Interoperability with Inventor 2017

The World, it is changing… waaaaaay back when I started in the industry, the CAD companies kept a tight guard on file formats. With their proprietary data they were like young toddlers who hugged their toys yelling “mine!” so that no one else could play with them. In fact, there were (and still are) companies who’s sole business was providing services to exchange data between systems. Things sure have changed.

Not that this impacted Inventor 2017, but look at the recent agreement between Autodesk and Siemens as a sign of how things have changed. They want to increase software interoperability. “Autodesk, Inc. and Siemens today announced an interoperability agreement aimed at helping manufacturers decrease the costs associated with incompatibility among product development software applications and avoid potential data integrity problems.“… read the press release.

The walls have crumbled. I really like how Oleg S. put it on Beyond PLM …. “End of CAD formats cold war will move competition between CAD vendors in a different segment.” There is no longer competitive advantage to locked down proprietary formats, and we as the users are benefiting.

Inventor can import 23-different file types and export to over 15-types. Inventor 2017 adds support for the import & exporting of Catia V5-6R2015, the import of NX 10, the import / export of Parasolids V28, importing of SolidWorks version 2016, and the export to the IFC format.

Anyone for AnyCAD?

Autodesk has done a phenomenal job of embracing openness, especially within Inventor and Fusion 360 [It also helps that a few of their recent acquisitions brought with it some conversion technology]. With the AnyCAD ideology, you can attach a model (or drawing) to use as a reference without the need for conversion. This is truly kick ass (for more take a peek at Scott’s Inventor 2016 article).

Autodesk Inventor AnyCAD

Inventor 2017 expands AnyCAD so now STEP models can be attached as a Reference Model. This maintains a link to the file, meaning updates when the STEP file changes.

Inventor 2017 includes significant improvements to the reference model update process to provide a “robust level of associativity“. Especially with CATIA, SolidWorks, NX, and Pro-E/Creo files. The multithreading added to Inventor 2016 has been expanded to increase the performance during import and updates

With a model attached a reference, Inventor 2017 provides support for property overrides via the iProperties and BOM dialogs.What this means is that if you are not happy with the metadata of the associated CAD model you can tweak it within Inventor once it’s linked (brilliant!)

DWG Underlays

Similar to AnyCAD, Inventor 2016 added the ability to insert an AutoCAD drawing as an Underlay. This means the drawing is associatively linked, but not converted. It is like an AutoCAD XREF.

Drawing by David Pursehouse

Drawing by David Pursehouse


Now within Inventor 2017 you can insert Underlays in drawings. With the drawing linked you can add text and dimensions to annotate the underlay. You can also manage the Underlay’s layers and line types (via the Styles Editor)

Within Parts, Underlays can now be cropped. This is a great enhancement as you can now remove irrelevant portions of the drawing.

The standard Inventor Redefine feature is now applicable on the Underlay. Use this to…

  • Move the Underlay to a different plane or adjust the origin point
  • Reconnect the Underlay’s plane if the dependant plane is removed
  • Reestablish associativity with legacy files.

Other updates:

  • With the Underlays within an assembly, you can now add constraints and joints.
  • The location of a DWG underlay now associatively updates when the location of the DWG underlay’s plane and/or insertion point changes.
  • Use the new right-click Add Instance to insert another instance of the DWG into the same part file

Would You Like a Side of 3D PDF With That?

Inventor 2017 includes the ability to export your models to 3D PDF. This is powered by Anark Core, meaning it is not Autodesk technology but third-party powered. What’s also important is this same technology has been licensed for Vault as well.

“Adding Anark to our partner program will confirm our commitment to providing access to the best 3D MBE technology in the shortest amount of time possible” – Buzz Kross, Senior VP of Manufacturing for Autodesk

Between this and the enhancements to A360, I think we can finally put the final nail in the DWF coffin.



Featured Image credit: 160311-N-VA915-127 via photopin (license)