Autodesk Inventor 2015 Freeform T-Spine SeatThe 2015 release of Autodesk Inventor is a real “mixed-bag” of new stuff, and most of it is awesome! Some of the new features are a continuation of technology added last year, while others are “wish-list” type items that users have been requesting for a while. The really exciting ones however, are completely fresh “game-changer” type additions which continue to push Inventor ahead of it’s competition in terms of innovation.

“To deliver an exceptional modeling experience, Inventor 2015 brings focused, impactful additions to the
3D Modeling environment as its primary theme. It also delivers a robust package of customer-requested
productivity improvements throughout other work environments, for both new and advanced modelers.
Included are tools for direct editing and freeform modeling creation, and faster ways to modify and
create sketch relationships”

I’ll start with a bit of a summary of the changes, and then I’ll flesh a couple of them out a bit more. I’ve used colours to categorize these changes according to the 3 types I mentioned above. I’ve also put links where I have found Ideastation requests which should now be answered by new features. Here is the colour key:

  • Continuation from previous improvement
  • Wish-list item
  • Game-changer or other major new feature
  • Other

Sketch Environment:

  • Relax-Mode for Constraints
  • Sketch tab always available in all environments
  • Constraint setting improvements
  • RMB “Delete Constraints” and “Delete Coincident Constraints” commands
  • Geometry end-point creation improvement
  • Offset improvements
  • Sketch point at virtual intersection
  • Sketch text styles!
  • “Look At” enhancements to prevent over rotation of view (Inventor Ideastation Link: 57 Kudos for this one!)

 Part Environment:

  • T-Spline Freeform Bodies
  • Direct Edit
  • Twist Angle option for Sweep
  • Standard Tap Depth for holes (from thread.xls)
  • Parameters Dialog Enhancements
  • Window Selection for punch placement (Sheetmetal)
  • Cut Normal (Sheetmetal) WOOHOO!!!! (resolves this: Inventor Forum Link)
  • Punch across bend (Sheetmetal) (resolves this: Ideastation Link)
  • Unfold/Refold Zero-radius bends (Sheetmetal)
  • A-Side designation for Flat Pattern
  • Name Workplanes in browser (names show in graphics window)
  • Wrap-to-surface up to 50x faster!
  • Shell and Taper Extrusion are more tolerant of extreme geometries
  • Dynamic Width for Parameter Dialog

 Assembly Environment:

  • Joint Enhancements
  • Member Reuse in Frame Generator (resolves this: Ideastation Link)
  • 2-Click workplane creation now works for non-parallel faces
  • Express mode improvements – More commands available
  • Component opacity improvements for Tube & Pipe

Drawing Environment:

  •  Fast Drawing Views using Express-Mode data!
  • Fast open option to skip file references
  • Improvements to foreshortened dimensions (does anyone care?)
  • Move split table to another sheet
  • Double-click balloon to edit
  • Auto Sort Parts List on Update option (very cool)
  • Parent Sheet and Name Properties for drawing views (this kind of idea)

Other than those big categories, there are a whole host of new features and improvements in the UI and settings. My personal favourite is the new Application Option to change the texture path directory for material appearances. This will put an end to the need to fiddle with the TexturePath registry key when moving your texture assets. There are also additions in the areas of learning, community, cloud tool connectivity, and even Task Scheduler.

Autodesk Inventor 2015 Home TabI’d have to say that my only disappointment with this release would be the new Home Screen. It may just be that it’s new, and I haven’t got used to it yet, but to me it’s just too big, and the buttons look like they’ve been designed for a touch screen, which seems odd. New users will probably love this, but for the Inventor veterans, I think it may come across as just another new interface to learn.

For those of you who haven’t seen much about the Freeform and Direct Edit tools yet, here is my take on where I think they’ll be most useful:

Direct Edit

Autodesk Inventor 2015 Direct EditAutodesk Inventor 2015 – Direct Edit Feature

There has been much debate over the subject of “Direct Modelling” versus “Parametric Modelling.” The reality is, there is a time and a place for both. The reason that Direct Edit is such a big deal, is that it means that Inventor can now accommodate both workflows. This combined with T-Spline Freeform bodies provides an incredibly powerful hybrid modeller which helps to span the gap between Industrial and Mechanical designers, and provides a single platform which can be leveraged by both, to create robust models with a single source of truth, that can adapt quickly to changes in terms of both styling and engineering. The other benefit that Direct Edit adds is models with very long and complex history trees. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember how you constructed particular geometry and edits can be difficult to perform without breaking something else. In these cases, a Direct Edit can allow you to make a change while leaving everything else in tact. Of course, the other bonus is the simplicity that Direct Edit brings to modifying dumb solids that you may have downloaded from a 3D content source.


Freeform Body - Inventor 2015Inventor 2015 Freeform Body

As a first release of the T-Spline implementation for Inventor, it’s a great start. It has most certainly added some of what has been missing in Inventor with respect to organic surfacing. We’re very excited about it’s future & the way the Inventor team have been seeking feedback. So while there are most certainly shortcomings with this version, I encourage you to provide informative feedback via your support channels the the Autodesk Inventor forums. In the meantime there is a lot which can be achieved with this new fantastic tool, so go and have fun with it.


Hopefully this has given you enough of an overview to know exactly where you need to head first to try out your new toys. We’ll be bringing you more information on some of the new features in the form of reviews and demos over the coming months. Happy “2015”.

For those of you using Inventor with Vault, be sure to check out our Autodesk Vault 2015 – What’s New post.

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