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News on the latest in design, manufacturing, fabrication, construction, and engineering technology.


No need to google it.  No, it isn’t a third party conversion program.  Nor is a magic spell cast by the Good Witch of the North required (no eye of a newt nor hair of a goat).  It is a relatively new feature of AutoCAD, it has been around for several releases now.  It can be accessed from the Big A, Import / PDF.  When you call the command, you will find you can either pick a PDF file to import, or select a PDF that is already referenced in the drawing.  The great thing, you can import the data as vector geometry. But wait, there’s more. You can have TrueType fonts come in as TrueType fonts!  If layers are defined in the PDF,  you can have those layers created automatically.  And it could be brought in as a block and have end-to-end lines and arcs come in as polylines. Yet another great thing about this feature.  Have you ever wanted to have a DWF become a DWG again?  No need to google DWF to DWG, though you will find some out ...

What's New in Autodesk Inventor 2018 – Interoperability
AnyCAD and Translator Enhancements AnyCAD Enhancements (not available in Inventor LT) Newer Versions of AnyCAD Formats are Supported  You must have the latest updates installed for your version of Inventor. Updates can be downloaded via the Autodesk desktop app or from manage.autodesk.com For more information, see About Importing Files from other CAD Systems.  Translator Enhancements CATIA R6 - V5-6R2016 is now supported.  For more information, see Translator Support.    DWG Underlay Enhancements   Insert a DWG File Directly into Your Assembly You can now import your DWG file directly into an assembly using the Place Components command. In the Place Component dialog box, you can now choose to include a DWG file as a placed component in your assembly.  Previously, you had to open DWG geometry in an assembly by placing a part file that contained DWG model geometry.  For more information, see About Importing Files from Other CAD Systems.    Select Multiple DWG Files When Creating More Than One Underlay You can now insert multiple DWG files directly into an Inventor assembly or part file to use as an associative DWG underlay.  When you place or import a DWG file into your part or assembly, any ...

Professional Development for Our Robot Replacements by Autodesk https://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2017-03-16/professional-development-for-our-robot-replacements-video The classic industrial robot is a deaf, dumb and blind arm deployed to carry out repetitive tasks reliably. Now, companies such as Autodesk Inc. are developing peripheral vision systems and software which allows robots to work closely with humans in factories and workshops. (video by Matt Gottschalk, David Nicholson) (Source: Bloomberg)     

What's New in Autodesk Inventor 2018 - Drawings
Drawing Open Enhancements The following changes occur in the lower section of the File Open dialog box:   The Find command is accessed via an icon  in the lower left section between the Help button and Quick Launch commands.  The Last Saved information is now below the thumbnail preview. A combo box for opening in Full or Defer mode is added between the Options…and Quick Launch buttons. Defer combines the previous Defer Updates and Fast Open commands into one action causing the drawing document to open without updating or loading reference documents (parts, assemblies, etc.).      In the File Open Options... dialog box the Full or Defer combo button replaces the Defer Updates and Fast Open checkboxes.    For more information, see To File Open Options - IDW Drawings Reference.  Drawing View Dialog Box  The Drawing View dialog box has been modestly rearranged to accommodate new options. These are the changes:  General The Preview in the lower left corner is ...

What's New in Autodesk Inventor 2018 - Assemblies
Shrinkwrap and BIM Content Enhancements Shrinkwrap tools have been enhanced for more control, improved user interface, and an improved workflow. The following are highlights of those improvements:  Access: Shrinkwrap is immediately accessible on the Assembly tab in the Simplification panel.  On first use of Shrinkwrap, for those acquainted with the legacy behavior, you will notice the consolidation of the dialog boxes. There is a single dialog box with three tabs.  Components tab - contains the document level information such as representations and the choices you have for removing components.  Features tab - contains the choices for easily defining which features to remove from the shrinkwrap part. You can retain specific feature types, remove them, or remove them by a range value. Additionally there are tools to help detect and preserve features.  Create tab - contains the file related information, shrinkwrap style, and other settings.  Highlights of the improved workflow:  Remove components that are invisible and/or within a specified size range and (optionally) interactively select those you want to keep.  ...

Modal-Based Definition Model-Based Definition (MBD), is a powerful new set of tools for adding annotations, GD&T, and other manufacturing information directly to a 3D part.  Tip: Be sure to check out the guided tutorial in the gallery to help you get started using the new commands.  3D Annotation To access the 3D annotation commands, use the new Annotate tab in a part file and add the manufacturing information directly to the 3D model.  Use the Tolerance Feature command to attach GD&T annotations, Feature Control Frames, and Datum Identifiers to part faces or features. Enable the Tolerance Advisor browser to check the health of your tolerance scheme and display information such as the following:    List of potentially problematic datums and Datum Reference Frames (DRF's).  Information about which features are not fully controlled.  Errors in a tolerance feature.        Tip: Right-click an entry and select More Information to open a help page specific to the message.    Use the General Annotation and Text commands to fully document your model.      Note: 3D annotations and view representations are displayed when you ...

