Prior to Inventor 2022, adjusting the iProperties of a component updated all instances. Not just in the active assembly, but in each assembly used. Using the new Instance Properties adjust the properties of specific instances, leaving the others within asn assembly as is. The assigned properties are stored within the parent assembly.

I’m not going to focus on the picks-and-clicks of this feature. Autodesk has done a great job in implementing this new functionality. Plus, a long-time friend of Design and Motion, Paul Munford, has a great write-up, which you can find here. Instead, let’s focus on the use cases, their integration with the bill of materials (BOM), and possible downstream impact.

So, Instance Properties. So what?

These new properties allow you to override the properties of an occurrence. Yet it remains the same component as the others in the assembly. This is not to create variations of a component, for that Autodesk has introduced Model States. Use this to describe the specific occurrences and to separate instances in the BOM and parts list. Then call out the information in your documentation (balloons, leaders, etc).

Two use cases come to mind: assembly instructions and schematic details. Using Instance Properties add assembling information to your models to define things like steps, sequences, details, and welding information. With schematics, separate like components based on location codes, assembly codes, use, ratings, or any other schematic property.

A simple example: an assembly with a number of brackets. The order of installation is important as it has a big impact on the assembly time. Design Views are created to document the multi-step assembly procedure. The design views drive the component visibility within the drawing views. They act as a partial filter for the subsequent Parts List. Using Instance Properties, you assign Steps to each occurrence, further separating and filtering the subsequent parts list, balloons, and other annotations.

Using Instance Properties

When adjusting the iProperties of a component the changes apply to the component definition, updating all instances of it within an assembly. Within Inventor, Instance Properties are an extension of custom iProperties. They can exist on their own or override existing custom iProperty values.

Utilize the Instance Properties (or Bill of Material) dialog to to view, add, edit, and delete property details.

Inventor Instance Properties Dialog

Within the browser, a dot indicates the component instance contains overridden properties. The hover-over tooltip provides details about the assigned instance properties.

Inventor Instance Properties Browser Display

Instance Properties are available in the bill of materials and for drawing annotations including balloons, notes, and parts lists. Within the Format Text dialog (Text or Leaders) insert the property from the Custom iProperties – Model list. To add the overridden property details to the Parts List, add the column. To utilize these properties in balloons, add the property to the balloon style

Impact on the Bill of Materials

Within the BOM, Instance Properties appear as Custom iProperty columns. From here you can view, edit, and remove the instance property information. The Model Data tab separates all instance property rows. These overridden property rows indicated with a cyan background and the overridden property values in blue. Use the right-click menu for options for working with the property.

On the other tabs, the Part Number Row Merge Settings manage if instances merge into single rows or are maintained separately.

Merge Instance Properties Rows

Used for Detailing

Within the drawing, the overridden properties act as another tool along with Grouping and Filtering for creating parts lists for specific views and their components. The ballooning matches the parts list. A great way to separate individual instances and display the instance-specific information.

[SIDE NOTE: Sure wish we could group the rows into a single row with just one item number]

Vault Professional, BOMs, and Instance Properties

So what about Vault? or when using Vault Professional and Items to manage the bill of materials?

Within Vault, if you are not mapping the Custom iProperty, it is not going to appear. By mapping the property, the value set on the part (if set on the part) is what appears. Instance Properties are stored in the assembly, meaning you will not find their values on the component files.

Instance Properties on Vault files
Custom iProperty Mapping on Files

The Vault Item BOM merges the components into a single row based on their part number, showing the total number contained within the assembly. Although an item is assigned to the assembly, the BOM is only extracting the hierarchy and quantities. The properties read from the components. The overridden properties have no effect.

Instance Properties and the Vault BOM

So the long-and-the-short of it is Instance Properties have zero impact to Vault.

In Conclusion

This new ability to override custom iProperties is a great detailing and annotation enhancement. It opens opportunities not available before. Autodesk has done a great first “rev 1” implementation as the process is easy and falls within existing workflows. However, be aware that it is not a bill of materials management tool and will not impact downstream systems like PDM.

Feature Image: Clones by EvelynGiggles