Autodesk Inventor Tutorials - Tips & Tricks.pdf

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Autodesk Inventor Tutorials
Tips & Tricks
Latest Revision: 9/6/02
¨ 2002 Sean Dotson (
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This section is intended to be a grab bag of tips and tracks for working with iParts. Many
of them have come from readers like you who have found a neat way to overcome a
problem. Some are from Autodesk designers, some from me. Take the all with a grain of
salt, as I have not verified them all. Check back as the document will be updated from
time to time.
1. "Error" Messages
This tip comes from Tom Sturtevant of Autodesk and concerns the "Active part does not
match the table values" message.
I think the point of that "error" is generally misunderstood - in
fact it's not an error, but an opportunity. Inventor assumes
that the factory will be in sync with the default row in the
table. It supports this in two ways:
1. When you edit the default row values in the table, the values
in the default row are applied to the model. (This is handled slightly differently
for edits via Excel or via Inventor's iPart Author dialog.)
2. When you modify values in the part, you have the option to
"update the table before continuing".
This enables a workflow in which you edit the table by editing
the factory part. Like this:
* create a factory part
* using iPart Author command add appropriate columns. Add all
the rows you want, but only modify the KEY values. Exit iPart
Author command.
* in the browser, switch to a different default row.
* edit the part so it correctly represents the current default
* switch to another default row - it will ask "... Do you wish
to update the table before continuing?" answer Yes!
* repeat for all rows
This is probably more trouble than it is worth for many
factories, but at some level of complexity it is easier to set a
row configuration through Inventor editing than through table
edits. For large tables you can do this for a few selected rows
then use excel for the bulk replication. If you are modifying
color or material for each row, you don't have to worry about
spelling errors. Of course it's not quite a complete solution.
I don't think it works for threads (yet). It won't work
for file names. It should work for parameters, properties,
feature suppressions, iMate values, and color and material
Thanks to Tom for this tip! -Sean
2. Multiple colors in iParts
Someone wrote me the other day asking about multiple colors in iParts. For example he
had a fitting but wanted the end of the fitting to change color for English or metric. This
is possible but it takes a bit of forethought.
You need to make the features that will change color the default color. In other words
don't change their color via the properties dialogue.
Next go back to the parts that will remain a constant color and using the RMB on the
features in the browser, select properties and change them to whatever color you want.
The premise here is that the iPart author can only control the "base" color, not the one
that can be set via properties. It's kind of backwards from the way you would normally
draw parts (make the non-changing parts the base color) but it works.
Click here to download the iPart shown below. In this example we set the base color to
Green and vary the color of the cylinder by the iPart table. Changing the diameter of the
cylinder changes the cylinder's color.
3. Reduce Typing in Excel
Typing in information in Excel can be repetitive. If for example you have a column for
Threads1:Designation and another for Length and you want to make the filename a
combination of the thread size and length you can use the Excel "concatenate" function.
This allows you to combine the information from multiple cells into one cell. See the
Excel help for more information.
4. 3D Text in Inventor
As of version 5.3 Invcentor does not have a built in capability to extrude or emborss text
in a model. There are two ways to achieve this effect. One is to make your text in
AutoCAD and use the Express tool ÐExplode TextÑ to obtain the text as lines. You can
then import this sketch into the model and extude or cut it. A much more legant way is to
use Charles BlissÓ 3D Text Macro. You can find it at his site . Read the installation
instructions and have a blast with it. ItÓs really a great addition to IV.
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4. Strange Characters in iPart Children
A recent post in the NG reminded me that I did not address some aspects in my iParts
tutorials (since updated). If you notice that some of your iPart children have strange
characters in the filename: e.g. HexBolt1(_FS)4-20.ipt or IPNA9(_BS)24.ipt then you
have illegal characters in your filename column. Illegal characters include: / \ * ? $ and a
few others. (IÓm attempting to compile a complete list. If you find others please email
me). While these characters ARE legal in the description, title, part number etc... fields
they are not legal for filenames.
