Thursday, 27 March 2014

mExtension Codify for Inventor

Today I will show you how to use the codify tool on the mExtension toolbar. This tool will allow you to set part numbers for all models and rename them along with the drawings without any loose of links in-between them.

                At any design stage you can use Codify to clean up the project sorting part numbers for all models. The project part numbers can be assigned in a structural way or plain sequential numbers.

                I can include, exclude components from the process as well as locate on disk, in the assembly or open the component.

                As you can see all the library files like Content Center Files and Purchased Parts are grayed out so we can’t modify them.
                Some of the items are show in “italics” meaning that they are reused throughout the project several times.
                Now let’s look at the part number generator. I can have a prefix and a suffix, and as you see I use a digit “d” for every sublevel component you can put “dd” for two digit, or letters or any combination so that virtually any code sequence can be generated. You can change delimiter to a “.” or a ”+” or anything you can type at the keyboard. In this current situation the manufactured products start at 100 so after matching the Header I can press apply. I have also kept the Mark Assembly box ticked so that all assemblies end in “0”, it’s something we use to make it easier to spot.

                You will notice that the label item that was reused has been codified only once with the first part number available based on it’s position in the structure.
                I have marked the Rename with Part Number so that it will rename the models and drawings once I click save.
                I will cut the video short but you can watch the clock on the lower right corner to see that it took just under 5 minutes to allocate part numbers to all models and to rename them as well as rename the drawings. I would have taken me all day to rename 90 files by hand and fix the broken links.

                As a demonstration I will use the rename tool again and take off the Mark Assemblies option to get rid of the trailing zeros at the end of the assemblies.

                Getting back to my assembly we can see that the browser nodes were renamed as well and from my project folder we will chose a random part to check the results. Open the part and then the drawing from within to verify the results. 

I got a nice neat looking folder with proper named files and I am ready to send it for manufacturing.
This concludes the presentation on Codify function on the mExtension toolbar.


And the video:


Thursday, 20 March 2014

Inventor cloning

Today I am going to show you how to use the clone tool on the mExtension toolbar. This is a really powerful function that allows you to do project variations in minutes.
One way to use the function would be to clone a part inside an assembly (that is a local cloning) and the other way would be to clone assemblies (useful for project variations).
                I will start with local cloning and show you how to change one part in an assembly wich contains multiple instances of the same part.
                Once again I have opened my assembly and I will clone and change one side wall from the stainless steel frame. The part I want to change is reused 3 times more inside the assembly and as you can see inside the working space I have a drawing for it as well. 

                Select the component you want to clone and click on clone on the mExtension toolbar. I know that the next available number is 14 so I am going to use it in the save as dialog. You could use any temporary name and then use the rename function on the mExtension toolbar. Click save and check the message window. It asks us if we want to replace the selected component with the new clone. After clicking yes the part iproperties pups-up so we can change the properties for the new clone. I will change the part number and the revision number and click ok.  

                Now let’s make a rectangular cut on the wall and return to the assembly. As you can see only the clone has the cut in while the rest remained the same. Unfortunately Inventor hasn’t updated the name for the clone in the browser so we will use the rename browser nodes from mExtension to update it.  I want the model to be shown as “Part number – Description”, so click apply and watch the change.
                Let’s open the drawing for the clone and also open the drawing of the original part to verify the changes. As you can see the drawing of the clone has an updated part number and it also has the new cut on the main view

                The second way of using the clone function will be to clone a whole subassembly and I will do it to make a project variation. I will make a new project with a bigger tank, in under a minute.

                Select the tank walls in the browser or in the graphical window along with the rest of the assemblies in the structure containing these parts and along with the main project assembly. So basically you select the components that change and all the upper structure files affected by them changing.  Use clone on the mExtension and select a new folder for the save location.  I have already created my new project folder but you can create one in the save as dialog window. After clicking apply a new window appears where you can review the files to clone and change properties for the new files.
                We can change the new file name, description and part number for the selected files and if you want others to be cloned as well you will need to mark the tick box before column name changing them from a grey out look to a normal one.

                I will do a search replace to get rid of “ Copy” at the end of each file and I will use the replace again to change project number. Do the same on part number or just copy the file name to part number.

                As you can see in my new folder I have all selected files to be cloned along with their drawings. The rest of the files are reused.

I will change my project to the newly created one and open the main assembly.  As you can see Inventor didn’t updated the browser names and I will use the “Rename Browser Nodes” on mExtension to fix this. I will use “Part number – Description” as my default browser name.

I am going to increase the height of the tank by 50 mm and then update the drawings. All I have to do is reposition the views to fit the drawing again and I am ready to go. Because the drawing is linked with the model I could have changed the dimensions from the drawing. So now I have a new product ready for fabrication in a matter of minutes.

I hope you see the power of this function and maybe you will share your best practices on it with us in a comment bellow.

And the video:


Thursday, 13 March 2014

Rename some more

                Rename function on the mExtension toolbar again. I know we had a short preview on the function in the past but now we are going to discuss other features. Not going to emphasize again on the utility of it, the time and money it saved me and will try and plunge right in.
                On short description the function will rename all files without loose of links between assembly, parts, and drawing. Just think of how tedious this would have been to do it by hand.
                I have once again open my assembly and clicked on the Rename button on the mExtension toolbar.

