Something New for Everyone

May 29th, 2014

This year, Autodesk has applied an equal helping of new technologies and customer requests. The new Freeform editor, 2D Sketch enhancements, and Frame Member Reuse are all welcome additions to Autodesk Inventor®. These alone make this release a worthy upgrade, but there is much more.

Contents

• User Interface
• Sketch
• Parts
• Assembly
• Drawings
• Interoperability
• CAD Administration
• Other Enhancements

User Interface

• Application Options dialog box is now resizable by selecting any corner

New Startup Dashboard

A new startup environment has been added when Inventor is loaded. This is intended to provide a centralized point for learning the product as well as creating components.

Figure 1: New Home tab on the dashboard

The new dashboard includes the following tabbed pages:

  • Inventor Home – Functions as a single, central, in-product location for quickly starting new files and opening recent project data. Customizable and allows file pinning.
  • Team Web – provides URL-based team location for company-oriented content such as standards, templates, and useful information. This is configurable in the Application Settings.
  • Help – contains links to essential skills videos, as well as various Inventor topics.

Improved Search

The Help page contains an improved search system. Content previews are improved and Autodesk has collected all its content into the search parameters including Commands, Help articles, Support content, Discussion Groups, YouTube videos, and Blog posts.

Learning Page

This page provides a Tutorial Learning Path that provides a visual layout of common workflows to guide new users. New interactive tutorials are provided to help develop a foundation in basic Inventor skills. New challenge exercises are also provided to help solidify understanding of the content.

Figure 2: The Inventor Learning Path

Ribbon Enhancements 

The ribbon has been simplified in order to remove clutter and easily access most common commands.

  • 3D Model and Sketch panels streamlined by moving more items to the drop down lists.
  • More panels hidden by default.
  • Sketch tab now always available on the ribbon in Part, Assembly, and Drawing files.
  • Draw panel renamed to Create while in Sketch mode in a Part file.

Access Hidden Panels Easily

Users can access hidden panels on the ribbon using the new Show Panel icon on any ribbon tab that is current.

New Button Resize Option

Right-click a command in the ribbon to access Button resize, where you can set the large or small version to be displayed.

Ribbon Customization Help

Pressing F1 as you hover the cursor over the new Show Panels icon will open a help dialog for customizing the ribbon using the new features. 

New Hardware Settings in Application Options

The Compatibility setting in the Hardware tab of the Application Options has been replaced by the Conservative setting. This provides throttled-down performance in the Quality and Performance settings.

Autodesk Application Manager Keeps You Current 

Application Manager monitors service packs and related software packages and alerts when these become available. The manager handles complete downloading and installation of the files. More information is available by opening the Windows taskbar in the lower right corner, selecting open from the right-click menu. Select Help in the Applications Manager dialog.  

Sketch 

New Constraint Tools and Settings

These are one of the best enhancements to Inventor sketching I have seen in a long time.

• Display Constraints on Creation setting – visual indication of sketch constraints in the form of sharp-colored glyphs appear as you create and constrain geometry.

Show Constraints for Selected Objects

This setting highlights constraints with similar glyphs for geometry that users select in the graphics window. Once visible, each glyph permits deletion.

Figure 3: Show constraints for selected objects

My favorite part is that as users hover over each glyph, the respective geometry that is shared in the constraint highlights as well.

New Relax Mode

This handy new feature allows modification to constrained geometries like a toggle. 

While Relax Mode is turned ON, conflicting constraints are removed as you add new constraints or dimensions. You can modify constraints of an existing model by dragging the selected sketch geometry freely.  
You can also remove all conflicting constraints (except Coincident, Smooth, Tangent, Symmetry, Pattern, and Project) by adding new dimensions or constraints. 

Improved Access to 2D Sketch Constraints Settings 

All settings related to configuring 2D sketch constraints have been organized into a centralized location accessible from the Constraint Settings button on the Constraints panel. 

Figure 4: Combined constraints settings


Delete Constraints Command

The new Delete Constraints command is available on a respective context menu, and will remove all constraints from selected geometry (with the exception of Coincident constraints). Coincident constraints are removed with the new Delete Coincident Constraint command. 