5. Make detail prints of each iPart Variant
This is a much asked question and the best way we have found so far is to create an
assembly and insert one of each of the iPart variants into the assembly. Now make
details from the iPart children that were created. Not the most elegant solution but one
that works. Some of the VB gurus are working on a way to automate this process. More
news as it develops.
6. Is My Video Card Supported / Which Driver Should I Use
7. Adaptively is Grayed Out on the Part I Want to be Adaptive
This is likely due to having used the part as adaptive in another assembly. An adaptive
part cannot be used in two different assemblies. If you no longer want it to be adaptive in
the first assembly and want it to be adaptive in the second (current one) open the adaptive
part and select Tools/Document Options/Modeling Tab. Uncheck the ÐAdaptively used in
assemblyÑ checkbox. Save the file ands you should now be able to make it adaptive in
the second assembly.
8. How do I prevent parts from showing in the BOM (Parts List)
This is useful when you have to create some existing feature or customer supplied parts
to model around but you donÓt want them to show up in the BOM. In the assembly,
RMB on the part and select the Properties/Occurrence tab. Check the ÐReferenceÑ
checkbox. No changes will be visible in the assembly. When you place a view od the
assembly in the IDW the parts will likely be ÐphantomedÑ out. You can RMB on the
view and select Edit View. In this section you can control the display of reference parts
(Normal, Phantom or Hidden). Regardless of the display the parts will not be displayed
in the BOM.
8. Make Model Rotate Automatically
More of a parlor trick than anything else but IÓve found it useful for presentation
purposes. Choose the orbit command (donÓt hold down F4) then as you orbit the model
hold down the SHIFT key. Now simultaneously release the SHIFT key and the mouse
button. The model will continue to rotate at the speed and direction when you let go of
the mouse button.
8. Save Model as a Graphics File
You can export IV assemblies, parts and drawings as BMP files. To do this select Save
Copy As.. and use the file type pull down to select BMP. Now before saving the file
choose Options. You will be presented with a dialogue box with a X and Y value. Enter
a value (say 1000) for X and Y (they need to be the same or Y needs to be left as 0).
Now save the file. Compare this to a file saved at 500 X 500. This controls the size of
the IV file. The larger the number the larger the file size in MB and the better clarity that
is generated. Use caution with values above 4000 as the file size can grow to enormous
levels. You can now (and should) save this BMP as a JPG or GIF file to reduce the file
9. WhatÓs New Dialogue Getting Old Real Fast
IV 5.3 has a problem on some installation that causes the ÐWhatÓs NewÑ dialogue box to
appear constantly. The remedy for this is to go to Tools/Add-Ins and search for DSS
Popup Monitor. Uncheck both boxes. The WhatÓs New problem should now be OLD
10. IV 5.3 and Volo View Install Problems
Before installing IV 5.3 be sure to uninstall Volo View Express from your machine. The
installation of 5.3 requires Volo View Express 2 and it will not successfully install over
the older version. Also be aware that there are two different versions of VVE on each
CD of the AIS. The one you want to install is the one of the AIS #1 CD (the one with IV,
not MDT on it)
11. Get a Hold on Those Bolt Circles
This tip comes from Quinn Zander and address a simple way to construct bolt circles that
are easily changeable based on horz. and vert. dims.
ÐUsing a Pattern in a part for bolt patterns has many advantages. The
spacing can be easily controlled with parameters, and by using the
Associative Pattern tool in an assembly, fasteners can be placed
parametrically into the pattern semi-automatically.
Let's take our rectangular face that needs a 4-bolt pattern.
On the sketch we drop a hole-point someplace in the lower right corner
of the sketch.
Start the Line tool (we are not extruding anything so using a Normal
linetype is acceptable and saves 1 step over choosing Construction) and
sketch a horizontal line between the midpoint of the vertical sides of
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