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A lesson from history… the Death of Inventor and the Move to Fusion 360

Inventor’s Death?

Is Inventor’s death a real possibility? How could Autodesk kill a product that is a market leader, is used by thousands of people, and has a strong (loyal) community of users? They definitely can and have done so before.

Mechanical Desktop

Picture this. It is 1999 and the so-called midrange modelers are now the dominate players in the 3D modeling market. Autodesk’s Mechanical Desktop, the new-to-the-market SOLIDWORKS, SolidEdge, and others were really changing the playing field. No longer were the old-boys club of ProEngineer, Catia, and Unigraphics ruling the roost. No longer did you have to spend tens of thousands of dollars to do 3D modeling. For most organizations, you could be very proficient spending just between $5000 and $10,000.

MDT 4 Box Shot

As already mentioned, the main 3D mechanical modeling system for Autodesk at the time was Mechanical Desktop (MDT). MDT was based on AutoCAD, acquired technology, and internally developed features.

When I entered the workforce in 1998 it was for an Autodesk reseller. MDT was an easy sell. It was an Autodesk product and existing AutoCAD customers could upgrade to MDT for a significantly less amount than buying SOLIDWORKS or SolidEdge.

In addition to costing less, as it was based on AutoCAD. We would show existing customers that they could continue to use their AutoCAD templates, borders, title blocks, layer schemes, block (symbol) libraries, and the icing-on-the-cake easily move their 2D drawings to 3D parametric models. Since it was based on AutoCAD, MDT’s detailing and annotation tools were easily the best in the market. I might even argue that there is no system today that provides the same level of flexibility to detail, as well as MDT could.

MDT 2004

Add it all up and selling MDT was as much of a slam dunk as you could have…. well, at least for existing Autodesk customers.

The next versions of Mechanical Desktop, based on AutoCAD R14 and 2000, brought along significant new features, functionality, and workflows.

But then something happened….(dramatic pause)…. Autodesk released Inventor (gasp)!

A New Beginning… Autodesk Inventor

Autodesk passed on the opportunity to purchase SOLIDWORKS as they were secretly working on their own “modern” system. This product, codenamed Rubicon, would go on to become the Autodesk Inventor we all know and love.


New Beginning by Scott Robinson

Autodesk recognized they were seriously handcuffed developing on top of AutoCAD. They knew they needed something built from the ground up, focussed solely on mechanical 3D modeling for manufacturing.

As easy as it was to sell MDT to existing Autodesk customers, it was almost impossible to sell to non-Autodesk customers. As it was based on AutoCAD it seemed adequated and difficult to use, especially compared to the likes of SOLIDWORKS and SolidEdge. In addition, MDT was actually cumbersome to use plus it lacked some of the advanced bells-and-whistles as its competitors.

Autodesk Drops the Ball

What was a bit scary at the time for resellers, now seems a bit humorous. Autodesk so badly read the market and stumbled out of the gate with Inventor.

Autodesk touted Inventor as the “ProE Killer“. This was at a pre-Creo time, where ProEngineer was still king of the market. Autodesk sold hard on Inventor’s adaptivity, its large modeling database, its ease-of-use, and modern “clean” user interface.

The message from Autodesk to its resellers was to continue pushing MDT on the existing customer base and aim high by selling Inventor to the ProE, Catia, UG, and Ideas users.

As you can imagine things fell apart quickly. Autodesk Inventor, as a release 1, lacked features to really complete. Although Autodesk worked hard by ramping up the releases quickly there was no way Inventor could compete with ProE, UG, and the high-end modelers. A ProE killer it was not.

Inventor 1.0 could not import 2D DWG nor could it import MDT 3D models. Since Autodesk was looking elsewhere, they did not think it was important to include AutoCAD with Inventor. They didn’t want to murky the waters.

As much as the Autodesk customer base liked MDT they immediately felt betrayed and many pissed off that Autodesk was introducing a new product. The way Autodesk marketed and promoted Inventor and almost instantly ignored MDT, made customers start to question the life of MDT. It didn’t help that the quantity of new features in MDT quickly started to dwindle. The writing was on the wall.

