Basics of 3D modelling
To make your 2D sketches form into 3D components, you have to use a new set of tools for a process called extrusion. Extrusion is a process which forms a 2D sketch into a set height object, which becomes an independent component from the base of a sketch. These 3D objects can be modified using tools from the ‘3D model’ menu as shown below:
In this 3D modelling guide, we will cover the basics of extruding and forming 3D component from a starting sketch, with explanations and step by step examples of each tool. Below, we will begin with the create guide.
In this guide, we will cover all the tools available on Inventor for creating the initial raw component from a starting sketch, with step by step explanations and examples.
To extrude an object from a base sketch (such as a rectangle as shown on the image to the left) select the ‘extrude’ tool from the create menu and left click on the rectangle. The interface on the far-left image will pop up. Either type in a specific height value, or left click on the orange arrow and hold it down and drag it to another point. Once you are happy with the height of the extrusion, click on the ‘ok’ button on the options menu. This will create the 3D shape with a rectangular base.
When extruding an object, on the options menu you will notice a set of options for the direction of the extrusion. The first on the far left will extrude in one direction, where the next option extrudes the shape in the opposite direction. The third option will extrude in both directions with the same height and the final option (with one red arrow), will extrude asymmetrically. You will be able to choose each individual height on both sides by typing in a value in each height option box.
When sketches have multiple areas where extrusions can be formed, if you select the extrusion tool, the lines of the sketch will highlight dark green. Hovering over the gap between the lines will highlight the extrudable area in a light grey shade. If you select a hovering point with the extrude tool, the extrusion options menu will pop up. This gives you the freedom to choose which part of the sketch you want to extrude into a solid object, and which parts you want to leave alone.
Selecting the ‘cancel’ option from the options menu will exit the extrusion tool, and return you back to your sketch.
To extrude an object, which you want to have revolved, select the ‘revolve’ option from the create menu. The component you want revolved, if it’s just one on the sketch will automatically be highlighted. Select a side you want to be the midpoint of the revolution and the object will revolve 360˚. If you are happy with this angle of revolution, click ‘ok’. If you want it revolved at a set angle, click on the drop-down box in ‘Extents’, select angle and type in an angle of your choice. Once you are happy with the angle, click ‘ok’ and the shape will be revolved.
If your component consists of a main framework, and you want to revolve a shape around the component or have it stop at a face (as with the component on the image to the left), you can use the same method. This time instead of typing in an angle, select the ‘Extents’ drop-down box then select the back face of the frame as shown on the image to the left. This will revolve the shape to the face of the main component.
To sweep an object from a main starting point, select the ‘sweep’ tool from the create menu and select a face to sweep. To make this work, a path line should be sketched from either one corner of the sketch, or nearby with the direction of the sweep. The path line ideally should be done on a perpendicular sketch to the starting sketch. Once ‘sweep’ is selected, the object’s face which is available for sweep will be highlighted. Select the path line and press ‘ok’. This will sweep out an area as shown on the image above.
To create a lofted area from one face to another, select the ‘loft’ from the create menu. Select a starting face’s edge then select the next face’s edge to create the loft outline. When you are happy with the loft outline, press ‘ok’ on the options menu to create a loft. Again, it’s ideal that the two faces are on separate planes, to make sure the loft can have the full effect. The starting face or ending face can have any dimensions you like, where it will form a loft with a changing cross-sectional area between the two faces.
To make a coil from a circle sketch and a line segment, select the ‘coil’ tool from the create options menu. The circle should automatically be highlighted. select the ‘Axis’ option and choose the button with the red arrow. Left click on the line segment and select the ‘Axis’ tool again to choose the orientation of the coil. Once selected, go to the ‘Coil size’ options menu on the top left then type in the parameters of your coil.
Once you typed in your values for the coil and are happy with the result, select ‘Ok’ to finish. On the image to the left, you can see the variation in the angle of the coil’s cross section, by altering the ‘taper’ values to suit a specific size. You can also choose the number of revolutions the coil has, including the maximum height the coil reaches and the thickness of the coil.