Productivity and Performance Enhancements Productivity Improvements Easier access to Express mode Open for assemblies. In drawing views, a delay has been added to the view update when you are editing the scale. The delay allows you to enter the new scale without the view reacting to each number entered.  You can exclude surfaces from drawing views. In the Drawing View dialog box, on the Recovery Options tab, clear the checkbox on Include Surface Bodies.  In a deferred drawing, you can access Defer Updates from the context menu. The behavior is the same as if you were accessing the option from Document Settings.  You can change the view preview option from the Open dialog. Clear the check on the eyeglasses and the preview is a bounding box. Browser state icon for out of date components. Views with out of date components also get the state icon.    Parameters A Consumed by column is added to the parameters table to make it easy ...

Are you one of those companies who names their layout tabs to reflect the actual sheet numbers?  Are you finding yourself updating layout tab names only to have to return to the layout to update the sheet number?  Are you not using the sheet set manager to manage the sheet numbers?  If so then, you may want to try using a field that reflects the layout tab name.  Here's an example . . . Here I have a layout tab titled "A-1".  I'd like my title block sheet number to reflect that layout tab name: So in the title block (either use the block editor or edit the title block prior to inserting it) I use the FIELD command to add a system variable ctab field: Adjust the justification and height as needed, but when done you should have something similar to this: Now (after you close the block editor and save changes or upon the insertion of the title block) you will see that your title block sheet reflects the layout tab name: And it should follow throughout your project for any tab ...

Using iLogic Design Copy is a great way to copy an assembly that is set up to drive parts from an assembly by using iLogic code.  The process to do this is fairly simple.     Make sure no files are open in Inventor.  The command will not exist in the TOOLS tab if you have any file open.   Once the Dialog Box is open, you can select the assembly you wish to copy.   All of the children of the assembly will be automatically selected. If you need this assembly design copied to a new project, you can enter that information in this dialog box.  It will automatically create the project name based on the location you store it in.  You can BROWSE or type in a path.  Also, notice that you can change the filenames of the parts with either a prefix or suffix.  Keep in mind that you will need to update any ...

Yesterday AutoCAD 2018 was released by Autodesk.  If you don't yet see it in your Autodesk account or you don't yet have an Autodesk account then you can download your free trial here: AutoCAD 2018 Free Trial.   So what's new in this release of AutoCAD?   First and foremost, it must be known that the drawing format has changed to 2018.   Some of the highlighted enhancements include: Updates to PDF imports including better importation of geometry, SHX font files, fills, raster imagery and True Type fonts. The ability to fix broken external reference paths for externally referenced files. A stronger object selection to include items you've selected even if they pan or zoom off screen.  Updates to the user interface to include some of the more commonly used tools. High-resolution monitor support for the best possible viewing experience, even on 4K and higher resolution displays. And much more!!! Here is a general overview of the new features: Here is a link to all the ...

   Inventor 2017.3.1 Update (for Customers with Subscription)   Description of the Issues Addressed: When creating Break Out View Depth does not recognize tapped hole feature as selection with 'To Hole' option BOM export to xls no longer preserves trailing zero's Shape Generator browser entries aren't available when using custom material library iProperties Date changing when system clock changes with Daylight Savings Time Unexpected exit when updating iFeature Unexpected exit when export IDW to DXF Degenerated splines which aren't zero-length are not shown on Export Running macro incorrectly flags files as dirty An unintended line is created when exporting to PDF ActiveDocument should return Nothing and OnActiveWebView event should fire when MyHome is active ...

In this post I wanted to share with you a discovery I made recently while teaching an Inventor fundamentals class.  I was actually demonstrating the new DWG Underlay functionality, and afterwards, illustrating the annotation tools within Inventor, including the Hole Note tool.  What I received when trying to create a Hole Note was the following error message (see image below): Now for some backdrop on how I got this error.  The workflow you will see here is a valid scenario for bringing in AutoCAD DWG Underlays into Inventor, and then detailing the drawing.  The drawing file was imported into inventor, but the drawing was a Model Space only file, with the geometry to be used, scaled at 2:1. So, the geometry that I was projecting from AutoCAD to use to model my part was double the size.  I used the Direct Edit command with the Scale option to scale the part down by .5 , resulting in a model that was true to scale.  Finally, when detailing the drawing from this model, I tried to use the Hole and Thread note ...

