Category "Autodesk"

In the last several years, there hasn’t been a lot of ground-breaking additions to most 3D CAD software.  One of the more recent Autodesk Inventor developments in the last couple years has been the addition of the “Direct Edit” tool.  This recent addition can be used to edit models independently of any feature history.  This means you can edit models that were developed natively in Inventor, or imported as basic solid geometry from another CAD system.  The Direct Edit tool has a variety of functions including:

  1. Moving faces or solid bodies
  2. Sizing faces
  3. Scaling solid bodies
  4. Rotating faces or solid bodies
  5. Deleting faces

The “move” function has a “snap to” option where you can select geometry or a plane to set the new face termination distance.  Of course the default “offset” distance” is also available.  The “size” function allows for offsetting geometry, but there is also a diameter option that works particularly well with cylindrical shapes like hole or shaft sizes.  There are also functions within the tool to re-align the “triad” which allows for movement or rotation to be aligned with any edge or face in the model.

Once a model has been edited with the direct edit tool, you will notice that it will be documented in the model browser where it can be editing like any other feature in the Inventor model browser.  Each of the direct edit sessions will be listed as separate features in the browser, and each feature can be expanded out to modify any of the functions applied.

Overall, this is a tool within Autodesk Inventor that is well worth learning.  For more information, email us at Info.Americas@tatatechnologies.com

One of the more common issues that come accross our helpdesk is the failed Vault log in attempt.  We try not insult the intelligence of anyone calling in, so we forego the typical first response of “Did you type your user name and password correctly?” or “Is the server on?” (I wish other technology providers would do this to…)

The first thing I will do in this situation is to see if the list of Vaults is accessible.  This will tell me that we have valid connection to the server.  The list of Vaults can be accessed by the button with the ellipses as shown below.

login

Clicking this button should then show you the list of enabled Vaults on that server, as seen here.

vaults

If you get an error message here, then I will try a couple things.  There may be a proxy server in your environment, or some other kind of IP route settings.  We can try using the fully qualified domain name (FQDN) or the IP Address, as seen in the two images below.  The FQDN should be pretty easy to decipher.  The pattern is server name and the domain name (typically the part after the @ symbol in you work email address).  An example is server.domain.com; server is the server name (a.k.a. host name, third-level domain), followed by a period, domain is the name of the domain (a.k.a. second-level domain), and .com at the end, which could also be .org, or .net (a.k.a. top-level domain).

fqdn2

The IP address may not be as readily known.  You may try PING‘ing the server, which, if successful, responds with the IP address.  Some smart IT folks will disable the ICMP protocol (which PING is a part of), so you may just have to ask your network administrator for the IP.

ip

There may be one more thing to try, and that is to append a port number.  Adding a port number is valid on any of the three methods above; server only, FQDN, and IP address.  To specify a port number, just add a colon and the port number to the end.  If your Vault requires a port, you will have to contact your administrator to determine which port to use.

port

If, after all of this, there is still trouble logging into Vault, then it may be time to seek helpdesk support.

Autodesk Vault is a robust PDM system with sundry nuances and features.  In this post, I will be showing various links to websites that have a ton of great information.  These links will be useful for seasoned administrators to the first time end user.

First, help docs.  These online help docs from Autodesk are the definitive resource for anything and everything Vault.

Vault 2018 – http://help.autodesk.com/view/VAULT/2018/ENU/

Vault 2017 – http://help.autodesk.com/view/VAULT/2017/ENU/

Vault 2016 – http://help.autodesk.com/view/VAULT/2016/ENU/

Next we have some community sites from Autodesk, where you can get assistance, offer advice, and even contribute ideas that may be implemented in a future release.

