This week, Autodesk announced two mechanical CAD updates to each of its software flagships. So, what’s new?
Inventor 2016 Sees Significant Improvements
For years, Inventor has been the go-to mechanical design tool for those working within the Autodesk landscape. As always, a new year has brought about new functionalities in the program. While there have been countless upgrades to the software, I’ve chosen to write about the three that stand out to me.
Direct Modelling Updates
A few years back, Inventor introduced direct modelling to its strictly parametric environment. With these new direct modelling tools designers were given the ability to push and pull shapes to create their geometry. Direct modelling also made it easier to create complex, organic shapes that were hard to build from sketches and lofts alone.
In Inventor 2016, the direct modelling (also known as Freeform) toolbox has been expanded. Some of the highlights are:
1. Work with open surfaces or closed shapes
2. Convert existing model faces to freeform geometry for shape refinement
3. Freeform Thicken command can create solids, offset surfaces or shell walls
4. Unweld edges to split and move a freeform body segment
5. Delete faces
Easier 3D Printing
Now that 3D printing has become a staple of design workflows, Inventor’s developers have given 3D printing support a well-deserved upgrade.
Beyond the ability to export an STL, Inventor 2016 features a new 3D Printer Environment option that allows users to position and orient designs within the confines of a pre-defined printer volume.
While in this environment, designers will be able to update a part while leaving its original “source model” unaffected. Once a model has been oriented, positioned and modified (if it needs to be modified) the part can be sent off to print.
Lastly, Inventor 2016 features a more efficient environment for Multi-CAD work.
1. An associative import of CAD data from CATIA, SolidWorks, NX, Pro-E/Creo and Alias files allows you to maintain a link to the selected file. The imported geometry in Inventor updates as the model changes.
2. Selective import support allows you to only read in the geometry that is important to you, speeding up the import process. The new Select tab allows you to specify which objects to import when importing a CATIA, SolidWorks, Pro-E/Creo, NX, Alias, STEP, IGES or Rhino file.
3. Multi-thread support is now enabled. This allows Inventor to use it’s available hardware more efficiently. As a result, you will experience improved performance when working on files from other CAD systems.
4. The options for importing CATIA , SolidWorks, Pro-E/Creo, NX, Alias, STEP, IGES, Rhino, SAT, and Parasolid Binary files have been simplified and provide clear choices for import.
Aside from expanded operability within the 3D CAD paradigm, Inventor 2016 also improved the way it relates to AutoCAD DWGs and Electrical schematics. The new improvements feature:
1. Electromechanical link between Inventor and AutoCAD Electrical provides a smooth data exchange between your 2D and 3D electrical designs.
2. When you create a link between an AutoCAD Electrical and an Inventor assembly the project files become associative; design data changes made in one product are updated in the other via Sync.
3. The Location View command in the ribbon’s new Electromechanical tab displays the devices and wiring contained in both the AutoCAD Electrical Drawings and Inventor Assemblies.
CAM Updates Strengthen Fusion 360
Fusion 360’s all encompassing concept to manufacturing paradigm has been revolutionary for product designers looking to consolidate their workflows. Now, Autodesk is increasing the number of tools that are available to tooling experts by opening up their CAM solution to the cloud.
Now that Fusions 360’s CAM tools (which are jointly powered by HSMWorks and Inventor HSM) are in the cloud, users have access to “Personal Cloud Libraries” that can include tools, post processors and machining templates. With these additions, manufacturers will have quick access to their most used tools, be able to send G-Code to a wider variety of machines, and will be able to re-use programs that are commonly used across product lines.
In addition to the added support for libraries, Fusion’s CAM tool has also been upgraded to contain an enhanced Facing strategy complete with clip thinning, a new Break Through option for drill-through operations, and enhanced measuring capabilities for determining distances between stock and work pieces during milling simulations.
To learn more about Fusion 360’s latest upgrade, watch this video: