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Autodesk Inventor 2016: What’s New Review

This year Autodesk showed considerable effort towards caring for their existing user base, by adding 32 user requested enhancements in this release, almost 4X that of 2014. There are changes in almost every area of Inventor; from tiny improvements to dialog boxes to complete workflow overhauls; a new rendering engine was added too. The list was really long this year, and quite impressive actually. All we could do is hit some high points in this summary.

Unfortunately, not all features were extended to Inventor LT. We noted as many as we could determine with (*nLT).

User Interface

Various User Interface (UI) features have been tidied. From countless dialog box tweaks to workflows, changes include:

  • Hide all sketch dimensions
  • Import/Export iLogic external rules configuration (*nLT)
  • Numerous Visualization changes
  • All lighting styles are now associated with (IBL) Image Based Lighting.

New 3D Printing Environment

Position your design within the designated printer space and print the components directly from Inventor.

Inventor 2016 3D Print

  • Direct editing in this environment doesn’t modify the original geometry
  • Oversized components can be partitioned
  • List of commercial 3D printers

Sketch

  • Identify sketch plane source. FINALLY!!
  • Create tangent dimensions between curved geometry
  • Enhanced 3D sketch wrapping and projection

Inventor 2016 - Show Sketch Input

Parts

Parts look really exciting this year.

  • Boundary Patch no longer requires closed edge selection
  • Mirror and Pattern support multiple solid body selection
  • Create nonlinear patterns for solid bodies
  • Copy / Paste is now available from the Parameters dialog context menu
  • Surfaces used as parting lines
  • Ruled Surfaces have been added. FINALLY!!

Inventor 2016 - Pattern MultiSolids Inventor 2016 - Ruled Surface

Sheet Metal

Sheet metal is my favorite item this year; well at least so far. Great improvements include multi-body support, new features, 0-bend radii much more.

Inventor 2016 - Multibody Sheetmetal

Check out the details in our first Inventor 2016 New Sheet Metal Features Test Drive.

Freeform Environment / Edit Form

Freeform command activates a Ribbon tab providing full access to the environment.

  • Cool new Convert to Freeform command
  • Work features accessible from Ribbon tab
  • Numerous new commands and features available
  • Intelligent body management

Inventor 2016 - Convert to Freeform

Assembly

  • Analyze Interference improvements
  • Tube and Pipe(*nLT) – File names for Fittings customizable and part numbers populated in Parts Lists
  • Assembly conflict zoom-to

Color Override in Derived Components

‘Use color override from source component’ option added to Derived Assembly (*nLT), Derived Part, Make Part, and Make Component dialog boxes. A global override is available in Application Options.

Drawings

The Drawing Environment received a huge share of attention this time round. Numerous view related workflows have been cleaned up or moved to create a more direct approach of manipulation, as well as many annotation enhancements that were needed.

  • Add projected geometry to view sketches
  • New Reflection Environment settings in the drawing Document Settings – apply specular effect and specify Reflection map in a drawing (.idw) file.
  • New Hidden Line options for Content Center and Sheet Metal
  • Drawing sketch creation is now similar to creating model sketches
  • Merged Format for Dual Hole notes
  • Initial View Scale added to title blocks
  • Transparent components in Drawing Views
  • Create Drawing View from Any Open Model, then current model view orientation and representation are carried over

Overhauled Base View Creation and Editing

The In-Canvas Base View creation tools simplify workflows associated with base and projected view creation. Initial View Scale is set to a best fit and can be changed by dragging the corner to produce the new scale. Direct editing of orientation is now available, as well as a slew of refined features throughout the interface.

Inventor 2016 - Drawing Improvements

Annotation Enhancements

  • Double-click direct editing of symbols
  • Feature Control Frame enhancements
  • Split Leader corrections
  • Single segment leader option
  • One-step leader alignment
  • Symbols list reorganized and enhanced
  • Surface texture symbols updated
  • New external Sketch Symbols Library

Drawing Balloon Enhancements

Balloon creation has been enhanced, including Balloon alignment tools, split Balloons, selection and more. Custom Balloon styles can be created too.

Inventor 2016 drawing balloon improved

New Text Options

Text editing finally received some enhancements and a revamped dialog box, including bullet lists, text case, Graphics Window preview, and much more.