                A short description of the function appears and after clicking next a list of all models is being displayed.  In this list I can add any iPropertie (custom or not) to the list via right click on any column and selecting column chooser. I have a custom iPropertie called Project Quantity that I can add but for now let’s add Project to the list

If you right click on any of the items you can , locate on disk, locate in the assembly, open, as well as refresh the list or change it from regular list to assembly tree type.

The items in grey are library files and they cannot be edited from within the project. If you want to by-pass this security issue than you need to open the assembly from within a project that doesn’t have them as library. You can use the “default.ipj” project that comes with Inventor.
Let’s clean the list and put a filter on the file path and keep just the files that are inside my “Inventor Drawings” folder. 

Sorting by part number revealed that I have two components with same name and part number “Plate”. One is in the electric panel folder and the other in the root of my workspace.

I will rename one of the components from “Plate” to “Long plate” and hit apply. Two files were renamed (the model and the drawing) and two properties are modified (Part number and Description).

I will update the project number on the parts with missing value. Select all cells that need updating, right click on the column name and choose “Update multiple values”. Set in the desired value and click apply.

Let’s do a “replace value” on the files containing “wall” and change it to “plate”. It is case sensitive so it will replace just lower case.

As with any window of the mExtension you can copy the contents to clipboard and paste it to word, excel or any other program for advanced reports and data manipulation.
Looking in my “El Panel” folder I can see that the program changed the name of the model “Plate” to “Long Plate” and changed the name of the drawing as well. If we open the drawing we can see that it’s still linked with the model and it will be linked with the assembly as well.
This concluded my presentation on rename function.


And of course the video:

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Invent project/assembly verification tool

Today I am going to show you how to use the project/assembly verification tool on the mExtension toolbar.

                This will help you check your project or assembly for consistency and will help you clean it up before completion. If you use vault or some sort enterprise resource planning and management software to keep your files than you will love this tool.
                The Project Verification tool will check the integrity of the project while the assembly tool will just work against a selected assembly.
                I have opened my main assembly ad selected the Project Verification on the mExtension toolbar. A window with multiple tabs will appear and we will discuss each and every in detail.
                The first tab is the “Duplicate file names” and it shows you all the files with same name on the project folder. As you can see I have two sets of duplicates one wit name ”Plate” and one with name “RRB-M6-2-StSt”. When we expand plate we see that I have a file “Plate.ipt” in the main folder and one with same name in “El Panel” folder.

                With all of the results I can Open, Locate on disk, Locate in assembly. Let’s locate them in the assembly and make sure they are not the same, or that one can’t be used in both places. One is under the motor and the other is a lid hinge plate.

                The next set of duplicate file names are actually one and same but for the purposes of this demonstration I’ve placed one as standard from content center and another as custom on the working folder just to get more results on the project verification.
                Next tab is the Duplicate part numbers. I have 3 sets of duplicates, Plate, RRB-M6-2-StSt and Tray Retainers. Because I haven’t used the Codify tool on the mExtension toolbar to automate part number assignment, the models appear as created with default part number as description.

                Next tab is the unreferenced files and in here you will have all models that are not used in the main assembly (not called for). It is important that you use the project verification tool from within the main assembly. We can delete it, open or locate on disk, and because it was placed solely for the purpose of this demo I will delete it.

                Lost references are in the next tab and this will show you any models with missing references. As you can see I have a drawing “Short Plate.idw” that is looking for a model “Short Plate.ipt”. Because I renamed the model without using the rename function on the mExtension toolbar the drawing lost reference with it’s model. Let’s use the “locate on disk” on the drawing to see if we can find the missing model. The missing model was renamed “Plate.ipt” and we need to open the drawing and point to the new part to fix it’s missing reference.

                The next tab, “Unknown file locations” will show you all files that are outside of the project search paths; not in workspace or in the libraries. These files will not be found next time you open the assembly.  However you can use the “Resolve references” to fix them next time you open the assembly.

                Local materials tab will show you all materials used in the project. This is a good list to review, for you can change materials from say “bronze” to “PTFE” or similar in order to keep the price of the project down.

                The empty folders list will show you all the empty folders in the project with the option to delete them from within this window.
                Other files tab will show you what other files you have in the project that you might want to delete in order to keep the project clean. I have a pdf file for an “isolator” that I needed to model and forgot to remove it from my project. I will use the delete option to clean it up.

                The standards list will show you all the standard Content Center components used in the project. This is useful if you want to keep your purchase list down. For example I have used M5x10 and M5x20 hex head bolt and I want to see if I can use just one of them. Let’s locate them in the assembly and see if one will fit the other. The M5x10 is used on the gas strut plate and I can’t make it 20 long because it will stick out to much. The M5x20 is used on the motor plate and I can’t make it smaller because it won’t reach the nut.

                Let’s try the assembly verification tool now. It is useful when you want to release for fabrication just part of the project and you want to check it’s integrity.

                Pretty much the same tabs, “Duplicate file names”, “Duplicate part numbers”, “Lost references”, “Unknown file location”, “Local materials”, Standard, but it also contains a different tab called “Cost estimation”.
                This list will show you weights and prices for components in order to estimate execution costs. On all columns you can apply filter, sort, as well as operations as Sum, Min, Max, Count, and Average. You can copy paste straight in excel or any other program via clipboard.

                This concludes my presentation on the mExtension toolbar Project/Assembly verification tool.


And the video :