While recently assisting a client with a vault upgrade, we came across an issue that caused a problem when backing up the vault, and I thought it was important enough to write about in order to save you the time and frustration of trying to discover the issue. We had completed the upgrade process from Vault Professional 2015 SP2 to Vault Professional 2017 without any hitches. Our next step was to perform a backup of the vault prior to installing the Vault 2017 Hotfix 1.  We received the following error when attempting the backup: Figure 1: Vault Backup error Access to the path is denied. The path that was being denied was the path listed in the Shared Path location in the Advanced Settings dialog box. We spent time checking the path and verifying that we had proper read/write access to the path in question.  Figure 2: The Share Path is found in Tools > Administration > Advanced Settings. This path was set in the 2015 vault, because it is necessary to configure a shared network folder as a transition area between a ...

Here’s an interesting issue that can start happening when launching any flavor of AutoCAD.   The message comes from the ACInetEngine and states the following: “Could not write to the Internet cache on your computer.”  Following the error message is instructions on what to do to cure the problem, but for some users the problem persists. If you have experienced this problem and have tried the prescription but are still experiencing the issue, try the following additional steps as outlined in the following Autodesk Knowledge Network (AKN) article. Could not write to the Internet cache If you continue to experience the issue after attempting the steps outlined, please contact our support team for assistance.

One of the things that I love about AutoCAD is that most fixes can be easily identified and completed rather quickly.  I recently had a client reach out to me concerning some functionality that was no longer working as expected in their AutoCAD 2010 product.  Both of their issues stemmed around a system variable that had been mysteriously changed. The first problem my client had was a missing Quick Properties palette.  She loved the ability to select an item in AutoCAD, and to use the Quick Properties palette to quickly change the layer, color, linetype (among others).   The solution was to type in QUICKPROPERTIES at the command prompt, and to enable it by changing it to 1.  There are options available within Quick Properties to allow greater functionality that have been developed since 2010, so if you like Quick Properties, be sure to check out Help in AutoCAD to learn all about it. The second problem was that she lost the ability to double-click on her MText in order to edit the text.  We checked the DBLCLKEDIT system variable, which was ...

A vast majority of software installs go without a hitch.  Inventor is no exception.  Occasionally though, installs can appear to go smoothly and it's not until you try to use certain functionality, that you realize that there are some problems.  I recently had a client experience issues when editing one of Inventor 2017's Content Center Family Tables.  Autodesk is aware of the problem and working on a fix.   If you've experienced anything similar, there is a workaround, but let me first describe the problem (Note: I was not able to reproduce the problem, and it may in fact be present due to other programs installed on the system). In this case in point, the user selected the ANSI S I-Beam family and did a Save Copy As, maintaining a Link to the parent family.  Once completed, he then proceeded to edit the newly created family using the Family Table Editor.  This is where things go awry.  By simply trying to modify the part number cells to align with his company standards, the other cells in the table automatically change ...

To Create a DWG file to Use as a Title Block You can insert any DWG file as a title block, provided that it does not contain any unsupported objects. Use AutoCAD, AutoCAD LT, or a different AutoCAD vertical product to create lines, text, images, attribute definitions, and other 2D geometry to generate your title block.  To Insert a DWG File as a Title Block 1. Under Sheet Settings, select Title Block > Insert Title Block.  2.Select the DWG file to insert as a title block.  The DWG inserts into the drawing sheet. For correct placement, make sure the WCS origin point (0,0) in the AutoCAD DWG file is the bottom right corner of your title block.  To Define Attributes in AutoCAD When you create attribute definitions in the DWG file using AutoCAD, those attributes are "picked up" by the Fusion Drawings workspace, meaning if you double-click the title block, you can populate your own title block prompts in the text fields.  1. At the command line in AutoCAD, enter the ATTDEF command. The Attribute Definition dialog box displays.  2.Add a Tag. Tags identify the location of the ...

Administrators of Vault can pack Inventor designs into Vault easily and in bulk via the Autoloader.  However, often times an Inventor user, who isn’t on the Admin list, has built an Inventor model or assembly ‘on the side’ and is ready to add it into Vault.  The following outlines the steps that user can take to get an Inventor personal project into Vault. Preliminary Setup: If you haven’t already, access any existing Inventor Design stored in Vault.  This is done to build the folder structure needed to add the un-vaulted design. In my example, I have a design in my “D:\Projects\Inventor Projects” folder, while the Vault workspace is set to “D:\Projects\Vault Workspace 2017”. The Inventor assembly I will be moving over is a skid containing several sub-assemblies.  I will copy the entire folder structure of the skid assembly over to my “Vault Workspace 2017\Designs\DRH Inventor Designs”.  This folder corresponds to the Vault folder where I store my Inventor projects inside of Vault. Notice in the image above, I have already moved the Centrifugal Pump over.  I did not have to do this ahead of ...