Sketch Productivity and Behavior Improvements

  • Geometry creation is accomplished on the mouse down-click action instead of the mouse release. This is intended to make connecting endpoints easier.
  • Sketch text style on creation allows you to select from a list of available text styles while creating sketch text .

Sketch Offset Improvements

When you create sketch geometry using the offset command, resulting zero-length line, arc, and ellipse segments are automatically removed. No degenerated geometry is developed now, and wider intervals can be achieved. 

Figure 5: Improved Offset command

Create Point at Virtual Intersection of Two Sketch Elements

You can now capture the virtual intersection between two elements in 2D sketch, and auto-capture the virtual On Curve inference in a 2D sketch. The existing constraint inference for real intersect elements can be applied to virtual intersections as well.  

Look at Behavior Enhancements

Perform Minimum Rotation Option – rotates the view to look at the nearest (least rotation needed) view angle to view the sketch normal and sketch’s X axis being horizontal or vertical. 

Align with Local Coordinate System – orients the sketch’s X axis horizontally and the Y axis vertically, maintaining + up and right. 

These new settings are added to the Application Options/Display tab.

Parts

General Modeling Improvements 

  • Shell and Tapered Extrusion handle more complicated geometries including tapered angles up to 90°.
  • Twist angle controls rotation in Sweep  feature dialog.
  • Purge All Unused Parameters – Purge Unused button at bottom of the Parameters Editor dialog allows selective purging of parameters that are not in use. Parameters used by other documents default to the No option
  • View Entire Parameter Names – width of the Parameters dialog expands to accommodate display of the longest parameter name.
  • Default Thread and Hole Depth – Hole and thread depths are controlled by standards associated to newly created Thread Depth and Runout columns in the thread.xls file.

Figure 6: Thread.XLS changes

Workplane Improvements

  • Rename the workplane in the browser.
  • Workplane Name now displays in the graphics window.
  • Create midplane workplanes from parallel or non-parallel faces in Parts and Assemblies.

Figure 7: Workplanes enhancements

Wrap to Surface/Face Performance Improvements

Wrap to surface of Project Curve to Surface, and Wrap to Face of Emboss tool has been enhanced. (Beta team reported 50X faster performance and 7X smaller file size in specific applications.)

Figure 8: Project Curve to Surface enhancements

14 New Freeform Tools

The 14 new Freeform tools provide an alternate modeling approach to explore and create freeform shaped models using direct manipulation. Basic freeform shapes start the process and are available on the ribbon (Box, Sphere, Cylinder, Torus, or Quad ball). Further refinement can be performed by using the Freeform edit tools.

Figure 9: Freeform Editor is awesome!

Freeform includes powerful refinement tools to use while the model is being built. The multi-functional triad tool allows scaling, rotation, and translation of any surface or edge selected. The surfaces can also be subdivided as desired. The pinewood derby car example above was made with x-axis symmetry activated, allowing me to concentrate edits to one side, but visualize the results on the entire model. Notice the light grey centerline indicating the plane of symmetry.

The form populated the model browser’s history and can be used in conjunction with parametric modeling. Freeform includes a Match Edge Command that allows users to form the freeform body to existing features and sketch geometries as well.

Better Direct Edit Functionality

Direct Edit Mode is well put together and makes fast changes to parts easily. This can be performed on Inventor models as well as any shape that has been imported with or without history definitions.

The tools available include:

• Move
• Rotate
• Size
• Delete
There is also a very handy snap parallel option included.

Figure 10: New Direct Edit interface

Once in Direct Edit Mode, you can move and select features to edit without having to leave the mode. This is quite convenient while performing numerous edits.

These operations are stored in the model browser history as ‘Direct Edit’. Picking these highlights respective edits in the graphics window; double-clicking them activates the Direct Edit Mode again and shows each feature edit type delineated as a sub-member.

See Enhanced Highlighting of Selections in iPart Table

Selections in an iPart table highlight in other reference fields, as well in the graphics window. 

