? Potential problems with logins, getting access, and then downloading the files. Autodesk Buzzsaw is great, but it’s not really built for short-term, one-time access. You could always GotoMeeting or something similar, but again you have problems with logins and these are not always great for the transmission of 3D models.

This is where the new Connected Design comes in…

“Inventor Connected Design enables fast, easy 3D design reviews with your team and other project collaborators anywhere, on any device.”

Connected Design leverages the new(ish) A360 to provide a platform to quickly share your Inventor models with others. The publishing process creates an extremely lightweight “viewable” called a Design Share. Others can view your Design Share on just about any device, including computers, smartphones, and tablets. Only what is visible on the screen is published, meaning you can control what others see.

I was told at AU that the owner of the Design Share is the only one requiring an A360 account. However in my testing when I clicked on the email link it required me to log in. I’ll need to try this again once the updated version of A360 goes live.[Want to learn more about

[Want to learn more about A360? Check out Kevin’s blog on Mechanical Advantage]

The Design Share is created from the current view, so the first step should be to make invisible any components you do not want to share. You may also want to simplify the model. Basically, what you see is what you share.

The process starts by clicking the Design Share button located at the bottom right corner of the Inventor window. If you are not already logged into A360 you will be prompted to do so.

Inventor 2016 Design Share Button

This launches the Connected Design panel. Two tabs provide information about existing Design Shares. Pick Design Share this View on the bottom of the panel to create a new share.Specify the details including the title, a comment, and the email addresses of the required collaborators.

Inventor 2016 Design Share Panel

Optionally select generate preview to see the resultant viewable before committing it to A360.

Inventor 2016 Design Share Preview

When satisfied select Start Design Share to publish the view to your A360 account. Your recipients will receive email similar to this…

Inventor 2016 Connected Design Email

Notice the embedded link meaning they can click and gain almost instant access to the file. The A360 viewable appears and functions just like the preview, but it does contain the option to add comments. The comments are visible to all collaborators with access to the Design Share.


A360 Design Share Kawa


See the product in action…

Need to know

Currently, the following is NOT published, but I think this is only a short-term limitiation.

  • The Feature tree
  • Part properties
  • Component names

In Summary

If you work alone or on a team that never sends data outside the corporate firewall, this release may not be for you.

However, If you have a need to exchange data with IFC, you finally have the ability.

If you have a need to provide a viewable, “reviewable”, snapshot of your Inventor design you will find a lot of benefit with the new Connected Design. Both options are extremely easy to use and do little to impede your regular day-to-day modeling processes. Autodesk is now 2-for-2 on the additions to Inventor 2016 (in my view), and its good to see that they are leveraging their other technologies.


Feature Image Link” by Manel