Inventor Rebirth and the Struggles for MDT Users

Fast forward two years (say 2001ish) and Autodesk did an 180 when they realized they missed the boat. They first started including AutoCAD with your Inventor purchase. Then soon after started including MDT. This correlated with Inventor’s new abilities to import both 2D AutoCAD drawings and 3D MDT models.  They decided to leave the old-boys club alone and focus on their existing customer base and the other mid-range modelers.

The problem was it was not always such an easy task for MDT users to make the switch. Sure, you could import your existing MDT models and for the most part, it did a really good job. However, many organizations had processes and workflows (like data management) in place that worked with AutoCAD and MDT but could not work with Inventor without a significant investment. Also, MDT could annotate and detail well, while Inventor really lacked in this area.

death - a self portrait

Death – A Self Portrait by Liz Kcer

MDT 6 was the last release to include new features of significance and MDT immediately went into maintenance mode (although this was never made official at the time). Autodesk continued to rev bump MDT but the only new features were whatever was new in AutoCAD. Eventually, they made the decision and officially killed MDT. Now MDT users HAD to make the switch.

Autodesk Fusion 360

Now we fast forward to 2014. Inventor, which was once touted as cutting edge and the future of modeling, is now the grizzled veteran. Autodesk has sold Inventor into thousands of companies and it has a very large and very loyal user community.

However, Autodesk has decided to dive into “the cloud” and other new bleeding-edge technology head first. Their existing product has too much history to be adopted to the cloud, so they have introduced a new product. This new product is developed from the ground up to utilize things like the cloud to its advantage. This new product, Fusion 360, quickly becomes Autodesk’s poster child. Fusion is arguably Autodesk’s most marketed products. All sounds too familiar, doesn’t it?

All sounds too familiar, doesn’t it?

What’s Old is New Again… or is it What was New is Now Old Again?

Inventor’s Death must be upon us, right? That’s the view of many people.

During the Autodesk Keynote, there was very little on Inventor (or Revit, or Civil 3D, or AutoCAD, or any desktop product). It was clearly apparent that Fusion 360 has the bling, the bam, and all the swagger. Walk around the AU exhibit hall and again it is all about Fusion and the customers who are using Fusion.

Inventor along with all of Autodesk’s desktop software is going to disappear. The writing is clearly on the wall. However, I don’t think it is going to happen as quickly as what some are predicting.

Things are much different this time compared to the introduction of Inventor. I think Autodesk learned their lesson last time and will not let history repeat itself (let us all hope at least).

First, Autodesk is not aiming pie-in-the sky with Fusion. Currently, Fusion 360 is aimed at individuals, hobbyists, start-ups, and smaller companies. This is currently much different market than Inventors. Secondly, Fusion is not aimed at “killing” any one system… it is the killer of all of them! (sorry, couldn’t resist)

I also truly feel Autodesk recognizes the value they have with their Inventor product and the significance of the large and very loyal customer base. Inventor’s Death does not feel imminent as Autodesk appears to be in no rush to move us Inventor users into Fusion 360.

Inventor Still has a Heart Beat

At Autodesk Univerity, I heard Carl Bass (Autodesk’s CEO) twice publically commit to Inventor having 5 to 10 years to go.  He did say however that we will start to see it become more focused, especially in areas of its strengths like industrial machinery design. He also did not say that Autodesk would be actively developing it during its entire “life” either.

Autodesk is also maintaining a substantial development team on Inventor. In fact, they just added to it by moving the Vault development team within the Inventor group. The Inventor beta program is the envy of all the other Autodesk product groups, and even non-Autodesk developers. We’ve seen two Inventor 2017 subscription releases providing strong feature enhancements. What I’ve seen upcoming for Inventor 2018 is very promising.

Let’s Get This Rolling!

I would love to start using Fusion 360 in my day-job, especially for conceptual design…. but I don’t (at least for now). Why? Numerous reasons, the biggest being the lacking detailing tools and the inability to get the data into Vault, attached to items, and sent to our ERP system when the conceptual model is ready for production.

Why did it take MDT users so long to move into Inventor? Because it was all-or-nothing. You could tinker with Inventor but could not seriously use it with the lack of integration with existing processes.

