So we have successfully navigated the sketch environment and are ready to start the fun 3D stuff. So what has Autodesk got in store for us?

I am going to look at the 2 improvements that I find fascinating.

  • Sweep with a twist
  • Freeform modelling

Sweep With A Twist:

As per usual draw your profiles and path line.

Draw Inventor Profiles and Path Lines

Activate the sweep command and notice the new twist function.

Inventor Sweep Command

Now without putting any value in the twist field you get ye’ ol’ boring boring.

Inventor Twist Field Value

But if you put a value in (I typed in 1020) you receive a lovely present after you press OK.

Inventor 2015 Sweep Command - Twist Function

So much more colour…. And of course a twist 🙂


Next up – Freeform Modelling:

Autodesk introduced freeform modelling in 2015. It is based on a software package T-splines that they acquired.

To access the new functionality you can go to the 3D model tab and you will notice a new panel called Freeform.

Inventor 2015 Freeform Modelling

This is where we will start with some freeform primitives which consist of the following:

  • Box
  • Cylinder
  • Sphere
  • Torus
  • Quadball

Freeform Primitives in Inventor

I am going to have a quick look at the box primitive and see how we can quickly and easily manipulate it using the tools provided to make something that resembles a camera.

Open a new Standard.ipt.

When it opens, click on the Box icon under the freeform panel.

Inventor Box Freeform

To place the box select one of the 3 work planes that are visible on the screen and then select the centre point.

Placing a Freeform Box on Inventor Work Plane Placing a Freeform Box

For the settings choose the following.

Length = 100 | Faces = 5
Width = 50 | Faces = 3
Heigth = 30 | Faces = 3

Inventor Freeform Box Settings

Click on OK to generate the box.

We are now going to edit the shape using the freeform edit tools.

Click on the toggle smoothness button.

Toggle Smoothness Button

With the block having sharp edges the model performance will be quicker.

Sharp Edge Block in Inventor

Select the edit form button and let’s get our free form on!!

Editing Inventor Freeform

Under selection you have a few options. You can select a point, a line, face, select all and select a body. You can have more than one primitive in a freeform shape so that’s why that option is there.

I am going to select “face” and, using the control key, I am going to select a few faces and raise the top of the block.

If you grab the top arrow and pull it up it will move those 3 faces up with it. You can specify exactly how high you want it to be.

Freeform Selection Options

I used a value of 15mm. So our little camera is taking shape.

Freeform Selection Values

The nice thing about free form modelling is that it works very well with the normal functionality of Inventor.

Right click and select Finish Freeform. This takes you back into the normal Inventor solid and surface modelling workflow.

Inventor Solid and Surface Modelling Workflow

After exiting the freeform workflow, the model turns grey and you see some nice aesthetic curves for our camera.

Inventor Model Curves

Let’s create the flash. I like the old school flash that you found on those old box Polaroids. So using normal sketch and extrude I created the following.

Sketch and Extrude

Looking at the flash I notice it is cutting into the body of the camera. Traditionally we would now go either into the sketch or the extrusion (depends on how you created the shape) and manipulate the figures there, but Inventor also has a very nice direct manipulation tool.

Manipulation Tools in Inventor

So I am going to control the shape of this by directly manipulating the faces and pushing and pulling them until I get the shape that I want.

Manipulating Shapes

I have 4 options here:

  • Move
  • Size
  • Rotate
  • Delete

I have “move” selected and I am going to grab the orange arrow which will then move the face along that axis.

Some material selection and I now have a very nice curvy camera body with some old school rigidness which was very quick and easy to do with freeform and direct manipulation.

Freeform and Direct Manipulation

You will also have noticed I was able to fillet between the freeform entity and a normal extrusion, making this a very nice and easy way to get aesthetic and practical design in one workflow.

If we look at the freeform software that Autodesk acquired you will notice they limited the functionality that is available from the full package in this version. I am waiting in anticipation as they will probably incorporate the rest of the functionality in future versions of Inventor which will make this a truly powerful modeller.

Regards,
Aldred