Category "Tips & Tricks"

Inventor 2017 R2 has introduced some useful new ballooning functionality in addition to some techniques you may not have been previously aware of.  Balloon sorting has been introduced this release, and works very well in cases where multiple balloons have been attached into one grouping.  Let’s take a look at the steps to accomplish this:


1. Typically, balloons might look like this to start.



2.Right click the balloon you want the others attached to and select one of the “attach” options.



3. Pick the other items you want attached.



4. Right click the balloon group and select “Sort Balloons”.



5. The result should look something like this after deleting the previous balloons.

Managing and tracking Teamcenter administrative data across multiple environments was never easy. Companies have relied on a wide variety of solutions for this – from manual process-based solutions like cheat sheets to automated custom build scripts to wrap numerous Siemens administrative utilities together. Some companies had a great deal of success in establishing a corporate standard Teamcenter environment from scratch using custom solutions; even for them, however, tracking the changes to admin data inside their Teamcenter environments or comparing admin data between different environments was a very tedious process. Not anymore, with the new set of admin data management capabilities Siemens introduced with Teamcenter 11.2

Now, we can easily perform the following four broad scenarios on nine types of administrative data (Access Manager rules, Organization data, Preferences, Projects, Revision rules, Saved queries, Style sheets, Subscriptions and Workflows), both in UI-based Teamcenter Environment Manager (TEM) and command line utilities modes.

1.      Analyzing how administration data is configured in any environment

A detailed administrative data report can be generated for any Teamcenter environment with all nine admin categories or with a few selected categories, or even a partial set from a specific category based on the filter set. These reports are static HTML reports and don’t have a live connection to the Teamcenter environment. These reports can be used to:

  • Document and review admin data configurations of any environment
  • Troubleshoot issues with any configuration
  • Include with IR for GTAC analysis of problems
  • Use for periodic reviews of production environments
  • Use as environment hand-off document
  • Use as a training document
  • Use to capture snapshots of admin data configurations at specific points in time

2.      Copying entire administration data or a subset from one environment to another

We can export administration data from one site and import it to another. This is very useful when we must ensure that one environment is configured the same as another, such as a test or training environment. We can also set up teams to work on specific parts of the administrative data in different test environments and then export only the administration data that changed from that environment. We can then consolidate the changes made by different teams by importing all of the administration data from multiple export packages into one environment. During the import, a dry run mode is also available, and it generates a detailed Java doc style report after import describing what changed. The tool also provides five broad categories for conflict resolution and merge during the import, but there is no graphical interface yet for manually overriding specific admin data.

3.      Comparing administration data between two sites

We can generate a report that compares the administration data from a source site to a target site. This can help us to determine the cause of differences in site behavior, determine the differences between customer environment and out of the box Teamcenter environment, quickly check if a new environment established using custom scripts is configured the same as a reference environment, or to see what is common and what is different between sites during a site consolidation effort.

4.      Tracking the impacts to an environment as administration data is imported over time

We can quickly determine when a particular change was introduced using a site’s administration data import history report. This report is automatically generated and maintained upon each successful import to a site.

These new capabilities are part of Siemens’ efforts to reduce the Teamcenter cost of ownership and help companies reduce IT costs through:

  • Setup environments becoming faster by automation instead of manual steps
  • Quicker learning curves by standardized and automated documentation
  • Easier bundling of admin data with software bundles
  • Faster troubleshooting

Siemens hasn’t deprecated any existing admin data utilities with the introduction of these new tools. All custom solutions using existing utilities should continue to work as is. The new tools use TCXML and closure rules behind the scenes, so it brings all related business objects used with admin data as a complete package as defined in the closure rules.

Do you have any questions about the new Teamcenter capabilities? Leave a comment and we’ll help you.

ilogic-snipSometimes CAD can be used to start establishing PLM practices. Since PLM systems rely on data to be effective, ensuring consistent and correctly-entered information is paramount. Things like classification with properties and meta-data can rely on CAD very heavily to be effectively used. For example, let’s consider the classification and data for a machined part. If the part is going to require machining, we could assign it a classification of “Machined.” Since the part is going to be machined, we would want to ensure that “Stock Size” is one piece of meta-data to be tracked. Most CAD systems have a way to ensure this “Stock Size” is at least filled out, and some could even be automated to calculate the stock size without any user intervention. Of course a repeatable logic would need to be utilized, but once that is done, time spent completing stock size calculations and potential errors would be eliminated.


Case in point: Utilize iLogic in Autodesk Inventor to calculate stock size for machined parts. Once this is done, users can forget about manually checking all the measurements; all they need to do is flag the part as “Machined” and the system does the rest!


ilogic-iterateA while back, I was visiting a customer with an interesting design challenge. They happened to be a specialty fastener manufacturer, and a big part of their design work includes the development of the part geometry (and associated tooling dies) as it goes through the forging operations to produce the final part. Just imagine that every change of the component from one forming operation to the next must maintain the same part volume. If the bolt’s head is shortened, then it must also increase in diameter to maintain the same volume. When making a bunch of design changes, you can only imagine how many attempts must be made at changing parameters to get the volume correct.