Autodesk has already provided access to Fusion 360 to Inventor users in the form of it being included with the Product Design Suite / Collection. However, if Autodesk wants Inventor users to start moving to Fusion 360 now, they should make it easy for them to utilize Fusion data within Inventor. Then the Inventor user can use Fusion 360 where it makes sense, yet still incorporate the data in with their existing processes.

STEP 1 – Connected AnyCAD for Fusion 360 Data

Think about it, I’ve got countless assemblies, parts, components, drawings, and a content library of hardware that I’ve spent a significant amount of time developing. I’ve also got well-established processes.

So step 1 should be an easy and eloquent means to associatively use Fusion 360 data within Inventor.  No more exporting to STEP and non-associatively attaching / importing into Inventor. Let’s get Inventor connected to A360 so that I can associatively place Fusion models into my Inventor assemblies. As the Fusion design changes, it would update within the Inventor assembly. I would call this Connected AnyCAD as it combines the AnyCAD workflow and the Connected Design.

It is probably too late for this for Inventor 2018, so let’s get this in for the Inventor 2018 R1 update.

Autodesk would then expand on this to include Fusion multi-body support. I want to open the Fusion design in Inventor as multi-body parts. I don’t expect to modify them within Inventor, perhaps just add features, but I want the ability to use the Make Components feature to generate parts and build the assemblies. You could then detail those parts within the much more robust drawing environment and generate the required Bill of Materials. And I can place the assembly further up the hierarchy. Again it is all associative meaning that it changes in Fusion it changes in Inventor.

Step 2 – A360 Data Management within Vault

If I place a Fusion 360 model into Inventor I want this link tracked within Vault. I envision a system where clicking on the file within Vault opens a window into A360 in which I can preview the file. It should lock the file within A360 only allowing editing once the file is checked-out. It’ll be a somewhat unique scenario where that actual data does not reside on the local server, but in the cloud, yet Vault is still managing its lifecycle. I’m ok with this being a Vault Pro only feature, as really the true goal is linking it to an item so that it can be pushed in PLM or ERP systems.

It’ll be a somewhat unique scenario where that actual data does not reside on the local server, but in the cloud, yet Vault is still managing its lifecycle. Or perhaps its shared ownership between Vault and Fusion Lifecycle.

Let’s Wrap This Up

Inventor’s Death is coming but I don’t think its time to proclaim the sky is falling.

We still have years of Inventor usage in front of us. However, you would be foolish to not keep an eye on Fusion 360 and even go one more step of trying it out. Fusion 360 is included within the Product Design Collection and is free for individuals. You have no excuse to start using it now to prepare yourself for the inevitable.


Feature Image “Cemetary” by Karoly Lorentey

How Inventor 2017 Rocks with R3!

Inventor 2017.3

Inventor 2017.3 is here, delivering fixes, updates, and feature enhancements. Just like R2, this is only available for subscription customers.

R3 piggybacks on the updates provided in Inventor 2017 R2. No new functionality, but time-saving enhancements. Some of these updates will make you question how you ever lived without them.


  • Measure Enhancements
  • Crossing window selecting of closed profiles
  • 3D PDF enhancement

Want to restart the Measure command? Just click in the graphics windows. Wishing for dual units (Foot – Architectural)? Your wish is granted.

Inventor 2017 R3 Dual Units on Measure

How about using a crossing window to select multiple (closed) profiles? Boom… you can now. This is integrated into extrude, revolve, sweep, coil, chamfer, and fillet.

Inventor 2017 R3 Crossing for Features

3D PDF creation is “significantly” faster and supports View Representation colour overrides.


  • Easier tangency selection
  • Redefinable projected sketch references
  • Auto Project enhancements
  • New Look At App Option updates
  • 3D Sketch mini-toolbar
  • Convert Sketch text to geometry

Inventor 2017 R2 introduced the double-click-select-tangent-faces workflow. Inventor 2017.3 expands this workflow into the sketch Project Geometry feature. With Project Geometry active, double-click a face or edge and all tangent connected objects are selected and projected.

Projected References are no longer lost when you redefine the sketch plane. This applies to all types including projected, cut edge, and cross-part reference.

Inventor 2017 R3 Redefine Sketch

When dimensioning or adding constraints, selecting a plane perpendicular to the sketch is now projected automatically. Previously you had to manually project the plane.

