By Clint Brown
One of the often-overlooked tools in Inventor is the Sketch block (added in around the Inventor 2010 release). The functionality works in a similar manner to AutoCAD, but in Inventor you are able to do so much more.
To keep things simple, let’s break Sketch blocks down into 7 easy parts:
Part 1: Creating a sketch block
In any Sketch, you can simply click on Create Block from the Layout tab.
Then select the lines that you want to include in the new block, it’s a good idea to name the block and give it an insertion point (this will make placing it easier later). You can also give it a description. Click OK and you now have a sketch block.
Your Block will now appear in the model browser, nested under the Blocks folder.
You will also notice that the block can be moved around and rotated and that its dimensions have disappeared. Your dimensions are accessible when editing the blocks (see Part 4).
Part 2: Placing Sketch blocks
To place a sketch block into your part, you will first need to be in a sketch. Right click on the block you wish to place and select Place Block, this will place the block at the end of your cursor (on the insertion point you chose earlier), click anywhere on the sketch to place the block.
Part 3: Nesting Sketch blocks
It’s worth noting that you can nest blocks, what I mean by this, is that you can include a mix of sketch geometry and multiple blocks in your newly created blocks, this will create a nested block.
In the image below, you can see that I have created a nested block which contains a nested block (Vertical Arm, which contains Cadline Logo), as well as New Block 101.
Part 4: Editing a Sketch block
To Edit a Sketch block, simply right click on the block in the browser and select Edit Block, this can also be achieved by right clicking on the block in question.
When you finished the edit, you can click on Finish Edit Block to exit the block editor.
Part 5: Re-using Sketch blocks
One of the features of Sketch blocks is that you can re-use them between parts by copying and pasting them from one part to the next, you can even keep specific sketch blocks saved in your template files.
You do not need to be in a sketch to copy a sketch block, simply expand the Blocks folder, and then right click on the block you wish to copy and select Copy. You can now go into any part and right click and select Paste. This will create a new Blocks Folder (if one doesn’t already exist) and will place the block into this folder, as shown below. You can now place this block into your sketches, as outlined in Part 2.
Part 6: Mechanisms
At the end of Part 1 I mentioned that the dimensions would disappear when the blocks are created, you may also notice that although the geometry contained within the block is still fully constrained, the block itself is movable and can be rotated as well.
This gives you the ability to add constrains between blocks and in doing so, create mechanisms.
Part 7: Creating assemblies
Your Sketch block mechanism can now be converted into an assembly. This will allow you to create parts from the individual blocks and let you bring your mechanism to life.
To do this, click on Make Components (on the Layout Tab, under Manage). Select the blocks that you wish to include, notice that although “NEW BLOCK 101” is used several times, it is only converted into one new part.
Edit the parts in your new assembly as desired, and enjoy!