Inventor 2016 new drawing symbols list

Studio Visualization

  • New IBL Lighting Styles added and all custom styles automatically associated with IBL

RapidRT is now the rendering engine for Inventor Studio

Enhanced render quality with additional features:

  • Time duration/iterations/unlimited mode
  • Lighting and Material Accuracy modes

Inventor 2016 Studio Render Enhancements

Presentations (*nLT)

Presentations have been excluded from enhancement since Inventor Publisher arrived…. This year offers some relief:

  • Trail creation and editing enhanced
  • Component selection simplified
  • Enhanced Representations support
  • Triad Manipulator modernized and can be aligned to component geometry
  • Auto Explode improved and added to Ribbon

Tweak Command Enhancements

Tweak Components command is redesigned to include direct manipulation. A mini-toolbar is available with new commands including Undo option.

Inventor 2016 Presentations - Default Trails

Dynamic previewing of tweaks now occurs, and components are rolled back during tweak editing to preview the changes.

  • Tweaked component selection sets amended dynamically
  • Enhanced Trail editing and manual creation
  • In-Canvas editing of distance and angle

Interoperability

Autodesk continues to merge the seams between CAD model versions, with some focus on AutoCAD and non-native formats.

  • Simplified importing of non-Autodesk CAD files

Associativity

Associative CAD file import maintains and updates links with:

  • SolidWorks
  • CATIA
  • NX
  • Pro-E/Creo
  • Alias

AutoCAD Electrical and Inventor (*nLT)

A New Electromechanical Tab has been added to the Ribbon. The New Electromechanical link between Inventor and AutoCAD Electrical provides smooth data exchange and update between the two.

Other Enhancements

  • Multi-thread support (Single processor only)
  • 64 bit only support for Inventor 2016 through Win 8.1 (LT still supports 32-bit)

Detailed What’s New Posts

Autodesk Inventor 2016 Now Uses Any CAD format

Sketching a Circle Around the Competition with Inventor 2016

Autodesk Inventor 2016 – Drawing Environment Improvements

Presenting Inventor 2016 (What’s New With Presentations?)

Autodesk Inventor 2016: Sheet Metal New Features

Thank You!

Thank you to our team for pumping out this series of posts:

There will be plenty more to come about Inventor 2016 in the coming weeks and months.

Autodesk Inventor 2016 Now Uses Any CAD format

Ok, not quite any CAD format, but all the really important ones are covered; Solidworks, CATIA, NX, Pro Engineer and PTC Creo. Hey, what did you say? you may be asking… Yes Autodesk Inventor 2016 will now natively import and maintain associativity with all major CAD file formats. BOOM! Now that guys & gals, is a game changer for the wider CAD / CAM industry.

Autodesk Inventor 2016 Multi-CAD

Why’s it a Game Changer?

There are plenty multi-CAD workplaces knocking about, whether that’s because of mergers, legacy decisions in different departments or a heavy reliance on contract design staff. But this is also a big deal for the CAM users out there, those guys are receiving various data formats from all their clients every day… and they are also subject to in process change just like everyone else is.

In the way the Navisworks changed the way multi-disciplinary design review was carried out forever (and it’s competitors), Autodesk Inventor’s Multi-CAD functionality promises to do the same for the modelling process itself. Yes, PTC got in there first with Creo 3.0 delivering their Unite Technology supporting Solidworks, CATIA and NX files. Inventor 2016 supports those same file formats, as well as PTC Creo, Pro Engineer Wildfire and Autodesk Alias. I never got the opportunity to try out Unite in Creo 3.0, so I can’t compare real-world functionality unfortunately.

How does it work?

I have absolutely no clue, beyond knowing the translators in use are from a 3rd party* (which other CAD vendors will also be using) and a heavy dose of wizardry from the Autodesk developers! What I do know, is you can open any of the supported file types, either parts or assemblies, straight into an Inventor part or assembly. You even get to read the BOM of the source files via Inventor’s Bill Of Materials dialog. Check out this video to see how it’s done:

Does it work?

I’ve only been able to test it using datasets created in Solidworks 2015 SP1.1. So I can’t speak for the other file formats at this stage, but the harsh reality is there are issues. Bearing in mind that there is a lot of Black Magic going on here, it is hardly surprising. However, this is the first release of the technology and I have no doubt that PTC’s Unite Technology will have issues as well. But the great thing is, both of these companies are having a go at breaking down the barriers put up by competing CAD file formats.

The problems I have encountered initially are:

  • 80% of the time a projected edge from a Multi-CAD source will fail on update when the source model geometry around it changes.
  • Geometry changes within the boundary of the Multi-CAD model work better than changes which result in the overall model size changing.
  • Assembly Joints & Constraints are a bit hit & miss at release, but those relationships are more stable than sketch projections are.

