Inventor 2016 R2 is upon us. If you haven’t heard about R2, it’s the first of what’s promising to be quarterly releases for Inventor. Autodesk has announced that every quarter we should be seeing these bonus packs of new features, updates, fixes, and other goodies. You can read more about R2 in John’s post Inventor: October Update and Move Away from Annual Releases and my previous post Autodesk Inventor 2016 R2 – Shape Generator

The theme for R2 is Open | Connected | Professional Grade and Autodesk has a goal to “help you innovate, collaborate, engineer and make great products”

Great products start with good concepts, strengthen by good concept engineering tools. Have you taken a look at Autodesk’s collection of mobile apps lately? It really has exploded, where they now provide a full breadth of tools (and games) for every industry. These tools are available online in your browser or on your smart device. One of these is Autodesk ForceEffect.

Unlike the traditional approach of using paper, pencil, and a calculator to develop equations for design options, Autodesk ForceEffect does all the simulation and engineering calculations for you right on your mobile device, enabling you to quickly and easily simulate design options during the concept phase to determine the viability of a design.

What does this have to do with Inventor? Well, drum roll please,….. with R2 ForceEffect is embedded right in the Part and Assembly environments! That’s right, without leaving the comforts of Inventor use ForceEffect for creating free body diagrams, to test your design concept early in the process. When you finish with ForceEffect you can link the geometry into Inventor as a skeleton sketch.

Inventor 2016 R2 + ForceEffect

After applying R2, the ForceEffect panel will appear on the Add-Ins tab, with options for New and Open.

Inventor 2016 R2 - Add-ins tab

Before diving in I recommend a couple things… #1 I know ForceEffect is simple to use, but take the 60-seconds and take a look at the GettingStarted (Help Panel). #2 take a gander at the Tutorials. Not saying you need to actually work through them, but take a read as you might pick up a few tips.

Inventor 2016 R2 - GettingStarted

Another resource touted by Autodesk is the free ForceEffect iBook available in iTunes (here). I’m not an Apple person and it doesn’t seem to be available anywhere but iTunes…. I’ll just have to take Autodesk’s word that it’s a great resource! But if you’ve got access to iTunes, don’t let my apple-less-ness stop you from using this resource.

Building Your Inventor 2016 Diagram

Everyone’s workflow is probably a little bit different, but I typically start by selecting the analysis type, either Static or Kinematics. If I’m going to be using an image as the background, I set that initially as well.

Inventor 2016 R2 - Start

Next comes the geometry in the form of elements or construction objects. As you click-and-drag to generate the element, dimensions appear to aid in setting the right length. After locating the second point double click the dimension to set to a specific value. Snapping occurs automatically, both to end points and in relation to existing geometry. Kinematic expands the geometry types to include Free Hand elements

Inventor 2016 R2 - Adding Elements

At any time, you can switch back to selecting objects to make existing elements. As you select the element the dimension appears and with a double click you adjust the length. With the object selected, right-click and use the marking menu to delete the element, change its length, or set its weight.

Up in the right corner of the modeling window is the Degrees of freedom icon, a visual indicator of the current state of your diagram.

  • Red = indeterminate state [Elements can move & the static calculations cannot execute]
  • Green = equilibrium state [diagram is optimized… aka good-to-go]
  • Blue = overdeterminate [over-constrained]

Inventor 2016 R2 - Marking Menu

With the elements defined, now add supports including Sliding Pin, Fixed Pin, Grounded Support, and Piston. The goal with Static diagrams is to use a combination of supports and joints to reach 0-degrees of freedom.

To add joints select the end connector of an element and right-click, the marking menu provides the joint options. The Joints listed in the menu is dependent on the selected geometry.

Inventor 2016 R2 - Add Joints

To check remaining degrees of freedom drag the elements within the modeling window. The elements will only move within their open degrees of freedom

Finally, add the desired loads (known, unknown, variable distributed) and moments


As your diagram moves into the equilibrium or overdeterminate states ForceEffect calculates reaction forces and moments. Via the right-click marking menu toggle the displayed force vectors between combined and X & Y component.

Inventor 2016 R2 - Result TypesWhen satisfied the results, select Report from the ribbon. The generated HTML based report, compiles the inputs, outputs, and visual elements to create an extensive report

Inventor 2016 R2 - ForceEffect Reports

ForceEffect Diagram = Inventor Sketch

Now, this is where it gets very cool… select Part Skeleton or Assembly Skeleton to open the diagram as an Inventor skeleton sketch. The ForeEffect elements are converted to Inventor sketch lines, constrained with the reference constraint. Until you remove the reference constraints, the sketch geometry remains associative with the diagram.

Inventor 2016 R2 - ForceEffect Associative Sketch

Use the new ForceEffect panel within the Sketching environment to open the diagram. When changes are made update the geometry within the sketch. Completely round trip!

See it in Action!

Using this will really make you wonder how you’ve survived this long without it. ForceEffect is so easy to use, yet still supplies a robust set of tools.

Feature Image 110716-1240498-i by Walfer X