The Application Options (Sketch tab) expands the “Look at sketch plane on sketch creation” setting. The new options provide the ability to now toggle the option separately for part and assembly documents.

Inventor 2017 R3 Application Options

The 3D Sketch environment got a bit of loving with the introduction of mini-toolbars. This brings the user interface (UI) up to par with the other part modeling environments.

Got text in a sketch and wish it was sketched geometry instead? Well, have no fear, Inventor 2017.3 provides a new right-click Convert to Geometry feature. This new feature converts text to sketch geometry like lines and arcs. The converted geometry is NOT associative to the original text.

Inventor 2017 R3 Convert Text

Analyze Interference

Analyze Interference provides many new enhancements. This includes the new Treat subassemblies as components option which when enabled ignores the interferences within sub-assemblies.

The results continue to show information about each interference but now includes options to filter the results by interference type. Interference can be ignored (or un-ignored) by right-clicking on it within the list. This also includes an option to ignore all interference volumes equal to or smaller than the selected interference.

Inventor 2017 R3 Interference Updates

A tooltip appears on mismatched threads, highlighting four interference types: misaligned, non-matching thread designation, mismatched left / right threads, and non-matching thread lengths.

If you copy the results, the interference type is included in a new Note column.


Guided Tutorial Author

You now have the ability to publish your own tutorials, sharing them privately within your firm or publically to whoever wants to use them. [I’m going to do a deep dive into this at a later time]


BIM Content

Inventor has had Building Information Modeling (BIM) features built into it for quite a few releases.

Inventor 2017 R3 provides a new workflow to prepare your Inventor models for use as BIM Content via Configurator 360.

Autodesk Revit uses the OmniClass 2006 product classifications and codes, so Inventor’s OmniClass selections have been expanded to the same.



Feature image R3 by daniel zimmel

Inventor Sheetmetal Corner Seams (A Quick Tip)

Inventor Sheetmetal Corner Seams

A while ago I did a series of posts on Inventor Sheetmetal, including a specific “deep dive” into using Corner Seams. I ran into a scenario the other day that at first had me stumped, but when I remembered the power of the Corner Seam, the challenge proved to be a piece of cake for Inventor!

Here’s a simplified version of the scenario. The part was created within the context of an assembly and disjointed sheetmetal faces were established to create the basis of the part.

Inventor Corner Seams Scenario

The problem is that because of how the faces overlap you can not use the Bend to connect the faces. This is where the Corner Seams saves the day. It “preps” the edges for the application of the bends.

Inventor Corner Seams Prep

With the Corner Seam applied, the Bend now works between the edges. This completes the part

Inventor Corner Seams Apply the Bend

A short post, but hopefully helps someone else struggling in the same scenario.




Feature Image PROJlhopgood Sackboy’s Corner

Autodesk Inventor 2017 R2

Autodesk Inventor 2017 R2

The first subscription-only update for Inventor 2017 has been released.

What’s New? Unlike the Inventor 2016 mid-year releases, this one is not focused on new functionality, but a collection of enhancements, improvements, and updates to just about every environment. I’m only highlighting what I feel are the significant updates, you can read the entire list of changes here.

Your first reaction might be disappointment, why? The 2016 mid-year releases set the bar so high with the introduction of the Shape Generator, the embedding of ForceEffect, and the new A360 Connected design review, that this update might just seem ho-hum. I’m happy with the enhancements, and we should all be… there is a lot put into this update and it’s focused on productivity and making our (Inventor) lives better.


  • Measure Improvements
  • Model Browser enhancements
  • Workflow Enhancements

A checkmark now appears next to the default measure precision. The precision is also now persistent across sessions meaning you can set it and forget it.

INV2017R2 - Measure Checkmark

The browser has been updated to provide better clarity. Lines are shown to aid in the display of the model hierarchy, there is now a bigger difference between expanded and collapsed states, and it is much easier to navigate the hierarchy. This might seem like a minor change, but its amazing how much easier it makes navigating the browser.

INV2017R2 - BrowserEnhancements

Use Alt + R to launch the Relationships dialog when a feature is selected in the browser. This was an idea from the Inventor Ideastation.

