Batch Saving Inventor Drawings To Older AutoCAD Formats

Being on the latest and greatest technology of course has many advantages but at times some disadvantages come along for the ride. One I am seeing is the time needed to take you Inventor drawing formats and save them back to an earlier version of a AutoCAD dwg.

Reasons for Export:
1. Customer requires delivery of all flat AutoCAD format DWG files
2. Vendors need Drawings in AutoCAD format for NC fabrication
3. Shop floor requires AutoCAD DWG for its own fabrication drawings

What can be done:
• Inventor .idw or .dwg exported to Flat AutoCAD file
• DWG or DXF
• AutoCAD 12 DXF
• AutoCAD 2000 to 2010 DWG

Please view the video to watch and learn about the steps needed to batch process this type of conversion.

Video link: Created by one of the Cad Geeks

Vaulted file viewing for "Trusted" individuals

One of the most common topics of Vault discussion I run into is around the options for Vault viewing. Everyone I speak with usually needs some method of viewing drawings that have been checked into Vault. Sometimes this is just for viewing access by a couple key individuals who are not involved in the CAD design process, but just need to gather or reference design documentation. This seems to be quite common at smaller companies with a tight knit group of individuals. If this is the case, there is a way of producing an uncontrolled "duplicate" publish location for viewing a copy of drawings that get checked into Vault. The key word here is "Copy" and that definitely has some significant drawbacks that could be far from ideal.

What it does:

  1. Puts a duplicate DWF copy of drawings in a network folder at the time they are checked into Vault. This only occurs if the Vault user leaves the DWF option turned on.
  2. Allows individuals without CAD to view the non-Vaulted DWF files with Autodesk Design Review (free).
What it does not do:
  1. Does not re-sync with files that have been renamed, moved, or removed from Vault. This could leave non-valid DWF files sitting in the folder structure unless someone manually removes them.
  2. Does not indicate that the file is ready for viewing
  3. Does not track the revision of the viewable file
  4. Does not ensure that the viewable DWF file is the latest effective release that is safe for manufacturing to use
So this technique may be suitable as long as you understand that this is really just a file dump location that that can't be relied upon as location of "released" data. To properly manage a release process and allow access to only "released" data, Vault Workgroup would need to be implemented instead of the free Vault.

Here is the basic setup procedure for the "duplicate" publish location:

1. Pick the "Define" button on the Visualizatin tab of the Vault Administration dialog box.

2. Turn on the "Duplicate Vault Folder Structure" and define a network path that the CAD users can publish to.

3. The files will be duplicated in the defined location as another file whenever a drawing is checked into Vault.

Contributed by Ben of the Tata Technologies CAD Geeks

Sheet Metal - Using Legacy Flat Data

Many times we need to use existing 2D data to create 3D folded models within Autodesk Inventor. This data may be living in a dwg or dxf file format. This blog consist of the steps and video that speaks of some of your options when importing this data and creating the 3D model itself.
Steps used for using legacy flat data:
1.Start new sheet metal part, start the insert AutoCAD tool
2.Select dxf or dwg file
3.Select import options
4.Clean-up imported geometry trim and extend tools
5.Finish Sketch
6.Select Sheet Metal rule to be used
7.Use Face tool, select geometry
8.Create new sketch where needed project bend lines
9.Use fold tool to bend selected areas
10.Continue steps 8 and 9 until your part is completely folded

Video link:
Created by one of the Cad Geeks

New iCHECK IT Release!

Look soon for the 2010 R2.0 iCHECK IT release, which will include the following new checks:

  • Isometric View on Save
  • Sketch Visibility Turned Off
  • No Design Doctor Errors and Alerts
  • No Projected Loops in sketches
  • No Projected Cut Edges in sketches
  • Only Nominal Model Dimensions active
  • End of Part not last
  • Multiple Fillet Sizes in one Occurrence
  • No Blank Sheet(s) in Drawings
  • No Unconsumed Work Features
  • No Hidden Dimensions
  • No text added to a Drawing Dimension
And enhancements to existing checks!

More about iCHECK IT for Autodesk Inventor:

Degrees of Freedom are key in a Dynamic simulation

Every time I use the Dynamic Simulation environment in Autodesk Inventor Simulation, it seems like I have to alter my assembly constraints to get the results I want. This is usually because of redundant assembly constraints. As an example, lets consider a basic four bar linkage. If you constrain the members with all "insert" type assembly constraints, it may act like you want in the normal Inventor environment, but there is actually a redundant planer constraint in this case. Instead, one of the "insert" constraints should be changed to a "axis/axis" mate constraint.