So basically, if you stick to a bottom > up modelling workflow with these components you are more likely to succeed than using a top > down approach.

I did manage to program a native Solidworks part file, inside Inventor HSM though and maintain an associative relationship:

DWG Underlay

Another excellent feature which arrives under the ‘Multi-CAD’ banner, is the AutoCAD DWG Underlay. I was honestly speechless when I saw this for the first time. Having worked with Inventor in the Super Yacht interiors industry for 10 years, I’m acutely aware of how poorly Inventor handles large amounts of AutoCAD 2D objects. General Arrangement plans are highly detailed beasts in the marine (and aerospace) industry, because they’ve historically been used to sell yachts there is a lot of stylized line work. It can be a pain to clean it all up, only to receive another version the following week. God I wish I had this tool in the past. Feast your eyes on this:

* Digging through the Autodesk Inventor Trademarks and credits declaration, you will find a reference to CADCAM-E.COM. Credit to a very curious colleague of mine for finding that!

Autodesk Inventor 2016: Sheet Metal New Features

My favorite addition to Inventor 2016 is most likely Sheet Metal. That’s not to say that other great enhancements were less impressive, but that sheet metal design has been waiting on these improvements for some time.

Autodesk Inventor Sheet Metal Multi-Body

These improvements include:

  • Zero bend radius support
  • Material thickness detection in standard part to sheet metal part conversion
  • Punch tool shows center selection count
  • Dialog Enhancements

Multi-body Support for Sheet Metal

This is the cat’s meow; Top down workflows through Make Components and Make Parts allows users to write out components and generate separate flat patterns.

New Solid body option includes Face, Contour Flange, Contour Roll, Lofted Flange, and Split, with multi-body workflows for many others.

During the ‘Convert Part to Sheet Metal’ command, sheet thicknesses are automatically determined by detection from a selected face when prompted.

A Quick Run-Through

I needed to put something to the test and then show here, because most of my readers are “all text and no pictures makes Jack bored silly”. I didn’t have but an hour to spend, so I threw this seal mount together, and later decided to integrate it into a bulkhead instead.

Sheet Metal Part Creation

I started with a 2D sketch, from which I turned a contour roll of 0.063” aluminum with 1.5” flanges in a single motion. I unfolded the half circle shape, so that I essentially had an L-angle, and added two mating end flanges, as well as the bolt and rivet holes by rectangular pattern.

Finally I refolded the structure (still amazing and cool that all the features hold together), and added a circular pattern of two components to copy the structure around the circle, making sure to pick the New Body option.

Autodesk Inventor 2016: Sheet metal make components

Inventor created a mating duplicate body, both of which I quickly wrote out to an assembly using the Create Components command. As you might imagine, the two components were placed and grounded just as if they were regular part bodies.

Flat Patterns

I remembered reading how flat patterns were associated with each individual part file, so I edited one, and sure enough, the option to Edit Flat Pattern was there.

AWESOME!!!!

Autodesk Inventor 2016: Sheet Metal Flat pattern

Another Body

I returned to the multi-body sheet metal part, and turned off the lower seal ring support. I created a Face for a new body, and added another contour roll, flanges, and fasteners with typical operations.

Once again I wrote the part out, and used Component Replace to swap the bulkhead into the lower seal ring’s place.

Yep, you guessed it, it worked perfectly.

0 Bend Radius Support

I thought that it would be a good idea to test the 0 bend radius on this odd back and forth operation I had going. I edited the upper seal contour roll, and changed the radius to 0. Everything updated properly. Inside radius was 0, and outside of sheet radius was the sheet thickness.

Autodesk Inventor 2016: Sheet Metal 0 bend radius

Conclusion

I am quite happy to get multi-body sheet metal into Inventor finally, a functional part of the overall design process. Is there anything remaining that needs to be handled?

Sure, like more aviation type manipulations for example. However, these additions are a real winning addition and are something that we can build new workflows from immediately.