Autodesk Vault Forum – http://forums.autodesk.com/t5/vault/ct-p/2004

Autodesk Vault Ideas – https://forums.autodesk.com/t5/vault-ideas/idb-p/2/tab/most-recent

Autodesk Knowledge Network Screencast – https://knowledge.autodesk.com/community/screencasts/VAULTPRODUCTS

This site is like a YouTube channel designed and built by Autodesk, specifically for Autodesk Products.  What makes it different is the recording software will actually tracks which commands you are using, which product is currently being shown, dialog boxes, and files in use.  This gives the viewer a much more meaningful learning experience.  These features are only implemented in Inventor, Revit, and AutoCAD at the time of this post, however, I expect Autodesk to be adding this functionality for Vault as well.

Next we have some blogs from Autodesk.

Cracking the Vault – http://autodesk.com/crackingthevault

Just Ones and Zeros – http://justonesandzeros.typepad.com/

This is a great site for the coders out there, looking to get more out of their Vault experience.

Under the Hood – http://underthehood-autodesk.typepad.com/

This last one is a shared product blog with Fusion Lifecycle (formerly PLM 360).

Now for some more administrator type content; system requirements and readme’s

Vault 2017 System requirements – https://knowledge.autodesk.com/support/vault-products/getting-started/caas/CloudHelp/cloudhelp/2017/ENU/Vault-Install/files/GUID-B64117E4-FA07-4145-8B5F-86973B13EB11-htm.html

Vault 2016 System Requirements – https://knowledge.autodesk.com/support/vault-products/getting-started/caas/CloudHelp/cloudhelp/2016/ENU/Vault-Install/files/GUID-B64117E4-FA07-4145-8B5F-86973B13EB11-htm.html

Vault 2017 Readme – http://download.autodesk.com/us/support/files/vault_2017/readme_autodesk_vault.html

Vault 2016 Readme – http://download.autodesk.com/SWDLDDLM/Updates/Vault/2016/readme_autodesk_vault.html

If you have been using Autodesk Inventor for a while you may already know this, but there is a process for migrating Inventor’s “Content Center” libraries.  This should be done to ensure you don’t end up with duplicate parts (file names) for the same fastener, pin or other common part.  When libraries are migrated, it allows the new software version and its updated libraries to recognize that a particular existing component is being placed.  The existing model will be utilized in this case.  If the libraries are not migrated, a whole new set of model files will get created when you start placing component from Content Center in a new version of Inventor.

Here is the general procedure:

  1. Determine where your current style library is located.  It may be in the default location for individual users, or may be in a common location.
  2. Launch the “Autodesk Inventor Style Library Manager”.  This is a separate program in Windows that isn’t started from within Inventor.
  3. In the “Style Library 1” area browse to your old style library that you located in step 1.  It should say that “some style collections need migration”.
  4. Select the Migrate button at the bottom

I also recommend backing up an previous style libraries before migrating them.  There have been various accounts of libraries failing to migrate and becoming corrupted.  Making a backup and testing the migration is imperative if you have extensive modifications in your existing style library.

Typically when new software releases come out, there are always a few really key improvements that really stand out.  Many times, it is a cool new modeling feature, or maybe an entirely new approach to design.  In Inventor, this might be like the addition of Freeform Modeling or Direct Editing as examples.  Unfortunately these are features or techniques that might not be applicable to many users.

If you are using both Autodesk Inventor and Vault together however, you should probably pay attention to this one:  The Vault status icons in the “recently used” area.  These icons now clearly identify the current Vault status of one of your recent files when in the Inventor “Open” dialog box.  Is the file checked out?  Is the file checked in, and up to date in my workspace? Has someone else modified the file since I last worked on it?  Have I checked in my latest development ideas or new parts yet?  All of these can be determined simply by noticing the Vault status bubbles in the “Open” dialog box.

Vault Status Icons

Autodesk University Session: 60 Tips in 60 Minutes – Autodesk Inventor 2018 Quick Tips

Whether new to Inventor software or a seasoned pro, you’ll learn something from this fast-paced course that will highlight 60 Inventor tips in 60 minutes. We’ll showcase some of the less obvious commands or features and their location within the Inventor environment. Along the way we’ll look at how some of the tips work and how they might help you in your daily designing. So buckle up—we’ve got a lot to cover and only 60 minutes to get it done.