For this to work, start by sketching a rectangle on top of the solid object and then select the ‘Text’ tool from the sketches tools. Left click inside the rectangle and type in anything you want to engrave on the object. Click ok then select ‘Emboss’. Left click on the text then select ‘engrave’ or ‘emboss’. Next choose the direction you want the text to be engraved/embossed through. Type in a specified depth into the ‘Depth’ select option. Finally click ‘ok’ to engrave/emboss the object’s surface.
To create a rib section from an initial rib sketch, simply select the ‘rib’ tool from the sketches menu and left click on the sketch. The interface on the left image will appear. Select the direction you want the rib section to face by clicking on the direction tools beneath ‘thickness’. Type in the thickness you want the rib to be then go to ‘draft’. Type in the angle you want the rib to extend by as it goes from the starting point to the nearest face then go to ‘boss’. From the boss tools, you can select The draft angle, offset and diameter of the rib section. You can experiment with the values to see what suits you then click ‘ok’ when you are happy with the result.
To print on an image onto an object, simply select the ‘decal’ tool from the create menu and left click on an image. You can import an image by selecting a face to sketch, going into sketches and selecting the ‘image’ tool in insert. Insert a saved image and then select ‘decal’. Once selected, left click on the face you want to print the image onto then click ‘ok’. This will print the image onto the face, wherever it is straight or distorted.
There are two bonus tools available for Inventor from the create tools, which are Derive and Import. The derive tool locates a similar component from an options library then imports it into the 3D model sketch. Once imported, it can be adjusted to shape or add onto a piece you have modelled to make sure it has the same design or structure. Below is a fully detailed guide into the derive tool and how it works:
Import is another tool, similar to derive which can be used to import downloaded or saved files into a sketch. A file from a separate part can be imported into the 3D model sketch and added to the component you are working on, using the same tools shown above. Below is a more comprehensive guide onto how to effectively use this tool:
Modify tools are a set of extrusion tools which allow you to mill holes, adjust pieces at angles and adjust the edges of solid objects to make them smoother. Below will be a guide of how to use each tool, with explanations and examples to show you how they work.
To mill a hole through an object without the need for an initial sketch, start by selecting the ‘hole’ tool from the modify menu. Select a face to drill the hole then type in the diameter of the hole into the box as shown on the image to the left. If it is a component with multiple parts, you can select the direction and angle of the hole using the tools on the bottom menu. This tool can also be used with two reference points in the form of sketches on either side of the component, by selecting the ‘reference point’ tools on the left-hand side of the menu. Once you are happy with the hole location and size, click ‘ok’ to finish.
To fillet an edge on an object, select the ‘fillet’ tool from the modify menu then left click on the edges you want to fillet. Type in a value for the radius or the fillet in mm, as shown on the image to the left. Once you are happy with the fillet dimension, click ‘ok’ to finish. If you want a fillet, with a varying radius, you can select the ‘Variable’ option on the top menu then typing in the starting and ending values, or manually scaling them by moving the orange arrow up or down.
To chamfer a corner on an object, select the ‘chamfer’ tool from the modify options menu then left click on the corners you want to chamfer. If you want the chamfer to be even throughout, just type in the chamfer value into the box on the right of the menu then click ‘ok’. If you want to chamfer at an angle, click on the second box from the left-hand side, menu then type in the angle you want it to chamfer with, as shown on the image above. The third box on the left-hand side menu allows you to chamfer using two distances. Type in the distances then click ‘ok’ when you are happy with the result.
To shell out an area inside an object, simply select the ‘shell’ tool from the modify options menu. The interface on the image to the left will appear. Type in the thick ness of the shell you want then click ‘ok’ to finish. To fillet in the opposite direction, select the second box on the left-hand side of the options box. If you want to shell in both directions simultaneously, select the third box on the left-hand side then click ‘ok’ to finish.