Sketches now maintain their properties when exported to an AutoCAD DWG.

The Undo / Redo now functions like the other Autodesk products in that you can use the drop-down to quickly undo / redo a group of actions. This was an idea from the Inventor Ideastation.

INV2017R2 - Undo_Redo_Updates



  • New Menu Options for Make Part & Make Components
  • Tangent feature selection enhancements

From the browser or graphics window select sketch blocks, solid bodies, or surface bodies and select Make Part or Make Component from the right-click context menu.

INV2017R2 - MakePartComponent

With Inventor 2017 R2 double-clicking a face or edge selects all faces or edges tangent to each other. After selecting multiple faces right-click and pick Select Tangencies to select all the faces tangent. Anything to make it easier to select a group of objects is always a winner in my books.

Inventor2017R2 - Select Tangencies


A long time coming, we finally get Mirror and Copy enhancements.

  1. Prior to Inventor 2017 R2 relationships were automatically applied to the mirrored or copied components, now within R2 you decide if you want the relationships applied.
  2. A new option grounds the resulting components of the mirror or copy operation.
  3. When mirroring you can select Origin planes directly within the Mirror Components dialog.

Inventor2017R2 - Mirror Enhancements


  • Quickly Customize Properties for Imported CAD Files with the New Property Mapping Tool
  • DWG Underlay Now Fully Supports AutoCAD Mechanical Geometry

When attaching CATIA, Creo, NX, STEP, or Solidworks files as reference models use the new standalone Property Mapping Utility to map properties from the 3rd party CAD data to Inventor iProperties. This means the 3rd party CAD data will automatically import during attachment, meaning no more manual entry.

INV2017 R2 - AnyCAD Property Mapping

As the mapping is stored in XML files it will be consistent and automatically set each time you attach the data. This also means you can create as many mappings as required. Take for example you receive Solidworks data from two different sources, each who use the properties differently, no problem, just create two XML files and set the mapping as required.

INV2017 R2 - Import Design Data

The Property Mapping tool is standalone, meaning in addition to launching it from within Inventor it is also its own menu item in the Start Menu.


  • Reorder Attached Balloons with the new Sort Balloons Context Menu Option
  • Specify a Hatch Pattern as SOLID
  • Enhancements to Revision Tables and Parts Lists Exported Excel Formats
  • Improvements to Deferring Updates on a Drawing
  • Save Time Printing Multiple Drawings with Auto-Size to Drawing Sheet Size [Task Scheduler]
  • Align Multiple Center Marks in a Drawing to the Selected Edge

Yes, you read that right… we can finally after all this time finally apply actual SOLID hatch patterns… whoop, whoop… no longer do I need to set the scale so small that the ANSI hatch pattern just appears as solid. [This was a long time ideastation suggestion]

INV2017 R2 - Solid Hatch

When you collect balloons onto a single leader the new Sort Balloons now sorts the balloons numerically. Great little cleanup tool. My wish, how about picking Sort Balloons a second time and it sorts it in the opposite order?

INV 2017 R2 - Sort Balloons

Another implemented IdeaStation suggestion is the ability to align multiple select Center Marks. [I haven’t counted, but there has to be a least a dozen ideastation suggestions implemented with this update]

INV2017 R2 - Align Multi Center Marks

Presentation Enhancements

  • New Create Presentation options
  • Multiple Action Editing
  • Edit the Duration of Multiple Actions:
  • Local/World Direction
  • Publish Images with a Transparent Background
  • Performance Improvements for Presentations

Directly within the Assembly / Weldment browser, you can create a new presentation by right-clicking on the top-level node and selecting Create Presentation. The second option is pressing Alt + P. This is another suggestion from the Inventor Ideastation.

INV2017 R2 - Create Presentation


Multiple areas with the Presentation environment have received performance improvements. This includes trail & component selection, deleting tweaks & storyboards, and creating storyboards from previous storyboards.

The Auto Explode feature has been removed. Hopefully, you didn’t rely on it. I for one never used it as it usually ended up creating more cleanup work for me then just creating the tweaks manually myself.

Mesh components are now supported within Presentations and are treated just as other solids.

