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Autodesk Inventor RAL Colour Libraries?

Autodesk Inventor RAL Library

LOTS of people have to use RAL colours during their design process on a daily basis. However, due to licensing rights, Autodesk can’t provide them out of the box. But that doesn’t stop you from being able to create your own as and when you need them. BUT. The power of the Internet and staggering CAD community has come to the rescue, Tobias Zetterberg has hooked us all up like a true champ. He’s only gone and created a substantial Autodesk Inventor appearance library with a solid whack of RAL colours! It appears the entire list as defined on Wikipedia is in this digital nugget of awesomeness. Well done Tobias! If you download and use this, make sure you let him know on the forum and hook the man up with some Kudos! Also some credit goes to Paul Munford for sharing the post on Twitter in the first place.

There are some issues with the Zip file on the forum, so I’ve hosted a copy of the file on our server.

If you need to know how to load up, or make use of these appearance assets, then you can refer to these posts I’ve written in the past:

Inventor | Creating Custom Materials & Libraries in 2014

Inventor | Materials Editor Navigation

Inventor | Appearance In-canvas overrides

How do I deal with style differences in Autodesk Inventor?

Edit: In addition, the Inventor Wizard has provided 3 different RAL library variations, Generic, Metallic High Gloss, Metallic Matte.

Autodesk Vault Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN) Setup Guide

I recently saw Alex’s prowess in setting up a Fully Qualified Domain Name within the Autodesk Vault 2016 beta. Configuring this feature means users can log into Vault from the internet in a secure and high performing way, all without using a VPN connection. I’d already been talking to him about writing a few posts for Design & Motion, so knowing how much I had struggled to decipher out of date Autodesk documentation in the past, I thought this would be the perfect first post for Alex. So it’s with great pleasure that the Design & Motion team introduce Alex Fielder to our readers. He’s a throroughly nice chap, you can read his bio to find out what he’s all about or you can have a chat with him on Twitter. Without further ado, here’s Alex’s cracking guide for setting up an FQDN for Autodesk Vault. Cheers Alex!


Decide if you want open ( http: ) or encrypted ( https: ) access from your Vault, I will only be covering how to setup http: access today,

Common practice among larger organisations is to have web-facing servers in a demilitarized zone (DMZ), but since this is outside of the scope of this article, I will leave it for the reader to decide whether this is a method they are keen on implementing.

An area that requires some thought is the setup of user accounts (for remote access) and their permissions, but I will also leave that out for now.

A note about my setup: I’m using Windows 10 Technical Preview Build 9841 running on VirtualBox Version 4.3.12 r93733.

Host Network setup

Page 5 of the Advanced Configuration Guide (ACG) for Vault Server 2014 details how to change the default port during initial installation.

I made these changes after having installed Vault Server, so the steps detailed in this post will reflect that.

If there are other web-facing servers/services on the host network, then choose a port that will not clash with that. I set this up on my home network which has a Stora NAS with web access on port 80, and my router allows remote login on port 8080 (which also happens to be the alternate port mentioned in the ACG above), so I chose port 81 instead.

Windows Firewall

On the Vault Server, use the Windows Firewall with Advanced Security to add an inbound firewall rule for whichever port you chose to use (in my case port 81)

Autodesk Vault Fully Qualified Domain Name Autodesk Vault Fully Qualified Domain Name - Ports

Router Configuration

Autodesk Vault Fully Qualified Domain Name - ipconfig all

On the Vault Server, from the Command Prompt (CMD) run ipconfig /all to retrieve the Vault Server IP Address:

In the Host network router, add a port forward to the VaultServer-ip address for port 81:

Autodesk Vault FQDN - Port Forwarding

The process for configuring port forwarding will vary depending on the router you have.

Don’t forget to click Apply or Save!