The object (such as feature, parameter, and property) that you select in the iPart editor highlights within associated table fields and in the graphics window (when applicable).

Highlighting works for: 

  • Parts and assembly features (including sheet metal), suppressed or unsuppressed.
  • Work features, visible and invisible.
  • iMates and iFeatures.
  • Column or cell, including columns that can be mapped back to a feature, work feature, or iMate. 
  • The source pane and destination pane in the iPart and iAssembly Author dialog boxes.
  • Edit in place (not for Edit in Place Create iPart). 

Sheet Metal 

  • Window selection of multiple points to place a punch.
  • Flat Pattern conversion prompts are more accurate.
  • Folded parts in the browser show EOF (End of Flat) instead of EOP. 
  • Apply sheet metal punch features across bends.
  • Bend Edit dialog automatically expands to accommodate longest property name.
  • Flat Pattern dialog now includes an orientation rotation angle.

Use Cut Normal in the Cut Dialog Box

The Cut Normal option is added to the Cut dialog. This option projects selected profiles onto the sheet surface and then cuts perpendicular thereto.

A-Side Definition Command Added to the Flat Pattern Panel

The A-Side of a sheet metal part can be indicated with the new command. This allows the sheet metal component to control the punch direction (if you do not select an A-Side before using the Flat Pattern tool, Inventor will select one for you).

Figure 11: Define A-Side for sheet metal

Unfold/Refold Imported Sheet Metal Part with Zero Radius Bend

Unfold/Refold command allows selection of zero radius bends and flatten zero radius bends when a flat pattern is created. 

A new face is added to accommodate the Unfold operation based on the user defined K-Factor.  After Refolding, these references remain.

Assembly 

Express Mode Improvements

  • Edit parts and sub-assemblies in place without opening them in separate window.
  • Express data now makes drawing views much faster. 

The following are more commands that are enabled in Express mode: 

  • Create Component (in place) 
  • Section View command 
  • Create/Edit Work Features 
  • Create/Edit Sketches 
  • Pattern Component 
  • Copy/Mirror Component 
  • Assemble 
  • Point Cloud commands 

Joints

Create Joints using the following new context menu options:

  • Between Two Faces – select a virtual midpoint between two selected faces.
  • Offset Origin – Pick reference geometry for alignment and drag manipulators to change origin location.

Frame Generator

  • Double mitered frame members’ lengths are automatically calculated correctly.

Reuse Frame Members

Reuse and Change Reuse commands have been added to the Frame panel on the ribbon’s Design tab.   These tools will be a welcome addition and have been requested by frame users for a long time.

Figure 12: Long-awaited Frame Reuse. Here, the blue highlighted member is being reused at the green highlighted frame

Reuse allows users to select an existing frame member (straight only) to use in other areas in order to reduce the number of identical files. Multiple frame members can be selected. 

  • Reused member removal is handled by a context menu option titled Break Reuse Member.
  • Flip Member Direction reverses the frame member orientation.

The Change Reuse command allows reused frame members to be switched, as well as different geometry definitions to be selected.

As reused frame members are identical, end treatments are as well. Adjusting end treatments to the original member before selecting for reuse ensures the copies are properly set up.

Tube & Pipe

Honor Application Options for Transparency

This new option is available in the Tube & Pipe Settings dialog and adjusts the component opacity in an assembly. When activated, the transparency option settings in the Application Options dialog box are adhered to. When deactivated, the entire assembly displays as opaque, avoiding the visual confusion that can occur with transparency. 

Drawings

  • Fast Open Option – open drawing files quickly by ignoring file references. Edits can be saved.
  • Double-click anywhere on a balloon to edit
  • Use browser tree to move split drawing tables to another sheet.

Fast Drawing Views for Large Assemblies

Assembly’s Express mode data is utilized to generate faster preview and view placement for both precise and raster views.  Consequently, raster views of very large assemblies generate in a fraction of the time. Performance gains are subject to file size and require all components to be properly migrated to 2015.

Foreshortened Dimensions

Create linear, angular, or arc length foreshortened dimensions by selecting the foreshortened dimension type in the context menu.