The Presentation environment went under quite the overhaul with Inventor 2017 and let’s be honest, for as good as the changes are there were a couple annoying workflow limitations. One of the biggest has been addressed with this update in that you can now modify multiple actions at one time.

Within the timeline select multiple actions by pressing Ctrl as you make your selections, then drag and drop the actions to the desired location. You can drag and drop the actions before or after existing tweaks and it will maintain the relationship between the actions with different start / end times. You can also drag the end to adjust the duration (length) of the actions.

With multiple actions selected, right-click, and from the contextual menu select:

INV2017 R2 - Timeline Multi Right Click

  • Edit Time to set the specific duration
  • Align Start Time or Align End Time to align the start / end positions
  • All Before, All After, and Group to select all actions occurring before or after the selected action or playhead position.

When editing multiple Opacity actions at one time all selected components will get the same opacity value.


Inventor 2017 Service Pack 1

This also includes all the updates contained within Service Pack 1 for Inventor 2017. If you are not on subscription then I would still highly recommend installing SP1.


In Summary

This is an update that I think will have something for everyone as it touches just about every standard environment. As it doesn’t introduce any new functionality do not wait until you pass go, just deploy it now, and start enjoying the increased productivity.


Feature Image Airplane Wing with Jet Engines at the Airport by Viktor Hanacek

Inventor 2017 3D Sketch Enhancements

Inventor 2017 includes Design Enhancements so that you can design faster. This is no more apparent than the Inventor 2017 3D sketch environment, it has finally seen some loving. The updates are significant (and I mean it!) as the amount of time and effort required to build 3D sketches is greatly reduced.

Inventor 2017 3D Sketch Enhancements

In summary:

  • Use 3D Transform to quickly (and precisely) move and rotate geometry.
  • New constraint types for greater control.
  • Quickly add sketch geometry directly onto 3D faces.
  • Copy & Paster 3D sketch geometry directly within the same sketch

Draw Curves Directly on a Face

Using the new Curve on Face feature, you can create interpolation 3D splines directly on a part face. The workflow supports snapping to points (vertices) and edges while picking points.

Inventor 2017 3D Sketch Curve On Face

To maintain its relation to the part face the resultant object does not provide the full suite of spline editing features. Via the right-click menu you can insert additional points, edit the position of existing points, work with the point handles, display the curvature, and use other tools.

Inventor 2017 3D Sketch Face Spline Options


Use the new On Face option to constrain selected lines, arcs, or splines to a planar face or selected points to a curved face.

Inventor 2017 3D Sketch Curve On Face Constraint

3D Sketch Draw Tools

One of the few things that AutoCAD excelled at and Inventor lacked was using Ortho to quickly layout 3D lines. [Need to see an example? Take a look at how Autodesk Plant 3D uses ortho to its advantage for laying out pipe]. Well, no longer is this an AutoCAD only feature, as Inventor 2017 adds Ortho to the 3D Sketch environment,…. BOOM, that’s how its done.

Inventor 2017 3D Sketch Ortho

Ortho is enabled from the right-click menu, the new status bar icon, or by pressing Ctrl+R (which I’ll consider switching to F8). And with the addition of Dynamic Dimensions (also in the status bar and right-click menu) you can quickly create fully constrained sketch geometry.

Use the space indicator glyph that follows you around as you are sketching, to sketch on a specific plane. Click the desired plane on the space indicator and you are restricted to only drawing in its planar directions. Press Shift+Space to toggle between the planes and parallel with the screen.

The following commands are added to the context menu:

  • Align to Plane
  • Orient Z
  • Orient to World
  • Snap Intersection

Inventor 2017 adds the 3D Transform feature to the 3D Sketch environment. Use this to freely or precisely move / rotate geometry within the 3D sketch. The 3D Transform triad can be reorientated to the World, the current View, or the Local coordinate system.

Inventor 2017 3D Sketch 3D Transform


What Else is New?

