By Clint Brown
Autodesk Inventor is not just a brilliant 3D modelling package, it also contains many productivity tools to help your company to design, visualise and simulate your products virtually.
Benefits of the simulation tools in Inventor:
The Simulation tools in Inventor include a comprehensive FEA package that can run stress analysis and Modal analysis on your parts and assemblies, helping in upfront engineering decisions.
Recent updates to the Simulation environment include the ability to run topology optimisations, this is known as the Shape Generator. The Shape Generator allows designers to remove unnecessary mass from a component by specifying a percentage of mass to remove, or a goal mass. Once the settings are defined, loads are added and important geometric features (such as mountings) are set to be preserved. The software then analyses the design based on thee inputs and generates and optimised mesh of the best design.
There are 2 unsung heroes in the simulation tools within Inventor, the first is the Frame Analysis tool, Frames created using the frame generator are easily tested using the Frame Analysis tool, this is a very fast way to apply loads to your frame design and to get quick feedback on the design.
The second unsung hero in the Simulation portfolio, is the "Mold Design Environment" which is often overlooked because of its name. This tool is designed to create full injection mould designs and contains a full library of injection mould components. Without going into all of the detail of actually designing an injection mould, a designer can analyse a component for injection moulding suitability, and look at things like whether the component is actually mould-able and where the best place to put he gates is. Moving on from there, you can compare how different materials will be have and even get an indication of processing time, leading to better costings.
Inventor Design Accelerators
Inventor comes with a plethora of Design Accelerators out of the box. These tools are all standards based and are designed to speed up the design, and more importantly the decision making of the designer. By giving designers access to standard components and a "Wizard" type interface, designers can quickly and efficiently size, test and specify bolts, frame members, gears, welds and many more. The image below shows most of the menu's expanded, to give an idea as to all of the tools available.
Productivity Gains with iLogic
Inventor has a built in coding utility called iLogic. This environment allows users to write their own code to automate processes, or speed up repetitive tasks. iLogic uses a simple programming language (similar to VB) that is easy to learn, Inventor comes packed with example code, and we have written over 130 articles on the subject (Search iLogic above for more!). We can even assist with bespoke development if you have a specific requirement.
In summary, Inventor is more than a just a modelling package, it a "toolbox" filled with lots of useful utilities, helping you design and validate better products.