To draft a face on an object, select the ‘draft’ tool from the modify options menu then select a face to act as an anchor point. Next, select the face which will be drafted at an angle then type in the angle value into the ‘Draft angle’ box. Once you are happy with the angle, click ‘ok’ to finish. If you want to draft from two opposite ends simultaneously, select the last box on the left-hand options menu then select two opposite faces. Type in the draft angle then click ‘ok’ to finish.
To create a thread through or outside a circular object, select the ‘thread’ tool from the modify options menu then left click on the interior or exterior face. Next, select ‘specification’ then click on the drop-down boxes on each option, to refine the thread to your specification. Once you are happy with the dimensions of the thread, click ‘ok’ to finish.
To thicken an object, select the ‘thicken/offset’ tool from the modify options menu, then select a face to thicken. Once selected, type in the value by how much you want the object to be thickened by in the ‘Distance’ box then click ‘ok’ to finish. This can be done in any direction by selecting the direction boxes below the ‘Dimensions’ box.
To split an object into two separate entities, simply select the ‘split’ tool from the modify options menu. In order for this to work, a sketch of a line which acts as the cut-off point must be drawn on a face beforehand. Left click on the line then select the first box under ‘Faces’. Next select the object and a red line, with a blue starting line will appear. Click ‘ok’ and the object will be cut into two separate entities.
If you select the drop-down arrow on the ‘modify’ menu, 3 more options will appear. These are: move bodies, bend part and copy object. Below will be a guide on how to use each one, with examples and explanations.
(17) Move bodies:
To move an object to another spot on a model, select the ‘move bodies’ tool from the modify dropdown list then left click the object you want to move. Move your mouse to the location you want your object to be moved to then click ‘ok’. If you are very specific about the exact location you want the object to be moved to, type in an exact coordinate into the options box on the left then click ‘ok’.
(18) Bend part:
To bend an object about an axis, start by selecting the ‘bend part’ tool from the modify dropdown box. For this to work, an axis line has to be drawn onto one of the faces which will be in perpendicular to the ending angle. Select the axis line then type in the values for the bend angle and radius. You can also select the direction of the bend to suit the component dimensions you want to achieve. Once you are happy with the dimensions and parameters, click ‘ok’ to finish.
(19) Copy object:
To copy an object and make a duplicate, simply select the ‘copy object’ tool from the modify drop down menu then select the object to copy. Once selected, click ‘ok’ then select the ‘move bodies’ tool. Select the object then move the copy to one side. The object is now copied.
The final part of the 3D modelling guide will cover the 4 pattern tools, being: rectangular, circular, sketch and mirror. Below will be a guide on how to use each one, with explanations and images to show the process.
To make a rectangular pattern of an object, start by selecting the ‘rectangular pattern’ tool from the pattern option menu then selecting the object. Once selected, click on the arrow option from ‘Direction 1’ then typing in the values you want in the same way as with the sketches version, typing in the spacing and number of copies. Do the same for ‘Direction 2’ then click ‘ok’ once you are happy with the result.
To create a circular pattern of an object using an axis point, select the ‘circular pattern’ tool from the pattern options menu then select the object you want to create a pattern for. Type in the values for ‘Placement’ including the angle of pattern and the number of copies. Select the ‘rotation axis’ arrow then select an axis point (in my case I just used the corner but you can sketch an axis then select that as an axis). Once you are happy with the pattern produced, click ‘ok’ to finish.
To mirror an image over a plane, select the ‘mirror’ tool from the pattern options menu then select an object you want to mirror. If already drawn, select the ‘mirror line’ tool from the menu then select an axis line to use as a mirror, for mine I just used the corner. Once the mirrored image is visible, and you are happy with the outcome, click ‘ok’ to finish.
A sketch driven Is a tool in patterns, which allows you to duplicate an object across to multiple points on a sketch. Personally, I don’t use this tool, instead using a variation of extrusions then copying and pasting them to save time. Below will be a guide on how to efficiently use the ‘sketch’ tool:
This is the end of the 3D modelling guide. I hope you found the information in this guide informative, and has helped you develop your 3D modelling skills. The next guide will be available in the 29/11/2017 update, which will guide you through annotations and assemblies.
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