Since this customer is using Autodesk Inventor, there is an automation environment called iLogic that can be used to solve this challenge. With a bit of minor customization in iLogic, an iterative process can be developed to automatically adjust one parameter when another changes.

The following code could be adapted in iLogic to satisfy many similar situations:

Parameter.UpdateAfterChange = False
Dim CurrentVolume As Double
Dim VolumeDelta As Double
Dim OldVolume As Double
Dim PercentChange As Double
'reset the percent to a high value so the routine runs
PercentChange = 10

If HeadDepthChange <> 0 Then
    OldVolume = CDbl(iProperties.Volume)
    HeadDepth = HeadDepth - HeadDepthChange
    'iterate until volume nearly matches
    While  Abs(PercentChange) > .00000000001
        CurrentVolume = CDbl(iProperties.Volume)
        VolumeDelta = OldVolume-CurrentVolume
        Percentchange = VolumeDelta / OldVolume
        HeadDia = HeadDia + HeadDia*PercentChange/2
    End While

    CurrentVolume = CDbl(iProperties.Volume)
    VolumeDelta = OldVolume-CurrentVolume
    Percentchange = VolumeDelta / OldVolume
'    MessageBox.Show(PercentChange , "Final Percent of Change")
    MessageBox.Show("Original Volume = " & OldVolume & "  New Volume = " & CurrentVolume & "  Volume Difference = " & VolumeDelta, "Volume Change")
    HeadDepthChange = 0
End If

When I think of the countless customers I have consulted with over the years, it amazes me how many don’t use parameters to control the design and capture design intent! What is a parameter, you ask?  A parameter can be thought of in two ways when it comes to CATIA V5. Parameters are built the moment you start a new part – as you can see in the image below, we already have parameters for the Part Number, Nomenclature, Revision, Product Description, and Definition created automatically. Parameters are being created each time you build any feature.  These types of parameters are known as system parameters.


You can and should build your own parameters to define your design intent. It’s every bit as important during the initial stages of a design to define your intent this way as it is to make sure sketches are constrained properly. In fact, it helps you in your sketch constraints (every constraint is a feature that has parameters associated to it). In this simple example of a piece of standard rectangular tubing shown below, there are constraints defining the height, width, wall thickness, and radii. Even though this is very easy to create, if I am a designer I would want to design it in such a way that I never have to waste any time designing a piece of rectangular tubing again. If I am a design leader, I feel the same and don’t want any of my designers doing this again in any design that involves any piece of rectangular tubing. The use of parameters will get us there!



The parameters I am talking about are user defined parameters. Simple to create but very, very powerful in their functionality.  The simplest way to create a user defined parameter in CATIA V5 is through the fx icon found on the Knowledge toolbar.


You might be thinking, where have I seen that icon before? Oh yeah, in Excel when I need to create a formula for my cell. That is the point we are making here! In Excel, I use this function to compute things for me and make it easy to come up with a desired result.  In CATIA, we will create some parameters and then, when necessary, assign formulas to them to come up with our desired result.  When you click on the icon, you get the Formulas dialog and when you click on the drop down list next to the New Parameter of Type button, you can see you have many, many options.



There is a phrase among finite element analyst user community. Those who have been in the industry since a while must have heard of it at some point in their career.


It means that if the data being fed into the input deck is not correct or appropriate, the solver is very likely to give incorrect results, and that’s if it does not fail with errors. Many of us believe that getting some sort of result is better than getting fatal errors, which is not correct. Fatal errors give clear diagnostic messages to the user that allow him to correct the input deck. However, getting erroneous results sometimes makes a user feel that the simulation has been successful even though the results may be far from reality. Such situations are hard to predict and correct, as the underlying cause is not clearly visible.

One such situation arises when the user inadvertently chooses an element type that is not capable of capturing the actual physical behavior of the part or assembly with which the element is associated. The incompatibility may lie with respect to element material, element topology, element dimension, or the type of output associated with the element. The objective of this post is to highlight the capabilities and limitations of some lesser known element types available in the Abaqus element library to promote their proper usage.

Planar elements

These elements are further classified as either plane stress (CPS) or plane strain elements (CPE). The plane stress elements are used to model thin structures such as composite plate. These elements must be defined and can deform only in X-Y plane. For these types of elements:

szz = t xz = t yz = 0


The plane strain elements are used to model thick structures such as rubber gaskets. These types of elements must be defined and can deform only in X-Y plane. For these types of elements:

ezz = gxz = gyz = 0


Generalized plane strain elements


Tangent Select1Autodesk Inventor now includes a new selection filter.  It can be accessed the same way as many of the other selection filters using the “right-click” Tangent Select3menu in Inventor.  Let’s look at an example and the associated steps and results:

  1. Set “Faces and Edges” as your selection filter.  This is typically the default while editing individual components.
  2. Select a face, right click, and pick “Select Tangencies.”
  3. Perform an operation (such as changing color) to all the faces at the same time.