Internet Information Services (IIS)

In the Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager, select the Website that contains the AutodeskDM virtual directory. (My method differs from the Advanced Configuration Guide, because I am using Windows 10 Tech Preview instead of Windows Server 2008 R2/2012):

Autodesk Vault FQDN - IIS

On the right hand side, under “Edit Site” select “Bindings” (circled above) and remove the existing port 80 row. Then click add and put in your chosen port:

Autodesk Vault FQDN - Port Binding

As these changes are being carried out after installation it is also necessary to edit the web.config file for the AutodeskDM application. You can find this file here:

C:\Program Files\Autodesk\ADMS Professional 2016\Server\Web\Services

Open this file with your favourite text editor (I use notepad++) and search for the phrase “port=” in the document. On or around line 439 change:

<server port=”80″ sslPort=”443″ website=”Default Web Site” sslRequired=”false” />

To read:

<server port=”YourChosenPort#” sslPort=”443″ website=”Default Web Site” sslRequired=”false” />

So in my case it is:

<server port=”81″ sslPort=”443″ website=”Default Web Site” sslRequired=”false” />

Save and Close this file, then, returning to the IIS Manager window, click the “Restart” option on the right hand side to restart the Site.

Remote Client setup

Check if it is possible to load the Host-ip:PortNumber/AutodeskTC url in a browser, if successful the Autodesk Vault Thin Client log in page should appear:

Autodesk Vault FQDN - Thin Client Log In

The Server value for the login credentials above, would be Host-ip:PortNumber.

Logging in should then present you with this familiar page:

Autodesk Thin Client Landing Page

Install Vault Pro Client on remote machine. Check client <> server version compatibility.

It is likely that the Vault Pro Client install will require a system reboot, so after restarting the remote client machine, fire up the Vault Pro Client and put in the same credentials used for the Thin Client:

Autodesk Thick Client Landing Page

(I used Vault Pro 2014, but Vault Pro 2013 can also talk to Vault Server 2015)

It is imperative to remember to include the port number at the end of the server name if you did not use port 80 in all login areas.

Finally, here is a view of my office-based Vault Professional Client, logged into Vault Pro Server using FQDN:

Autodesk Vault Logged in using FQDN Server

Thanks for reading and I hope you find this useful!

Autodesk Nastran In-CAD: Test Drive

Recently I reviewed the features that Autodesk Nastran In-CAD offered to inventor users that wanted a lot more simulation power. While I have had some experience with Siemens FEMAP interface for Nastran, I have had very little experience with Autodesk’s new In-CAD UI. I thought that this article would be a good time to get in and try it from the perspective of a new user. (I should mention that I crashed an In-CAD seminar at Autodesk University for about an hour, so I did have an hour jump-start)

It should be noted here that Autodesk is selling In-CAD directly with Autodesk Inventor, as if to say “Here is our Nastran solver with an Inventor front end”. I am however writing this for everyone’s benefit, including existing Inventor users that are considering a Nastran solver.


The setup workflow is the same as one would expect:

  • Establish materials, boundary conditions, and loads.
  • Double-check everything
  • Run the solution which fails [beat head on desk]
  • Adjust the model and rectify and oversights
  • Run the solution – success
  • Review the results
  • … a laundry list of review and comparison to ensure that you are confident in the analysis model and results

Material Properties

Nastran In-CAD sorts components into material categories that are easily defined. It will pull in the material properties from the CAD model with the push of a button. In addition it can import material properties from any of the Inventor or Autodesk material libraries, or allow users to create their own.

Tip: Non-linear material types are supported, but will need to be created as these definitions are not in the existing Inventor Library (as far as I know).


Constraints, Contacts, and Loads all use similar dialogs that permit faces and bodies to be selected and deselected as desired.  Once selected, the particular conditions can be configured and applied as required.

Autodesk Nastran In-CAD Setup Panels

The Constraints dialog also contains buttons that identify limiting concepts (i.e. no rotation, free, symmetry, etc.) that directly relate to the 6 degrees-of-freedom check boxes that most analysts relate to.

Autodesk Nastran In-CAD Constraints Setup

Discerning between various surfaces is handled through the Inventor alternate surface explorer popup.

5 Contact types are available: General, Slide, Welded, Rough, and Offset Weld.

Autodesk Nastran In-CAD Contact Setup

Various limitations to contact proximity, penetration, etc. are available to configure.

Tips: Autodesk suggested using Welded for ‘Bonded’  types, and General for most other applications.

Load applications are equally simple. Load direction is applied by:

  • Individual component coordinate systems (X,Y,Z axes)
  • Normal to face
  • Geometric entity (by edge of selected geometry)

Tip: boundary conditions such as constraints and the like can be applied to different subsets


I have always loved Nastran’s adaptive meshing. It does it well and effortlessly. I typically (not always but often) get mesh concentrations how I needed them without a lot of manipulation.

