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    Bio

    By Chris Smith

    Introduction

    In the latest release of Autodesk Inventor (2024), we have had the introduction of a new Finish tool that allows the user to add surface finish details.

    There has always been the option to change the Appearance of an object in Autodesk Inventor, but any information about the surface finish or treatment needed to be added to the drawing, or more recently, 3D annotations. With the introduction of the new Finish tool, we can add rich data to the appearance for use in later processes.

    Below is a quick overview of the new tool and some of the features available.

    Autodesk_Inventor_2024___New_Finish_feature_-_1.png

    Finishes can be applied to models in both the part and assembly environment. The Finish tool is available in the Modify panel in the part environment and the appearance panel in the assembly environment.

    As the finish now acts like a feature, we can also apply multiple finishes to the same part or assembly by adding different finishes to different faces or associating a finish to a model state.

    For the example below, a toe blade from an excavator bucket, I have created several model states to show each stage of the manufacture process.

    Autodesk_Inventor_2024___New_Finish_feature_-_2.png

    The first model state is “raw stock” and does not have a Finish applied to it. All features after the initial extrusion are supressed.

    Autodesk_Inventor_2024___New_Finish_feature_-_3.png

    Next, we have the machining phase. In this model state we have added hole and chamfer features and included our first Finish feature.

    Autodesk_Inventor_2024___New_Finish_feature_-_4.png

    From the icon displayed in the model browser for Finish1, we see the surface texture symbol and editing the feature we can take a closer look at the inputs.

    Autodesk_Inventor_2024___New_Finish_feature_-_5.png

    We can select the faces we want to apply the finish to, which will provide a calculated total surface area.

    Autodesk_Inventor_2024___New_Finish_feature_-_6.png

     Specify the type of finish from either icons…

    Autodesk_Inventor_2024___New_Finish_feature_-_7.png

    Autodesk_Inventor_2024___New_Finish_feature_-_8.png

    or a drop-down list, depending on user preference.

    Autodesk_Inventor_2024___New_Finish_feature_-_9.png

    Once a finish type has been selected, we can specify a process. Each finish type has a set of processes associated to it as well as unique text fields. These processes are presets for the text information fields in the finish tool. For my example I want to show a machined finish, but from the list of processes available I do not have machining.

    Autodesk_Inventor_2024___New_Finish_feature_-_10.png

    Instead, I can select any of the processes in the list and change the pre-defined inputs to suit my preferred process. I will select Barrel Finishing, and the Description Field and Short Description Field both populate with “Barrel Finishing” (currently there is no option to add custom processes).

    Next, we have Appearance, and this will allow us to apply a standard appearance from the appearance libraries to our Finish surfaces. This can make it easier to understand which processes have been applied to certain surfaces, or produce a final appearance, like a paint finish.

    Autodesk_Inventor_2024___New_Finish_feature_-_11.png

    The last 3 boxes are free text boxes, so we can change them to suit our design requirement.

    Autodesk_Inventor_2024___New_Finish_feature_-_12.png

    We will see the benefits from this later in the blog, but for now, let’s have a look at our final Model state. Heat Treatment.

    Autodesk_Inventor_2024___New_Finish_feature_-_13.png

    Again, looking at the icon in the model browser we can see that this is a heat treatment process and editing the finish2 feature, we can look at the inputs.

    Autodesk_Inventor_2024___New_Finish_feature_-_14.png

    For this process I selected Heat treatment and then Case Hardening from the process drop down menu. By selecting Heat Treatment, we also get inputs for the hardness and required depth for case hardening.

    Not only is the finish tool very useful for denoting each finish type and/or process in the graphical display, it also allows us to reuse the information we have applied in our 2D manufacturing drawings.

    Autodesk_Inventor_2024___New_Finish_feature_-_15.png

    By creating Model states of our separate manufacture processes and implementing the new Finish tool into our design, we can quickly and easily reuse this information in our 2D data from existing tool sets.

    When creating view in our drawings, we have the option to specify which model state we want to View.

    Autodesk_Inventor_2024___New_Finish_feature_-_16.png

    This allows us to easily show our design intents using the appearances we applied through the finish tool.

    In addition to creating easy to understand visual information, we can also reuse the text data that we created using the standard text or leader text tools.

    A new Finish Parameter Type has been added to the text tool to allow us to insert the information from the Finish tool.

    Autodesk_Inventor_2024___New_Finish_feature_-_17.png

    By creating text blocks or leader text from this information, we start to partially automate our drawing data. Meaning if/when we change the information in the Finish tool, we automatically update our drawing.

    Autodesk_Inventor_2024___New_Finish_feature_-_18.png

    Autodesk_Inventor_2024___New_Finish_feature_-_19.png

    Autodesk_Inventor_2024___New_Finish_feature_-_20.png

    Or even display all the surface treatments and finishes for your entire assembly to help understand and plan production processes.

    Autodesk_Inventor_2024___New_Finish_feature_-_21.png

    I have found the Finish tool to be very useful already, and I can see a lot of potential for simplified methods of sharing information between engineers and manufacturers.

    For more information on the new Finish tool or Autodesk products in general, please do not hesitate to talk to us here at Cadline.