Find out more about Tim’s Autodesk University Session:  Autodesk University Session Registration

With an i GET IT subscription, login at https://myigetit.com to view the upcoming live technical sessions and recordings, including Tim’s Autodesk 2018 Quick Tips session recording.

 

About i GET IT Online Training Management for Engineers

i GET IT is an online engineering knowledge development and sharing tool, which specifically addresses the engineering community with an extensive MCAD/PLM training library, powerful customization tools, learning management features and assessment capabilities.

Unlike other generic learning providers, i GET IT is created by dedicated resources from industry PLM leaders at Tata Technologies. This allows us to offer the most comprehensive training solution for the leading engineering design and manufacturing applications plus industry skills, providing a consistent and updated offering for each release. It also allows i GET IT to consult directly with customers, providing customized solutions that fit your exact training needs and beyond.

So how does your company handle the training and skill advancement needs of your engineers?  Realize your design potential at https://myigetit.com

 

PDF Publishing

‘Nuff said.

*and there was much rejoicing*

Well, maybe I could add a little more detail. It has long been known that the PDF is the currency of visual data exchange. All too often, I work with users and organizations that have to print PDFs outside of Vault, creating an uncontrolled document. If you were using the item master (discussed by my colleague here), you could attach it to the item; however, keeping it up to date is still going to be a manual process.

Now, thanks to the #1 most requested feature being implemented, that will no longer be an issue. Vault will now publish PDFs as part of your release process (as part of a transition action in a lifecycle change). This file will be categorized differently than the native CAD file, or even the DWF visualization file. The new category is called “Design Representation,” which can then be assigned its own set of rules, properties, and lifecycles.

As of this release, we have the ability to publish 2D file formats: DWG and IDW; that means either AutoCAD based files or Inventor drawings can be published to PDF. At some point, Autodesk may need to add the 3D PDF generation that was added to Inventor recently – which, by the by, could be used to publish all of the new Model Based Definition (MBD) annotations Inventor 2018 has added. I suspect we could see 3D publishing in the next release, or even a mid-year “R2” release (if there is an “R2;” who knows at this point).

Questions, comments, and celebrations welcome.

When working with our customers, from time to time, we’ll get questions on why they see unexpected results in some of their searches. This typically happens when they search without wildcards (I’ll explain later). In this blog post, I hope to shed some light on what can be a confusing experience for some Vault users.

The search engine in Vault operates on a on a general computer science principle called general Tokenization. This process essentially chops up the indexed properties into chunks called tokens. When a user searches in Vault (either quick search or advanced find), the search engine will attempt to match the tokens in the search string to the tokens in the appropriate properties.  Before going further, I’ll explain how Vault does the slicing and dicing.

First, there are three categories of characters (for our purposes, at least); alpha [a-z, A-Z], numeric [0-9], and special [#^$, blank space, etc.].  Vault will parse the string and sniff out groups of characters belonging to a category.  For instance, ABC123$@# would be tokenized into 3 individual tokens:

  • ABC
  • 123
  • $@#

Again, what happened is that Vault saw the first character, A, and understood it to be an alpha character. Vault then asked “Is the next character an alpha, too?” to which the answer was yes, so the token became AB. C was then added to the initial token, as it too was an alpha character.  However, the answer was “No”, when it came to the character 1.  Vault finished its first token and began the next one, now that it sensed a different category of character. Vault continued this line of questioning with the subsequent characters.