Shown above is another potentially more troublesome pitfall. This occurs when trying to solve simulations where linkage components serve the same purpose and share loads equally. An example of this could be trying to solve both sides of a scissor lift simultaneously. A better approach would be to only use one half of the model in the simulation and simple divide the input loads in half as well. This allows proper calculation by the simulation tool and allows output of the reaction loads desired.

Contributed by Ben of the Tata Technologies CAD Geeks

Subscription Advantage Pack for Autodesk Inventor 2010

The Autodesk® Subscription Advantage Pack for Autodesk® Inventor® 2010 offers new productivity tools, improved support for architectural fabrication, and easier-to-use simulation features. Move beyond 3D to develop complete digital prototypes of your designs. You must be on Subscription to benefit from these tools!

DWG™ Block Browser—Browse for blocks from DWG files and insert them into Autodesk® Inventor® software without having to open a drawing in AutoCAD® software.

Chain Dimensioning—Create chain dimensions more quickly and easily.

Multi-View Create—Create multiple views simultaneously.

Architectural View Scale—Display fractional view scales with associative updating.

Materials Assignment for Simulation*—Select components in the Materials Browser and simultaneously change their material properties.

Editable Simulation Reports*—Output simulation results to a single file for editing.

* Simulation features only available in AutoCAD® Inventor® Simulation Suite and AutoCAD® Inventor® Professional Suite.

Importing 3D Geometry into Sheet Metal

With 3D becoming more popular daily many companies are exchanging data in a 3D format and not to mention that the translators you find in the products these days also makes exchanging data easier than ever. Still there is a need to take that 3D data and bring it into the sheet metal environment to generate flat pattern layouts. Today we will take a look at using an iges file and the steps needed to use it within the Inventor sheet metal environment.

Video link:
Created by one of the Cad Geeks

FEA Convergence - Ensuring accurate simulation results in Inventor

One of the foreign concepts to many people new to FEA is the idea of "Convergence". Convergence is an analytical method that many analysts use to determine the quality of their FEA results. Since FEA uses small elements to solve complex problems, a larger number of smaller elements can sometimes yield more accurate results. But how small is small enough when it comes to element sizes? This is where convergence comes into play. Convergence in Inventor Simulation is actually a series of settings that can be used to automatically make mesh elements smaller, and help determine if results are accurate.

The basic concept is that the mesh will automatically be made of smaller elements and solved until the results of the refined mesh fall within a percentage of the previous mesh. In other words: The smaller mesh is no longer significantly changing the results, and it making it smaller would yield diminishing returns.

In the image below, convergence settings were used to determine the validity of the FEA results. Before using convergence, the stress in the model was calculated to be 5.85 ksi. After turning on convergence (which refines the mesh and makes it smaller), the stress was calculated to be 6.205ksi with only .448% defiation from the previous iteration. This shows us that we can trust our FEA setup and gives us more confidence in our solution.

Contributed by Ben of the Tata Technologies CAD Geeks

Creating Symbols with Design Review

Custom symbols can be made from 2D content in DWF files. You can create a separate symbol from each object, or block, if the block template information was included in the DWF file when it was published by a design application, such as AutoCAD. (For nested objects, only the top-level object is imported.) You can also create a separate symbol from each 2D sheet in the DWF file, regardless of how many objects are on a sheet.
As a type of markup, symbols can be used and reused on any 2D sheet. The benefit of symbols is the easy access to and consistent reuse of common symbols.

In addition to DWF files with drawings and text, you can also use DWF files with images or snapshots as symbols. Image types include:
- Sheets created by the Snapshot tool.
- JPEG (.jpg, .jpeg, .jpe, .jfif)
- PNG (.png)
- TIFF (.tif, .tiff)

Video link:

Created by one of the Cad Geeks

Design portability with Autodesk Vault

One of the benefits of Vault that can improve Inventor's performance in large assemblies also makes it easier to take your work with you if you leave the office. What am I talking about...

A local working folder or "Workspace" of course. Let me fill you in on the background first: Autodesk Vault is a Client / Server application with "Checked In" data residing on the Vault Server. But data that is "Checked Out" actually resides on your local workstation's hard drive. Vault is always automatically monitoring the relationship between the server and local data and displays its status when logged into Vault.

Due to this data residing on your local hard drive, you can log out of Vault and still work on any designs that have been checked out (and thereby cached in the local working folder). Tata Technologies typically even Vaults files such as Templates and Style library data so you can work without interruption when disconnected from the corporate network.
As mentioned earlier, due to the data being local when you are working in a Vault environment, large assemblies in Inventor can be more responsive to the common tasks of opening and saving regularly as well.
Contributed by Ben of the Tata Technologies CAD Geeks