Sketching a Circle Around the Competition with Inventor 2016

Inventor 2016 is pumped full of new features which makes it difficult to take it all in. Many of the new features will go unnoticed or unused as you try to understand and use the “big” new features. Take sketching for example, nothing mind blowing here, but a couple nice little enhancements to make the nitty-gritty day-to-day sketching just a little bit easier

General

Identify the Sketch Source Plane. This gets a thumbs up from Scott. You can quickly Identify the Sketch Source Plane by right-clicking on the sketch (within the browser) and selecting Show Input. The face or plane the sketch was created on highlights (thumbs up). However, although the workplane highlights and displays the workplane name, it does not select it nor locate it within the browser (thumbs down)

Inventor 2016 Sketching - Show Inputs

Inventor 2016 Sketching - Show Inputs WorkPlanes

Share the sketch by dragging it above its feature in the browser. Can’t think I’ve ever wished this, but I know I’ll be using it from now on!

The Wrap to Surface option of Project to Surface is now more predictable, especially when wrapping to multiple surfaces.

The right click object snap menu has additional options: Endpoint, Apparent Intersection, Quadrant, and Mid of 2 points.

Inventor 2016 Sketching - Object Snaps

Dimensioning

Create Tangent Dimensions Between Circular or Arc Geometry

Inventor 2016 Sketching - Tangent Dimensions

Hiding Sketch Dimensions is now in the Object Visibility list, available in both parts and assemblies.

Inventor 2016 Sketching - Object Visibility

Constraints

Show All Constraints Persistence…. turn on Show All Constraints and it remains on as you sketch, even as you add geometry. Previously it only showed the constraints for the objects that existed when it was turned on.

Presenting Inventor 2016 (What’s New With Presentations?)

Described as the “red-headed stepchild” of Inventor in our introduction post on Inventor 2016, the Presentation environment has gone a long (and I mean a long) time without any updates, tweaks, changes, improvements, or really anything to write home about. The Presentation Environment remained almost identical to when it was first introduced in R2 of the software…. and that was in 2000! What else within Inventor has remained unchanged for 15 years?

So although there is still lots of room for improvement, I’m glad to finally see some much-needed enhancements. So what’s new?

I put the updates into these two categories:

  • Environment brought up to par
  • Improved Tweaking

Environment / UI Enhancements

Many of the enhancements to the Presentation environment have been in other places for the past couple of years, but it doesn’t make it any less impactful for building the exploded views.

Window Selection

Components can be selected by both window and crossing selections. You don’t really truly understand how much you missed something until you have it. Being able to quickly select objects by a window selection can significantly streamline the process.

Inventor 2016 Presentations - Window

Representations

You’ve always been able to set the Representations on Presentation View creation, but now you can switch the active Design View at any time... not just during creation. In addition, the associative option can be enabled or disabled whenever. What does Associative do? If enabled, changes to the assembly’s design view automatically update within the Presentation. This includes component visibility and component color

Inventor 2016 Presentations - Representations

Browser Views

Gone is the little filter icon with no indication of which browser view is active. Within 2016, it behaves as the Part and Assembly browser.

Inventor 2016 Presentations - Browser Filter

Tweak Components Minitoolbar

The big, clunky, dialog is gone! Replaced with the newer style Minitoolbar. Everything is accessible from one compact interface. This includes the option to change the selection filter WHILE you are applying tweaks!

Inventor 2016 Presentations - Mini Toolbars

Tweaks

Triad Manipulator

At first glance it might seem like a small thing… whoo hooo they changed the icon to represent tweak direction. However, its more, you are now forced to use the triad meaning no more unintentional selection of additional components not intended for the current tweak operation. To tweak a component click-and-drag on the triad arrow in the direction you want to tweak the component. Another great enhancement is with the Triad comes in-canvas text boxes. As you click on the triad and apply tweaks you can also specify exact values.

Inventor 2016 Presentations - In Canvas TextIt’s also important to note that when you initially position the triad, it automatically selects the component it is snapped to.

Move vs. Continous Move

This is a nice little enhancement. To mimic 2015 (and older) behavior, use the Continous Move option. As you apply tweaks the components remain selected. This builds a workflow in which you can tweak a group of components, apply the tweak, then shift + select to deselect a component (or more), and continue to apply tweaks. With the Move option, the components are tweaked and when applied the components are all deselected.

Select Sets

When applying a tweak the selected components can be dynamically adjusted, adding and removed components. The preview automatically updates as you add and remove components to the selection set, even after you’ve started to apply the tweak. Even better than this is that it now extends to editing tweaks. This means you can modify an existing tweak to add a component or remove components from the tweak. No more creating a new tweak to match up the component already tweaked.