Another example might be a file name like SS Bearing Plate-6×6.ipt. Here, we have 8 tokens:

  • SS
  • Bearing
  • Plate
  • 6
  • x
  • 6
  • ipt

Now, you may have caught the missing period. Vault will only tokenize six special characters – all others are ignored. These special special characters (sorry, had to do it) are:

  • $ (dollar sign)
  • – (dash)
  • _ (underscore)
  • @ (at symbol)
  • + (plus)
  • # (octothorpe, aka number sign)

So now where do the unexpected results come in? This usually happens when an incomplete token is used without wild cards. For example, a user wants to find a specific mounting bracket. This user then types in “mount,” expecting that to be enough. In our hypothetical Vault environment, the results would return “Fan mount.ipt” but not “Mounting bracket.ipt” like they intended. Why? Remember that Vault is trying to match exact tokens (again, without wild cards).

If the user had entered mount*, the results would return the expected “Mounting bracket.ipt” as the user intended.

Moral of the story?  Always use wild cards…always.  No, really, all the time.  For everything.

One of the first things I typically discuss with customers concerning file management is the relationship between files in their engineering data.  This is especially the case when working with data from 3D CAD systems like Autodesk Inventor. When you have Assemblies, parts, drawings, and presentations all with linked file relationships, it can be extremely challenging to manage this data without a tool that understands and maintains all the file links.  Simply renaming a single file can cause all sorts of problems if done in Windows Explorer.  Here are some of the areas where file relationships matter.

  1. Part, Assy, Drawing – As previously mentioned, 3D CAD data can be a challenge to manage.  Simply understanding where a file is used (or linked) can be tremendously helpful.
    vault-where-used

    “Where Used” within Autodesk Vault

  2. Copy Design – There is a “copy design” tool in Autodesk Vault that can make it much easier to reuse existing designs in the creation of variants based on the original.  This also reduces the amount of duplicate data in Vault because so much more is reused rather than recreated.
  3. Renaming – In many workflows, files are initially created using descriptive filenames.  These files then need to be renamed once a design is approved and will go into production.  With Inventor data, renaming files in Windows Explorer will break the links between parts, assemblies, and drawings. The files then have to be manually relinked, which can become extremely troublesome if a file was used by more than one assembly without knowing it.  When someone opened up the other assembly, the file would be missing and very difficult to locate.  Vault simply fixes all the file references whenever a file is renamed so this isn’t a problem.
  4. Moving – Files that are moved in Windows Explorer can cause the same problems as renaming, but usually because of the way Inventor uses project files. Using Autodesk Vault with a single Vault type project file eliminates many of the challenges in moving files to more relevant or common locations.
  5. Attachments – Attachments in Vault can also be tracked.  One example might be a design specification document that might apply to a whole class of components.  The design spec can be attached to the relevant designs.  If the design spec document changes, you can simply do a “where used” from it to see which files will be impacted by the specification change.

Autodesk Vault uses the concept of a “Local Workspace” whenever files are opened or checked out.  Essentially, whenever a Vault file is accessed, a copy is cached in the workspace on the user’s local workstation.  From a user perspective, the workspace can be ignored for much regular work.  There are several benefits of a local workspace.

  1. get-to-workspacePerformance improvement over network share – One of the problems without a PDM system is that files are opened directly across the network.  Files being accessed and edited are located on a network share, and stay there while being worked on.  In environments with multiple users working with large datasets, this can become a disaster.  When files are checked out from Vault, they are cached locally and the workstation’s drives are able to respond to changes more quickly than a network server.
  2. Offline workflows – The local workspace also allows users to retrieve data to work on while disconnected from their corporate network.  The local workspace actually acts much like a briefcase:  The user simply checks out files, disconnects from the network and works on them, and checks them back in when they return to the network and are logged back into Vault.
  3. Better distributed workforce management – For companies with distributed workforces, the local workspace can also be a big benefit.  Combining the performance and offline workflows really makes workflows possible with a distributed workforce.  All that is required is a remote VPN connection, and then files can be checked in and out of Vault.  The VPN doesn’t have to be permanently connected.  When disconnected, it will really be just like an offline workflow.  Since files that are checked out from Vault reside locally, the distributed users still have good performance while editing and saving their work.

 

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