Meshing is carried out with both global refinement settings and individual component settings. One feature I like is the mesh properties table, where all the component mesh settings are managed in one setting, and are easily editable.

 Autodesk Nastran In-CAD Mesh Table

I liked this a lot. Nastran In-CAD also offers an element check, where In-CAD will inspect the model meshes for inconsistencies, such as Skew, Aspect, and Jacobian limits. The results of these can be highlighted in the model, making detection and adjustments much easier.

Autodesk Nastran In-CAD failed elements

Tip: In-CAD will allow you to return to Inventor to work as normal. Be very aware that once component geometries that are connected with an In-CAD study are altered, anything applied to meshes, including constraints and contacts will be fouled and subsequent runs will require the boundary conditions to be meticulously corrected unless very broad automatic detection settings are imposed (which can be costly in run time)


I chose to setup a simple linear static analysis for this article, so that it would solve quickly and I could get a feel for basic activities. Additionally, we were using a Lenovo P500 Thinkstation CAD platform provided by Lenovo for these “CAD user” type evaluations in order to frame this in a “CAD user” perspective for solve times. While most companies purchasing a Nastran license will be mating that to a serious workstation, I wanted to understand how the solving would fare on their existing workstations, should they want to hold off on an upgrade until later.

My first run was shoddy, and I was getting Jacobian warnings and an unexpectedly long run-time. I found one surface contact that was left to the system to determine, as well as some poorly defined mesh areas. I increased the density slightly, defined the last contact manually (which I prefer to do in Nastran), and added another constraint. The subsequent runs were cleaner with a speed that was on par with an upscale 16 GB CAD platform.

Autodesk Nastran In-CAD Output in Browser

Tip: Watch the convergence in the Output panel. This is a clear indication how Nastran is handling your model setup. If the convergences won’t get close to 100% and the iterations keep rising (within a reasonable amount of time) you may want to cut your losses and stop the analysis (and possibly reduce the model DOF).

Results to Come

Setup was quite easy to pick up on. The UI has been simplified in such a manner that it takes little review in order to setup what you want. Experienced users will get it immediately, and new users should find these methods quite easy to learn.

After the review I realized that I really need to spend a couple hours setting up a simple transient analysis with some alternate elements in order to get a better feel for the setup procedure, accessibility, and capabilities. We’ll do that in the future.

In the mean-time, I will return with the post-processing and results of this review, as well as an overall perspective for adopting this software.

Autodesk Nastran In-CAD: Interface and Features

Last year Autodesk purchased NEI Nastran. This was a good purchase because Nastran is a respected Name in analysis; it’s powerful and used in numerous industries. Furthermore, Nei developed a CAD embedded UI in Solidworks for the Nei Nastran solver, called Nastran In-Cad

Autodesk adapted In-CAD for Inventor, which now gives their Inventor users the ability to perform a large array of studies, including transient and non-linear analyses, right from the comfort of Inventor. Inventor acts as the pre and post processor for the Nastran solver.

We decided to take a look at In-CAD, and see how the UI and processor’s behaved. This article will focus on the basic features, and discussions on using the software, helpful tips, and results will be forthcoming.

User Interface

The UI is divided between a Nastran In-CAD tab, and the Browser.

Autodesk Nastran In-CAD UI

Image courtesy of Autodesk

Nastran In-CAD Ribbon tab

This displays a new set of Ribbon panels dedicated to the analysis model. These panels include settings, meshing tools, boundary condition applications, results plotting, etc.


The Browser is populated not only the Model and Assembly component sets, but three additional Nastran panels.

Nasrtan Model Tree

Nastran Model Tree is divided into the assembly and model groups. The Model group accounts for all boundary conditions and templates defined in the model. The analysis group assign these to individual analyses and subsets as the user dictates to accomplish different studies.

Nastran File

This gives users a look into the Nastran file data rather than trying to interpret everything through the CAD interface.

Nastran Output (Log)

The output window shows the progress of the Nastran run, including real-time convergence data. This browser window is displayed by default during the run process. Once solved, this output log can be reviewed as needed and the contents thereof are saved along-side the other Nastran model and results files.

Autodesk Nastran In-CAD Output

From this window the analysis can be stopped, paused, and resumed.