Dynamic Previews / Undo

Tweaks now preview before being applied! You can now undo during the tweaking process! Enough said

Auto Explode

It used to be all or nothing… you auto exploded the components at view creation or you didn’t explode it at all. Auto Explode is now its own ribbon icon meaning the assembly can be exploded at any time during the process OR selected objects of the assembly can be auto exploded.

Inventor 2016 Presentations - Auto Explode

Trails

Trails, I know you don’t like me and I don’t like you, but we need together” Who hasn’t said this about trails at least once during their time in Inventor? Trails definitely got some lovin’ in this release

First, there are now four “default” trail options as you are building tweaks…. None to not create trails, Components to only add trails to top-level components, All Parts to apply trails to everything, and Single to apply a single trail to all the components being actively tweaked…. Brilliant!

Inventor 2016 Presentations - Default Trails

The new trail selection filter (used when either creating or editing a trail) provides the means to delete or add either the full trail (following all tweaks) or a trail for a portion of the path.

Inventor 2016 Presentations - Trail Filters

See it in Action!

Autodesk Inventor 2016 – Drawing Environment Improvements

I used to spend most of my waking hours creating Inventor drawings during certain stages of projects, a few years back. Thankfully, those days are over, now that I’m working for a reseller, and I don’t spend nearly as much time in the drawing environment anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I really like the environment, but I’m sure monotony sets in for anyone who does hundreds of drawings a year in any package. Having said all that, I sure wish some of the new drawing features that Autodesk have put into the 2016 release, were available back then, as they would have made things just that little bit easier.

Let’s get straight into it.

Creating a new Drawing:

You have been able to open a model file, RMB in the browser and select “OpenDrawing” for the last few releases. That was useful, but the drawing had to have been created first. What you can do now, is get the model into the orientation and configuration (view / positional reps) in the modelling environment, and then RMB on the filename in the browser and then select “Create Drawing View.” This automatically teleports you into the drawing environment, and leaves you at the view placement stage, with all the relevant settings pre-configured. Small detail, but a nice touch.

Create Drawing View in 2016Create Drawing View

View Placement:

This is the area which has had the biggest overhaul in the 2016 release. View placement is much more streamlined than it used to be, and gives far more control. On base view placement, a manipulator pops up which allows you to move, scale, and generate new views. A nifty addition is the inclusion of a View Cube, which allows you to rotate the base view, and all the projected views will also rotate to suit. A nifty trick with the scaling, is that you can hold the CTRL key while you drag the arrow, to avoid it “snapping” to standard scales. This is useful if you don’t use scales on your drawings and want to simply adjust the size of the view for the best fit.

Place ViewsView Placement Enhancements

Balloons:

There have been a number of improvements to ballooning, including a really handy “Align to Edge” option, the ability to use a sketched symbol as your ballon shape, and a window selection to align balloons. There is also supposed to be an improvement to the “Auto Balloon” placement, but I have not had a lot of success getting it to give better results. The leaders don’t cross over each other as much anymore, but the placement of the arrowheads doesn’t seem very neat or logical.

The little details:

  • Sketch creation behaviour is more consistent between drawings and models now. What I mean by that, is you can now click the “Start Sketch” command in a drawing first, and then decide which view or sheet you want to sketch on. You used to have to pick the view first, which was frustrating.
  • One thing that used to annoy me, was that a section view would section nuts and bolts, and other fasteners by default, and you would have to go through and manually remove them from the section participation. This is now fixed, and they are not sectioned by default.
  • A lot of small incremental improvements have been made to leaders, sketched symbols. One of note, is you now have the ability to define a shared “Sketched Symbol” library so that your custom symbols can be shared across your team. I really hope Autodesk do this for Sketch Blocks next!
  • It was pointed out to me that there is currently an issue with editing a Section-view definition sketch. If you RMB the section line in the view, and then select “Edit Sketch” it actually takes you to a new sketch, not the one you want to edit. The workaround is to RMB the sketch entry in the browser, and then edit it from there.
  • If you’re creating a drawing of an .ipn, and want to use a saved view. It’s not immediately obvious to find that option anymore, as it has been moved. In the new View Creation dialog, while placing a view of the .ipn, RMB the View Cube and then select “Saved View” to access your saved .ipn view.
  • Often users will need to place a view with a custom orientation. In previous releases you could achieve this via a button in the Drawing View dialog. Now it’s stashed away in the View Cube context menu.

Autodesk Inventor 2016 Saved Camera View

All in all, I think these new features and enhancements should add up to realise some time savings for Inventor users who create a lot of drawings.

Now, back to playing with T-splines!

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