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Autodesk InventorReview

Autodesk Inventor 2008 Offers Smooth Transition from 2D Workflow

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Full article is available for a fee

Al Dean, July 23, 2007

Inventor is Autodesk’s flagship system for 3D product development. As with all things Autodesk, the company is looking to bring across a portion of the massive AutoCAD user community to this system. Inventor is clearly the future for Autodesk’s Manufacturing Solutions Division.

For Inventor 2008 Autodesk has done some work on Inventor/AutoCAD interaction, which manifests itself in a couple of ways. Initially, there’s an effort in this release to bring parity between the sketching tools found in Inventor and the drawing tools in AutoCAD. This is done in two ways. First, the operations have been fleshed out within Inventor, so that you have the same basic tools (this has meant the addition of a move, rotate and stretch command). Alongside this, the icons have been hanged within Inventor to match AutoCAD. While I’m sure this will be galling for experienced Inventor users, the changes aren’t that dramatic; a few hours should see you settled in. Sketching has also seen non-AutoCAD related updates. The constraints tool has been revised to reduce clutter and allow the user to visualize the control constraints within a sketch, to see where remaining constraints are required and such. Also, the user now has greater control over how sketch entities are displayed (such as line weight, color, style).

Author in Inventor, Reuse in AutoCAD

 Alongside Sketching, there have been some major changes in the architecture beneath the interaction between Inventor and AutoCAD, all wrapped up under the banner of TrueConnect. TrueConnect sees how a user interacts with AutoCAD DWG; it notices data changes rather dramatically and should prove useful to users still mixing up 3D and 2D-based processes.

Inventor 2008 takes DWG interoperability to a higher level with DWG TrueConnect -- new technology that provides direct read and write of DWG.

The first usage model for TrueConnect is that all authoring is Inventor-based, but there is a desire to reuse that data within AutoCAD. A drawing file is created within Inventor which can then be read into AutoCAD (whether that’s generic or Mechanical) without any translation or conversion. But—and this is interesting—Inventor stores the individual drawing views as separate entities, so from within AutoCAD, you use the Design Center to open an Inventor DWG file, browse its contents (in terms of drawing views) and just extract the view or views you need for reuse in AutoCAD.

Enhancements to dynamic simulation in Inventor 2008 support analysis of the stress on parts at different points, or time steps, in the simulation cycle.

Intelligent Data Exchange

A huge update for those working with imported data is found under the banner of Composite data, allowing the user to import geometry and use it in design work. What’s intriguing is that when the user re-imports that data (say, a new rev from a client or supplier), any parts or features derived from that geometry are also updated. Obviously, this will go best with geometry changes, rather that topology edits, but it will still be useful. Elsewhere data can now be exchanged between Inventor and Autodesk AliasStudio (formerly, StudioTools). The predominately surface-based data can be read straight into Inventor for further design, engineering and production preparation work. For those looking to mix AliasStudio and a 3D modeling application, this represents a pretty compelling argument for adopting both.

Shape Design

One cool new feature is the Area-based loft which allows the user to create a standard loft but with much more control over the area within each section or profile. What I mean by this is that while you might create the form (such as a circle, polygon, etc.), the real driving factor behind that section might be the cross sectional area. This is particularly critical for those involved in fluid or gas flow applications.


  • Rendering
  • Drafting and Documentation
  • Design Accelerators
  • Integrated Simulation and Analysis

The full article is available for a fee at CADCAMNet

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