Autodesk Nastran solver

The Autodesk Nastran (formerly Nei Nastran) solver’s accuracy is routinely tested against the NAFEMS standards at every release. Mitch Muncy, Product Manager for Autodesk’s Nastran product came along with the Nei purchase, and has stated that the company had spent countless hours verifying every detail of the solver, to ensure that it met the advanced requirements of its customers in industries such as aviation and automotive.

Linear, static stress, thermal, and modal analyses

Prestress static – response of complex loading

Static fatigue – repeated loading cycles

Heat transfer – conduction and convection heat in examination of temperature distribution

Linear buckling – compression induced loss of stiffness

Linear statics – stress, strain, and deformation from applied static loads and constraints

Normal modes – component natural frequencies

Advanced analyses

Pre-stress normal modes- capture true stiffness when complex loading is present

Frequency response – structural harmonic response based on frequency-dependent loads

Random vibration fatigue – long-term structural robustness where operation must be characterized by power spectral density (PSD) inputs

Transient response – response through a period of time under the influence of constant or time-dependent loads

Random response – behavior due to imposed of random dynamic loads, such as road vibration, wave cycles, engine vibration, and wind loads

Nonlinear static and transient response – time-varying events including dynamic loading that result in resonant vibration or stress amplification

Superior surface contact, impact analysis, and automated drop tests – includes nonlinearities of large deformations, sliding contact, and nonlinear materials

Advanced material models – complex nonlinear phenomena, including plasticity, hyper-elasticity, and shape-memory effects

Composites – straightforward complex ply data, and progressive ply failure, including Puck and LaRC02 algorithms

Element Types and Modeling

1D, 2D, and 3D element types open a whole new world of modeling capabilities. Beam elements for example offer high performance connectivity in the model at a tiny fraction of the memory and processing power required to study a 3D meshed solid in the same situations. This offers flexibility that linear static analyses never offered.

Automatic bolt connector modeling with preload – simplified setup

Associative intelligent meshing

Autodesk Nastran In-CAD Inventor Meshed Model


We wanted to give a feel for this software to both Inventor users wanting more analysis power, as well as Nastran users that were considering a CAD based environment. The In-CAD interface brings Nastran to Inventor users, and puts a lot more power at their disposal. In our next edition I’ll take Autodesk Nastran In-CAD for a spin with a simple setup and analysis run, in order to try and give all parties a feel for what they might expect.

Autodesk Nastran In-CAD: Test Drive

AutoCAD Deep Dive Series: Dynamic Blocks Part 2

In the first part of our deep dive on dynamic blocks we explored the benefits of dynamic blocks, how they are created, and how to use parametrics to drive the dynamic block configurations. In this post lets look at an alternative to parametrics… parameters and actionsParameters and Actions actually came first. Before AutoCAD had parametrics, this was the only way to create dynamic blocks. Using Parameters & Actions has pros and cons and when to use this over parametrics is really based on the situation, the geometry, and the desired results.

1963 Oldsmobile Dynamic 88 Fiesta Station Wagon

1963 Oldsmobile Dynamic 88 Fiesta Station Wagon by Alden Jewell

Lets use the Wet Bar block included with the AutoCAD samples. I want the ability to size the width and depth of the block. I want the option to move the bottles and glasses around on the surface. To finish the block I want the option to rotate the faucet on the sink

Wet Bar Block

Think of Parameters as the nouns, defining the subject of the change. The Actions are the verbs, defining what’s actually going to happen. Parameter Sets are just the combination of specific parameters and actions. “Canned” shortcuts to simplify the process.

To apply parameters and actions you’ll need the Block Authoring Palette. If its not currently visible select the Authoring Palettes button in the ribbon > Manage panel

Block Authoring Palette

To set up the block to allow the stretching of the width and depth we require two Linear Parameters. The act of applying the Linear parameter is similar to adding a linear dimension… pick two points and then the location for the parameter. Order here is important, but only if you want one grip to appear opposed to both ends.

With the Wet Bar I want the grips to modify the size of the block in the upper right-corner. When creating the horizontal parameter I pick the left side first, then the right side. With the vertical constraint I pick the bottom first then the top point. The results look similar to this

 Dynamic Blocks Linear Parameters

Don’t be concerned about the yellow exclamation marks at this point as these are warnings that there are no actions associated with the parameters yet. To see this just roll your cursor over one of the yellow symbols.