Figure 13: Foreshortened dimensions

Auto-Sort Parts List

Auto-Sort on Update is a new option that persists with any Parts List to which it has been applied. Once set, Parts Lists automatically sort.

View Labels Update When on Different Sheets

View Label properties now include PARENT SHEET NAME and PARENT SHEET INDEX, which automatically update when parent view is moved to a different sheet.

The property is added to the default view label in the Style and Standard Editor – standard View Preferences display. 

Interoperability

  • Add the BIM Simplify Panel to the Assemble and 3D model tab on the ribbon.

Point Cloud Enhancements

In an assembly file, access the Point Cloud commands on the Point Cloud panel of the ribbon’s Manage tab.  

New Point Cloud commands and functions include: 

  • Navigator – Navigate to and adjust the visibility of scan regions and scan locations in a point cloud.
  • Cloud Plane – Create construction plane based on selection set of points in the cloud.
  • Adjust Point Cloud Density and max loaded points in the Attach Point Cloud dialog.
  • Measure distances from Point Cloud to a Point Cloud plane and other geometry.

Inventor Add-ins

Mockup 360 Add-in

Mockup 360 add-in is automatically installed with Inventor 2015 and allows insertion on Inventor models to new or existing Mockup 360 files. (Requires installation of Mockup 360 which is downloaded from your Autodesk 360 log-in.)

Configurator 360 Add-in

Configurator 360 add-in is an option available in the Inventor 2015 installation process. It permits users to upload designs directly from Inventor to Configurator 360. Once installed it appears on the Autodesk 360 tab on the ribbon. Configurator 360 will also install to Inventor 2014 if found during the installation process.  

AutoCAD Electrical Catalog Browser Add-In

AutoCAD Electrical add-in adds the modeless Catalog Browser, which permits insertion of 3D parts into Inventor from the Electrical Catalog database. The add-in includes a small sample set of 3D electrical parts.  Once installed, files are available to be placed into normal assemblies as well as the Cable and Harness Environment.

Vendor part models as well as your own electric components can be associated with a catalog value. The add-In installation is handled through the AutoCAD Electrical 2015 installation package as an option.

Translators

Import support for the following file versions is added:

  • CATIA V5 version R6 through V5-6R2013
  • Parasolid version up to 26.0
  • JT version 7.0 through 10.0
  • SolidWorks version 2001 plus - 2014

Export support for the following versions is added.

  • CATIA V5 version R10 through V5-6R2013
  • Parasolid version 9.0 to 26.0
  • JT version 7.0 through 10.0

CAD Administrator Tools 

Material Options 

  • New default Texture path field in Application Options/Files tab.
  • Cutout texture now displays under shaded visual style and behaves similarly in both the shaded and realistic visual styles.  
  • Migrate Color Styles to Generic option is added to the Material Styles Migration dialog box. It creates a generic appearance for color styles in the appearance of the Inventor 2012 shaded view color style.

Enhancements for Task Scheduler

In Task Scheduler, in both the Migration task and the Update Design task, you can update materials and appearances in batches, instead of opening the files manually. The option Update Local Materials and Appearances is added to both the Migration Options dialog box and the Update Design Options dialog box. When you select the option, all local materials and appearances are updated automatically to the styles in the library in the active project.  

Batch-Convert All Drawing Views to Precise Views

You can convert a batch of raster drawings to precise drawings using Task Scheduler. The option to Make All Raster Drawing Views Precise has been added in the Update Design Options dialogs during the Update Design task and the Migrate Files task.

Please note that Skip migrated file and Skip unresolved references will filter these conditions out of the task.  

Other Enhancements

  • Specify whether the Help system is viewed from Local or Online references (new Help Options in the Application Options/ General tab).
  • Autodesk 360 is now an option during installation.

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About the Authors

John Evans

John Evans is an Autodesk Certified Inventor Professional . He provides technical troubleshooting at Gustin, Cothern, and Tucker, Inc. He works as design consultant and author from his company John Evans Design and manages the blog “Design and Motion.” He can be reached at john@johnevansdesign.net

 

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