Assuredly and quite by accident, you have turned-off the little green dot that shows snapping in your Inventor sketch environment.  But now, how to get it back on?  The first thing to check is Constraint Settings from within the sketch environment or the Application Options from the Tools Ribbon tab.  But the other day, I had a call that said the settings were correct, but they still were not getting a green dot at the origin point of the sketch plane.  Come to find out, the point had not been projected.  We added it, and corrected the setting for that as well.  See the image below for the whereabouts to check your settings.

In AutoCAD you notice that the text within menus, the ribbon, dialog boxes, and palettes is rather large and may overlap other elements within the user interface or not appear at all.   The cause of this due to the fact that the Windows operating system governs how the user interface text is displayed in AutoCAD, and a high definition or high DPI monitor can make the program interfaces appear very small on the screen.  Scaling up the text size to compensate for this can have an adverse affect on how user interface text shows in AutoCAD. Current versions of AutoCAD-based products are optimized for monitor displays with a resolution under 2000. The solution is to install update 2017.1.1 for AutoCAD 2017 and AutoCAD LT 2017 and other AutoCAD 2017-based vertical products.  However, you cannot simply go to the Autodesk website to install this update.  The AutoCAD 2017.1.1 update can only be downloaded and installed via the Autodesk Desktop App.   To read more about this issue and resolution read this:  Odd text display within user interface elements in AutoCAD

Assemblies   Multiple Enhancements to Analyze Interference The new option in Interference Analysis dialog box, Treat subassemblies as components, lets you treat sub-assemblies as single components and ignore the interferences within the sub-assemblies. The  Interference Detected  dialog box now includes:  Information about each interference.  Interference type filtering options. Focus on the information you need to check by including only the interferences you want to see.  ​**Note: The Reference components filter only displays when the assembly includes an AnyCAD reference imported 3rd party file. Ignore and Un-ignore options. You can: Right-click an item and select to ignore the selected volume or ignore all interference volumes less than a selected value. Select or deselect the Ignored filter to show or hide the ignored interferences in the list. **Note: An ignored interference is displayed with a cross line. Right-click an ignored interference ...

General Measure Enhancements  Easily restart Measure by clicking in the graphics window.    A Dual Unit, Foot-Architectural, is now available for Measure Distance, Loop, and Area. **Note: Fractions smaller than 1/128 are not supported**   Additional Workflow Enhancement You can now use a crossing window to select multiple closed profiles when creating features with the Revolve, Sweep, Coil, Chamfer, and Fillet commands.   3D PDF 3D PDF export is significantly faster and now supports View representation color overrides.   Sketch Select Tangencies Now Available within Project Geometry Command The Select Tangencies behavior, previously only available in Parts and Assemblies, is now also available in the sketch environment when the Project Geometry command is active. You can now quickly create a selection set of all the faces or edges tangent to each other in the sketch Project Geometry:  With the left mouse button, double-click a face or an edge. OR Select a face or an edge, right-click, and select Select Tangencies from the context menu.   Projected Sketch References are Now Maintained When Redefining a Sketch   Previously if you redefined the plane that a part ...

There will be times when you need to show the QTY's of multiple members of an iAssembly in your drawing Bill of Material. Here is how to do that: Create your iAssembly and your various configurations.  In this example, I have 2 configurations that need to be shown in the BOM.  As you can see below, by default it only shows the one I have placed on a drawing view. Right-click on the Parts List placed on the drawing and select "Edit Parts List" Next select the "MEMBER SELECTION" icon at the top of the dialog box and either select the members to show in the BOM or choose "YES TO ALL". Lastly, select OK and OK again.  You ...

"I'm fine with my current version of AutoCAD.  There's no need to upgrade."  "My current version of AutoCAD does everything I need." "There are no new features in the new software that I need."  We've all heard this before.  I hear it almost daily.  Why are some folks so reluctant to make that move?  There are several factors that prevent users from making the move forward to the newer version of software. .  . Comfort - Some users are just satisfied with their current version. Cost – Some users believe that the cost of implementing the new software will be grand.  Time – Others believe that they’re just too busy to make the move right now.  Don’t allow these factors to put you so far behind the curve that playing catch up is almost difficult to accomplish.  Every year there are updates to the software that are implemented because users have requested them or because technology is driving us there.  If you adopt these changes in one release at a time they’re ...

When at attempting a standalone or network version to launch AutoCAD 2017 (or any 2017 vertical product) for the first time the software opens and then displays a dialog box titled "Licensing Error" and the message inside reads, "The License manager is not functioning or is improperly installed. AutoCAD will shut down now."   Autodesk provided a solution for this problem here:  The license manager is not functioning or is improperly installed