If we try the block at this point the grips so not appear, however, before we assign the actions lets explore the parameters properties.

The name Distance1, Distance2 really doesn’t mean much…. plus if we end up with multiple Linear Parameters it will get confusing on what each one is controlling. Using the Properties Palette I’ve adjusted the Distance name to be Bar_Width and Bar_Depth. I’ve also appended Distance descriptions to help explain the parameters purpose incase I am not always the one making changes. As a bonus the description will appear as a tooltip for anyone using this block.

Linear Parameter Properties
Linear Parameter Properties

In the Misc section of the properties are options to tweak the Base location, Property Display, Chaining Actions, and the Number of Grips. Base location in this instance will remain Startpoint, but the Midpoint option is good when you want to make symmetrical type adjustments. With Show Properties set to Yes the Parameter will appear in the Property Palette when the block is selected meaning you can adjust the size of the parameter from the property palette. Finally I’m going to adjust the Number of Grips from 2 to 1 as I only want the user to adjust the size of the block from one end

Using the Value Set section I will apply an increment restriction so that the Width can only be adjust in 2-unit increments. The minimum will be 36 (the current width) and although optional I will set the max at 72. With the Depth I will configure a List with the options for 26, 32, 48. and 62.

Linear Parameter Properties

Now that we’ve decided how we want it to change lets actually make it do something. Switching to the Actions tab on the Authoring Palette I see many options, but in this case I want to apply Stretch. This highlights one of the advantages of parameters / actions over parametrics, I do not need to worry about constraining and dimensioning each and every object involved in the action, a simple crossing window will take care of it.

The process…

  • Start Stretch
  • Select the Parameter to apply the action
  • Select the grip to apply the action.
  • Define the Stretch Frame Window
  • Select the objects to be affected by the stretch

The Stretch Frame does not define the objects to be stretched but the parameter and grips that are required for the stretching action. It can be selected as a window or crossing. As this is a stretch action any object you want stretched and not moved needs to be selected by a crossing window.

Applying Stretch Action

After applying the stretch to both parameters we’re ready for testing. I do not need to apply the stretch action to both ends of the parameter as I already reduced the number of grips to 1 and I only want the user to adjust it in one direction.

What about Actions and their properties?

Stretch Action Properties

The Action Name is a good idea to change, especially as you could end up with many actions in the dynamic block and without proper names it may be difficult to determine the one to modify. The Selection Set is a method to alter the objects included in the action, both add and remove. The Distance multiplier and Angle Offset do as they describe, override the amount the action applies to the selected objects.

So we have a Width and a Depth but we don’t really want this wide open for any combination of sizes… say the Wet Bar is only available in a select few size configurations, so we should only provide these to the user. The Process to take:

  • Adjust the number of grips on the Linear parameters to 0 (we don’t want the user of the block to grip edit the size)
  • Adjust the Show Properties value on the Linear parameters to No (we don’t want the user selecting whichever size they want)
  • Add a Lookup Parameter (sets the location of the grip)
  • Add a Lookup Action to the Parameter and define the size configurations

ACAD Lookup Parameter

Dynamic Block Property Lookup Table

The way the Property Lookup Table works is the parameters you wish to control are added (via Add Properties) to the left side of the dialog. The size combinations are set here. On the Right side the name of the configurations are set. This is text which can be whatever you want. The result is something like this….

Dynamic Block with Lookup


Are your Autodesk Inventor Drawing views moving on your sheet?

Autodesk Inventor Drawing Views moved position Over the years, both myself and most of my colleagues or staff I’ve had working for me, have suffered with Inventor allowing drawing views to ‘float’ across the drawing sheet as if they have a mind of their own. The effect of this phenomenon is misaligned sections and detail views… as well as their respective dimensions and annotations becoming ‘sick’. There is a way to stop this from happening, however, frustratingly there has been a policy at Autodesk to keep legacy settings as the default settings, so as to not upset the established users. This policy even applies when it makes A LOT more sense to use the new setting instead.

Inventor View Justification

The setting under focus in this post, is the View Justification option within the Drawing tab of Application Options.Inventor Drawing View Fixed CenteredIt’s best if you set this before creating any drawings within Inventor. Otherwise each view you place will take on this setting. However, if you haven’t and you have a particularly important drawing in a bit of a state, then there is a workaround which will allow you to rectify the situation. Check out the video below for further details.


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