Be sure to check out other enhancements in Inventor 2017:

Professional Grade Design with Inventor 2017

Better Presentations with Inventor 2017

Interoperability with Inventor 2017

My Take on Tube & Pipe


featured image: 08-14vi09 via photopin (license)

Inventor 2017 What’s New

“Built for the expanding role of the professional engineer, with enhancements to core design tools to design faster and optimize performance from the outset“. There are so many updates to parts, assemblies, and drawings… none are earth-shattering new, but nice additions that will make your life easier. However, the presentation environment has had a complete overhaul. So what’s new in Inventor 2017? Here are a few of my favorites:


Sketch Driven Patterning

Have you had the need to create a pattern of features that is not circular, rectangular, or follows a path? Was this difficult before? Within Inventor 2017 the Sketch Driven Pattern makes this an issue of the past as you can quickly generate features (or bodies) in complex arrangements. This works with both 2D & 3D sketches!

With all patterning types the new Fixed option locks the orientation of the feature, so that it doesn’t rotate the objects throughout the pattern.

Parent/Child Relationship

Understanding the intertwined relationships within your part features is not always an easy task. That becomes apparent when you start to delete features or when errors occur, and you need to be a detective to figure out what goes where and how everything is related. The new Feature Relationships option identifies these parent-child relationships between part features. It also provides a new option for editing the features contained within your component. Is it as slick as what I’ve seen in other CAD packages? No, but the information is still there and still extremely useful.

To launch the dialog, right-click on a feature within the browser and select Relationships. Parents and children of the selected feature are instantly shown. Selecting a feature within the dialog highlights the feature in the browser and in the model. Click the Select icon to activate the feature, showing its parents and child features. Select the Edit button to edit the feature.

Inventor 2017 What's New - Feature Relationships

The parent/child relationships shown include all feature types, even sketches and work geometry.

Part Quick Hits…

  • Inventor now supports patterning & mirroring iFeatures on multibody parts
  • You now can window select multiple closed profiles within the Extrude command
  • While creating Boundary Patches, use the new Guide Rails option and select curves and/or points to “shape the patch and more precisely control continuity and form
  • Ruled Surface contains an Angle option to set the direction of the surface


Make Components Transparent

You can now toggle the transparency of a component in an assembly without applying a translucent appearance.

Inventor 2017 Assembly Transparency

Cross-Part Reference Enhancements

Cross-Part relationships are created when you project (associatively copy) geometry from one part into another. With this relationship intact, as you change the original component the projected geometry updates. Although a powerful feature, it can be very difficult to keep track of what’s related to what, and what changes will impact your components.

Inventor 2017 shows new icons so you can quickly identify the source of the cross-part relationship. Also, a tooltip with additional information appears as you hover over the item in the browser.

Inventor 2017 Cross-Part Reference Icons

From the assembly, AdaptiveBreak Link, and Open are now available from the browser node, meaning you do not need to drill down or activate the component to work with the relationships. This makes it a whole-lot-easier for dealing with the many cross part relationships that can occur in your assemblies.


Easily the best new feature in drawings, but for me also all of Inventor 2017, is the new Parts List Filter feature Limit QTY to visible components only. This works in conjunction with Design Views to provide a quick method to limit the visibility of components in the Parts List to the components that are visible in the Design View. Why is this important? If you do any type of assembly sequence / order style drawings this is a huge benefit to show only the required components for the active sheet.

Inventor 2017 Parts List Filter
Drawing Quick Hits…

  • Cut Edges in Section Views can be shown as jagged. This is similar to Detail Views and a good enhancement
  • Balloons now contain a rectangular style
  • [FINALLY!] In the Application Options dialog box > Sketch tab, select or deselect the Enable Link option by default during image insertion option to set the default behaviour when inserting images into sketches.
  • New setting for Automatic Text Wrapping in Title and Column Headings in Drawing Tables

Other Updates?

Make sure to check out our other posts on the new features & functionality in Inventor 2017:

Better Presentations with Inventor 2017

Inventor 2017 3D Sketch Enhancements

Interoperability with Inventor 2017

My Take on Tube & Pipe in Inventor 2017

Feature Image Excited by Alex Kuruz

A Review of Mastering Autodesk Inventor 2016

Mastering Autodesk Inventor 2016 I’ve been involved with training involving Autodesk products for a long time. Everything from delivering training to developing material… yet this is the first time that I’ve done a review of training material. Perhaps its because I was just waiting for the right book to come along. Mastering Autodesk Inventor 2016… Continue Reading

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