Sunday, February 19, 2012



Autodesk Inventor is a design application developed by Autodesk Inc, USA. Autodesk Inventor is a Digital Prototyping software and can be used for part design, assembly design, creation of presentation views of assemblies, and creation of associative engineering drawings of your part, assembly and presentation files.

Autodesk Inventor is a 3D feature-based parametric modelling design application. Inventor is said to be feature based because each modification that is made to a component is regarded as a feature. So in a design workflow for a component, you would most likely make use of extrusion, swept, lofted, revolved, threaded, hole, rib, fillet, shell, and chamfer features . If you are also experienced with surface modelling, you would likely use features like sculpt, thicken, patch, and trim. These features that can be modified anytime during the design process with Autodesk Inventor. This is also a big distinguishing factor between Inventor and AutoCAD. In AutoCAD, it is difficult to edit modification made to a 3D model even with the availability of the SHOWHIST and SOLIDHIST system variables. For instance, I can change the diameter and/or depth of a hole that was created on a model at any time during the design stage. Learn more about Types of Features in Autodesk Inventor.

Inventor is also said to be a parametric modeler because the sizes of these features and their relationship with each other; the relationship of one part to another in an assembly; the forces, pressures, and moments applied for stress analysis; and the forces, torques, velocity, and acceleration applied in dynamic simulation environment are all parameters! These parameters are actively involved in controlling the shape and behavior of the part or assembly being created, and during simulations and visualizations.

Autodesk Inventor is a digital prototyping software. Digital prototyping provides engineers, designers, manufacturers, salesmen, and marketers the ability to design, optimize, validate, simulate, and visualize their designs digitally before it is built physically. Digital prototyping can also be defined as an integrated process that involves the gathering of design data digitally to generate products (models and assemblies) whose form, fit, and function can be tested, optimized and validated. With digital prototyping, you do not start by building and testing a physical prototype - a workflow that is now regarded as being very expensive and obsolete. Rather, you design the part or assembly in a computer, validate and optimize to reduce errors and correct likely problems, and visualize the model to see how it will appear when it is physically built. With digital prototyping, a designer can save the tremendous cost that is associated with the building of physical prototypes.

In Inventor, one is able to design a part or component. After designing it, you can open the design model in the Stress Analysis environment where you can apply real-life constraints (forces, moments, gravity, etc) on it to see if the component can withstand such loads. With the results, the designer is able to make changes until the components meet the design specifications. Also, the designer can open his assembly inside the Dynamic Simulation environment where he can apply joints between parts and forces to mimic real-life situations. So the designer is able to see how his assembly will performance in real time with respect to the applied parameters.

Most new users who are migrating from AutoCAD are usually confused at first and tend to misuse the tools in Inventor. This is because they do not understand the difference between designing with Inventor and AutoCAD. For example, while AutoCAD makes use of precise sketches for 3D modeling, Inventor makes use of parametric sketches. This means that the size and shape of the 3D model can be easily modified by changing the size and shape of the underlying sketch. Inventor stores values like the length of a line, the angle between two lines or the height of cylinder as parameters. It's also important to add that such parametric models created with inventor will automatically update once the any dimension defining it’s geometry is changed. Therefore Inventor could be said to be a dimension-driven parametric modeler. Learn more about sketches, parameters, and constraints.

There is associativity between all Inventor files that make use of any other Inventor file. For example, if a presentation file and drawing file are created based on a part file, the presentation file and drawing files will update to reflect any changes made to the part file at any time.

Apart from being able to optimize and validate designs, Inventor Professional can be used for creation of Weldment assemblies (that is assemblies containing parts that need to be joined together through welding processes e.g. frames). Inventor has another environment for creation of photorealistic images called the Inventor Studio. While the Presentation environment is used for creating exploded and animated views of one’s assemblies (which can be used by maintenance engineers during the maintenance of the machine). The Piping and Tubing environment is there to help you design your pipes and tubes faster and accurately. Imagine the tubes behind your refrigerator, Inventor can help you design that. As if those weren't enough, Inventor Professional also comes with an environment for Cable and Harness design. Now imagine all the complex interconnection of cables and harnesses under the hood (bonnet) of a car, Inventor can design those and still yell for more!

Learn more from Wikipedia and Autodesk.

Autodesk Inventor is mainly an application for mechanical engineering designers. Autodesk Inventor comes in various product lines including:

  1. Autodesk Inventor;
  2. Autodesk Inventor Routed System Design;
  3. Autodesk Inventor Tooling and Mold Design;
  4. Autodesk Inventor Simulation;
  5. Autodesk Inventor Professional.
  • Autodesk Inventor is customized to have only 3D mechanical design capabilities including standard part design, plastic part design, sheet-metal part design, assembly design, design visualization with Inventor Studio, design documentation, design automation, and design presentation.
  • Autodesk Inventor Routed System Design is customized to have all the capabilities of the standard Autodesk Inventor in addition to Cable and Harness design and Piping and Tubing designs.
  • Autodesk Inventor Tooling and Mold Design has all the capabilities of the standard Autodesk Inventor in addition to Tooling and Mold designs.
  • Autodesk Inventor Simulation has all the capabilities of the standard Autodesk Inventor in addition to design simulation and Finite Element Analysis (FEA).
  • Autodesk Inventor Professional has the capabilities of all the products mentioned above.

In conclusion, Autodesk Inventor wields a lot of power. Though the software might have some limitations (just has every other thing man does do), but the greatest limitation is in the user of the software. So maximize the potentials in Autodesk Inventor and change your world.

Find out more at Autodesk.