Thursday, January 27, 2011

Autodesk Inventor File Types

 LEVEL: Beginners.

Author: Ndianabasi Udonkang

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Autodesk Inventor has many file types. These file types are used for each of the type of files found in Inventor. For example, when you create a part or component, it is stored with a file type which different is from that used for storing assembly files. This method or system makes the design process more efficient. These file types are noticed and distinguished with the help of the file extensions (e.g. *.ipt).
There are six types of files that can be created with Autodesk Inventor Professional:

  1. Standard Part Files;
  2. Standard Assembly Files;
  3. SheetMetal Part Files;
  4. Weldment Assembly Files;
  5. Presentation Files; and
  6. Drawing Files.
Each of these file types are created by choosing the appropriate template on the New File dialog box. Let’s discuss them briefly.
  1. Inventor Standard Part File:
    This file type has the extension: *.ipt. It is used for storing general  single or multi-body components or part. For example a shaft, bolt, etc. Part files are the building blocks of any design. The inventor standard part file can be created easily by using the Standard (mm).ipt, Standard (in).ipt or Standard.ipt template on the New File dialog box.
  2. Inventor Standard Assembly Files:
    This file type has the extension: *.iam. It is used for storing assembly files. An assembly file is made of parts or components that are linked to each other parametrically. All assemblies without weldments are accommodated here. Inventor standard assembly files can be created by using the Standard(mm).iam, Standard(in).iam or Standard.iam template on the New File dialog box.
  3. Inventor Sheetmetal Part File:
    The sheetmetal part file is used for creating parts or components with constant and thin thicknesses. Most sheet metal parts have thicknesses ranging from 1 mm to 6 mm.  You can create sheet metal parts by using the Sheetmetal (mm).ipt, sheetmetal (in).ipt or sheetmetal.ipt template on the New File dialog box.
  4. Inventor Weldment Assembly File:

    This type of assembly file is used for creating assemblies that require welding process for joining one part or component to another. This file type can be created by using the Weldment.iam template on the New File dialog box.
  5. Inventor Presentation File:

    The inventor presentation file is used for creating exploded views of assemblies. These exploded parts could be animation to visualize how the parts will be assembled. The Inventor Presentation file can be created by using the Standard(mm).ipn, Standard(in).ipt or Standard.ipn.
  6. Inventor Drawing Files:

    The Inventor drawing files are used for creating design documentation. In a drawing file, one creates views (sectioned, detailed, orthographic, auxiliary, etc) accompanied with annotations, dimensions and Bill of Materials (BOM). There are two ways of creating drawing files in Inventor. One is with the *.idw file type and the other is with the *.dwg. The DWG format is an industry standard and such files may be viewed with AutoCAD-based applications.

Design of a Ball Mill with Autodesk Inventor Professional

Hello. If you've read my "About Me" page, then you might have at least knew a little about me. Well, just to reinterate, I'm a designer. Yeah, I'm one. Many times, I've always avoided such a big title, because as a mechanical engineer, I know what it takes to be a designer. But looking behind, with my training and my experience so far, I could at least say I'm among that league of great men who are changing the world silently.

Yes, engineers don't make noise. We aren't like the Rihannas, Bruce Lees, or Michael Jacksons, but the world depends on us.

Well, sorry for the digression. In this post, I just want to share with rendered images of one of my designs. Here, I'll be presenting to you a ball mill. I'm sure most engineers or engineering students already know what a ball mill is. If you aren't sure just follow this link: Ball Mill-Wikipedia and you'll have a glimpse of the machine. Thank God for wikipedia :)

So here they are:

Autodesk Inventor Assembly Design Approach

There are basically three approaches to assembly design with Autodesk Inventor: the Top-down approach; the Bottom-up apprach; and the middle-out approach. Perhaps, you might have been using these approaches already without recognizing them. So let's see what they are all about.

Bottom-Up Approach

The bottom-up approach to designing an assembly involves constructing all parts or components that make up the assembly in separate part files and placing them into the assembly using the Place Component tool. When this approach is used, the parts or component making up the assembly are external references and are can still be referenced in other assemblies or subassemblies. This approach is also very suitable in situations where most of the dimensions of the components are known.

Top-Down Approach

The top-down assembly design approach involves creating of components or parts in-place or within the assembly environment. This is done by using the Create Component tool in Inventor. When using the Create Component tool, the new component will be referenced from a plane - which may be the default XY, XZ, or YZ planes, user-defined work plane or the face of an existing part in the assembly. Components created in the assembly environment are adaptive and will update if any parameter of the reference component is changed.

Parts created with the top-down approach are internal to the assembly unless they are externalized. The process of externalization is automatically done by Inventor when the assembly file is saved. Another thing to be noted in the top-down approach in Inventor is that assembly constraints are automatically applied between the new parts and the features (planes) they were referenced from.

Let me also add that the method is very suitable when you need one or more parameter of a part to be referenced to another parameter on a different part making the new component adaptive as said earlier.

Middle-Out Approach

The middle-out assembly approach is also known as the hybrid approach. In this approach one combines the techniques of the bottom-up and top-down assembly design approach. This means that some of the files will be designed in-place (inside the assembly environment) while others will be designed in the part environment and placed into the assembly.