Use the selection set of tangent faces to:

  • Delete the selection set with Delete Faces.
  • Assign an appearance to the selection set.
  • Add or remove thickness to faces, or create an offset surface from a part face with the Thicken/Offset command.
  • Copy a set of faces from one component to another (handy for tooling development)

The “Select Tangencies” option can also be used to select a continuous set of tangent edges on a component.

Use the selection set of tangent edges to:

  • Fillet or chamfer the preselected edges.
  • Review or check for tangency conditions or closed loops.

As an FEA analyst, you are likely losing too much of your time in CAD repair.

If you are an experienced FEA analyst, you must have come across following types of situations often while meshing your models:

“I create 3D geometries in CAD uniting together several surfaces so that the CAD modeler itself sees one unique surface; however, whenever I export it as a .sat, .stp or even binary file for Parasolid and then import it into the FEA pre-processor, I again see all those surfaces that are not supposed to be there.”

“For some parts I am extruding surfaces to solids, and for some parts I am building solids out of intersecting surfaces. All in all, it is a kind of a box structure with a hole on one side. I started importing it to GUI part by part, and as soon as I have top and bottom plate and two sides, the meshing fails. How did you exactly resolve this meshing problem?”

The FEA user community knows that most of the user interfaces available for finite element analysis are good for FE modeling only – they are not expert CAD modelers. It often happens that the CAD model created is not free from defects from a meshing perspective. The most common problems are duplicate edges, gaps, silver surfaces, unnecessary patches, etc. The problem is often more severe if a CAD model is first translated to a neutral format such as .sat, .iges, .step files before being imported into the FEA pre-processor; the defects are generated during the translation. In many other cases, the repairs made in the CAD model are not propagated into FEA modeler. The only option left is to repair the geometry in the FEA model itself, but the repair tools required often don’t exist in these user interfaces.

One-click model transfer from CAD to FEA without any neutral file format

For Abaqus users, there is great news: the Abaqus CAE pre-processor now has associative interfaces for CATIA, ProE and SOLIDWORKS.

The CATIA V5 Associative Interface allows you to transfer CATIA V5 Parts and Products into Abaqus/CAE using associative import. Materials and publications assigned to the CATIA V5 model are also transferred to the Abaqus/CAE model as material and set definitions respectively. In addition to associative import, the CATIA V5 Associative Interface allows you to directly import the geometry of CATIA V5 models in .CATPart and .CATProduct format into Abaqus/CAE without any intermediate neutral files. The following options are available with CATIA V5 associative interface: […]

Are you installing a new version of Inventor, or reinstalling a previous version? Do you have a customized User Interface that you’d like to keep? Autodesk Inventor Professional allows you to import and export customized settings to the UI with a few easy steps.

Right-Click anywhere in the Ribbon and Select "Customize User Commands"

Right-Click anywhere in the Ribbon and Select “Customize User Commands


The Export and Import buttons allow you to save a customized interface and use it on other installations.

The Export and Import buttons allow you to save a customized interface and use it on other installations.

Application Settings can also be modified, saved, and used on other installations:

In the Application Menu, select the Options button. This takes you to the Application Options Menu.

In the Application Menu, select the Options button. This takes you to the Application Options Menu.


Image 4

Similar to the Ribbon Customization Interface, your application customization preferences can easily be imported and exported.

Thanks for reading!

Dassault Systèmes introduced a new licensing server a while ago to support licenses of all its products including SIMULIA. The server is called as Dassault Systèmes license server or DSLS. This article highlights the various installation and license management aspects of DSLS with specific focus on SIMULIA products on DSLS. It’s worthy to mention here that SIMULIA’s native FlexLM license server is still compatible with all SIMULIA products and releases and this compatibility is likely to continue in future as well.

The installation media: The best location to find latest version of DSLS media along with installation guide is the following:

As of March 2016, the latest version of DSLS is version 6.418.2 that supports all versions of SIMULIA 2016 line of products as well as other versions of Abaqus as old as Abaqus 6.12. The media provides options to install DSLS either as a license server or as a license management tool.

The server target ID: The FlexLM license server requires physical address of Ethernet Adapter local area connection, which is usually a 12 digit numerical string such as 5S-26-0A-3W-87-0C. The DSLS target ID extraction is quite different. The media contains an executable called DSLicTarget.exe that should be launched to get the DSLS target ID for a given server. The syntax of DSLS target ID is usually a three digit character followed by a long numeric number such as CAT-427B18A3C4168A67.

The visual look of DSLS: Shown below are three visual images of the DSLS once it is installed and launched.

When DSLS is installed but server is not started


When server is started but licenses are not enrolled



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