Inventor Part with Associative Sketch Cut File

Part 3 of this series is my preferred method of generating cut files but it has its issues also. However, I believe it covers most of the issues for those working with wood and nested based CNC machining. It may even be more beneficial for some sheet metal companies as well. Nevertheless, the only reason I’m sharing this method publicly is because we now use a much better in house developed process which significantly cuts down on the time it takes to generate cut files and subsequently program them in our CAM software. I’m sorry I can’t share that one with you Winking smile. Since there are more steps involved in this Tutorial the videos are more comprehensive and a bit longer, I can only hope the interest in the topic overrules my monotone narration. Hopefully I will get better at these voice overs.

Part 3 Create a Drawing

I was going to save the best till last, in a way I am, but I think this method will be the most interesting one I post and likely the most useful to the majority. So I’ve been quite excited about getting it out to you. Anyway, if pictures speak a thousand words then videos are better, so I will just let it speak for itself:

Creating CNC Cut Files using sketches & Inventor Drawings

Following that workflow alone would get you there. However, if you use Inventor DWG’s as your companies standard drawing file format, then the following video may result in a few less files for you. Thanks to Paul Munford for tipping me off on this beauty last week (Twitter @CadSetterOut or

Right so you may be thinking what a mission it is creating all this lot. However, consider that maybe you have to create a view of each part individually in your drawing package at some point, you could combine these workflows together to be more efficient or if you are lucky enough to be able to write VB or have someone in your workplace who can. Then you can automate the process via an Add-in or a macro. So I thought I would share a video of one of our cut file macros at work:

What really gets me excited about this workflow is its associativity with the base files. You can do the hard work of creating your CNC cut files while the product is still being designed, sure you may have to redo some of them if some parts change beyond limits. However, you could be creating these cut files while someone else is drafting up the model. Any subtle changes which occur prior to the design being released for construction are associatively updated with very little effort and at the click of a button are exported en masse to a dxf/dwg for some pre CAM prep. If you chose to do so, you could place the geometry onto CNC ready layers in the Inventor environment, but in my opinion the quick select tool in AutoCAD makes short work of that by using the colours you set in the part sketch. Selecting the geometries individually in the Inventor drawing environment would be like pulling teeth. AutoCAD still has a place after all, if only Autodesk created some more control over the object selection in Inventor drawings.


  • Associative Cut files
  • Allows you to manage exactly what geometries you want in the cut file
  • Export of the ‘txt’ font text results in centre line text in AutoCAD which is perfect for CNC machines
  • Geometry Layers & Colour settings are maintained on Export which can then be leveraged efficiently in AutoCAD
  • Batch processing of cut files is possible natively, with zero customisation
  • Result is a single file containing multiple cut files which allows for efficient preparation in AutoCAD prior to CAM import


  • Resulting geometries are individual & open
  • Splines aren’t converted to polylines
  • Based on the listed workflow, all geometries are on the same layer
  • Result is a single file containing multiple cut files which can mean a lot of work splitting the cut files up in the CAM software prior to nesting.

Once exported to DXF/DWG the txt font becomes centerline text

As a final note, you may have noticed my text style in my part sketch was permanently modified from the default which ships with Inventor. If there is enough interest I will create another post in a week or so showing you how to do that. I soon got sick of changing it for each engraved piece of text I wanted on a part, so I assume you guys will as well.
Edit: Here is a link to the Text Style modification I refer to in the paragraph above. Inventor | Setting up a sketch text style

Related Posts:

Part 1 Flat Pattern Export

Part 2 Export Face/Sketch As

Part 4 Autodesk University 2013 Class MA2274

You can follow Scott on Twitter @scottmoyse