Thursday 28 January 2016

Publishing Dumb Parts

This is last part of the series, covering how to publish dumb parts to Content Center. Now you know where to get parts on the internet, how to create work features, and how to author empty parts. This is all neded info before we take the final step.

                Quite simply publishing dumb parts as a family in content center is based on the ability to create iparts with suppressed bodies (will expand later).
Downloaded parts can stay dumb, we'll make them smart.
                As you probably know if you follow this blog when I download parts from the internet I don’t publish them to content center but I keep them in a library folder and the document properties are saved in a text file. When I need to place a certain valve I copy the file path from the text document, and I paste it in the place fitting dialog window to speed up my navigation time. Content center seems slow as it is and I don't want to overload it with individual parts.

                While placing from disk is faster than placing from content center (it is for me) there is another limitation that we can’t overcome. Insert fittings only seems to work with content center items, parametric or dumb all the same. If you don’t know what I just said I suggest you get familiar with my blog on inserting fittings here.

Placing fittings will insert nodes on the route which breaks constraints and remove dimensions. A better way would be to place the main fitting say a valve and insert the rest of the fittings before and after, like reducers, unions, etc. This way you only need to control the position of one node on the route and the sketch remains fully constrained. Insert fittings only works with content center items and to overcome this you would first need to place a CC item and then drop your library item (located on disk) over that CC item. These are way to many steps, so for this we will publish them to CC as a family.

I am going to use a Georg Fischer valve set as an example.
TIP: You can download the whole Georg Fischer cad files as zipped packages split by material type, ABS, PVC-U, PVDF, etc.

Georg Fischer metering valve as example.
I needed a metering Valve so, to replicate my case,  after locating the stp files start a new assembly in Inventor. Drag the step files inside the graphical window of the new assembly. If the files are computer generated then the origin will match for every single one of them even though when they are dropped in the assembly they will be automatically positioned at certain distance from one another. You need to position them on a common origin, and even better to the origin of the assembly. Use the Assemble tab, Productivity pane, Ground and Root Component command to fix them at the origin really quick. As you can see in the screenshot I have GR as my speed key and that helps a lot.

TIP: The files will be imported as per the last Options you chose for this particular foreign file extension. If they are being imported as composite surfaces rather than parts with bodies read down towards the end how to change the import options.
Use Ground and Root Component to fix them at origin.
This is a perfect example because with 2 models we are going to cover 4 members in content center. Because the models are the same there is no point getting all 4 stp files and only 2 will do. The other 2 models are identical having different part number due to different gasket materials.

If the models had a common origin you should see them overlapping just like on my section in the image bellow. If not you will have to constrain them to a common origin, and then to the assembly origin.
Locate imports on a common assembly origin.
The next step is to get this assembly as a single multi-body part because for now it’s only parts that can be authored as T&P and parts only that can be published to CC. Derive and Shwrinkwrap didn’t worked in all my tests because the bodies were not coming in as suppressible features. Save the assembly as “stp” because “sat” for all my tests looses the color of the bodies and I don’t want to fix appearances as well. Click open and browse to the new stp. location.  You might need to change the file extension filter to Step or Any (*) and select your file. Click Options next to Open and then make sure you choose Solids, Assembly as Single Part and Multiple Solid Part. This will allow you to suppress the bodies unlike doing a shrinkwrap or derive.
Shrinkwrap or Derive didn't worked for me.
Use the Options button before Opening the document.
TIP: If you don't get solid bodies on your imports you can play with stitch, sculpt, combine, and get solids out of surface bodies, but we do need bodies for the suppress command.
In the part environment use Parameters and add two parameters, z and L (my case) which will be your connection distance and engagement distance. For butt weld you don’t need an engagement distance. Just like in authoring empty parts we will create work points for our connection reference using work planes located at L/2 on each side and the inline origin axis. As you can see the catalog has no dimensions for z but I have measured the models and added the value to the table.
Missing dimensions can be measured on imported models.

Create connection points using parameters.
Before you click the create ipart button I suggest you rename the bodies in the browser because they will be hard to identify on the ipart table. Here’s my example, and remember that a single body will serve 2 family members. If you don’t do this, in the ipart table you will see “body1”, “body2”, etc. which is hard to locate.
Rename bodies to make easier to identify in the ipart table.
Once finished adding the ipart table info test the model by switching between ipart members and see if the model updates. I have an excel spreadsheet as template for Georg Fischer families and once I’ve clicked on create ipart, I close the table without edits and I open it in excel where it's easier to paste the data from my template which covers, material, description, DN, part number, etc.. and even cost and stock info.
Test your model by switching between components.
Author the ipart as Tube and Pipe component using the connection points created and the “To Plane / Point” option choosing the engagement planes.
Author and publish your part to Content Center
Once you publish this to Content Center you have access to Change Size command but most important the Insert Fitting command.
Insert Fitting is working for CC items.

Keep in mind that adding all these bodies will increase the size of the file a lot and for simple parts you are better off to model it rather than adding them as suppressed bodies which can be a bit of overkill.

Hope you are still with me; I will do a video for this might seem too much to some of you.

For your convenience I have attached the files in a zip document so grab it here and start playing with it.

How do you like my next car?


photo credit: stay dumb! glue pinella & DSCF2330 (license)

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