The guide at the bottom will demonstrate and explain the various sketching processes and features of Autodesk Inventor. If you get stuck, or are finding it hard to understand my examples, you can hover your mouse over any icon on the top menu bar. Hovering over an icon for about 2 seconds will open an example box, with a diagram illustrating the process and an explanation of how to use the tools. Below shows a few examples of one of these boxes.
To create a new model, first open Autodesk inventor and then select 'file' on the top left-hand corner. Select 'new' and then 'new'.
This will Open a new document, where your model parts will be designed. Once selected, an interface will come up as shown to the bottom of the image to the right. This will have a selection between: English, metric and mold design. Select 'metric' then 'Standard (mm).ipt'. This will set the scale sizes of sketches and models to mm. Other metric units can be selected such as inches if the design is specific in scale. Once scale is chosen, click 'create'.
Once the correct scale is applied, the interface to the right will appear. The tools and simulation options menu bar is located at the top, and the design modifications and extrusions are located on a panel to the left-hand side. On the bottom, you will notice a small axis icon. This shows the orientation of the viewer, in relation to the model. This comes in very useful when designing parts, as it informs the user on which face the sketches are being drawn onto, and on which side a part will locate onto once imported into an assembly.
On modelling software’s such as Inventor, there are 3 main plains in which designs are drawn: XY, XZ and YZ. These are very important to consider as when designing parts, the configuration in which they are imported into an assembly depend on the oriented sketch they are drawn. The top plane tends to be the XZ plane, whilst the left face tends to be the YZ plane if it is viewed in the format shown to the left. To start a sketch on the chosen plane, select ‘start 2D sketch’ on the top left-hand corner and select the face you want to draw on.
When you hover on a face with this option, it will highlight the edges white. Once selected, the screen will look like the image to the right. If you do not at first see the orientation box, to the top right-hand corner, just drag the screen across to fix it into view. Selecting and holding down the orientation box using the left button on the mouse, will allow free rotation and view from different angles of the plane. This makes it easier to readjust view after a sketch is finished. The central yellow box indicates the centre-point of the model.
To sketch simple shapes such as squares, you can make 4 lines joined together. To make a line, select ‘sketch’ and then ‘line’ on the top menu bar. This will allow you to draw lines, starting from any point on the sketch. Select a point, and drag the line across, making sure the line is straight. For Inventor, you can draw any line by selecting a point, and dragging it along the plane with your mouse (you don’t need to hold the left button on as you draw, you only need to click once on a point).
To finish a line, you just left click again. Ideally, you can also select the length of the line, by starting at a point and dragging it to a point which makes the line straight. You then can type any length you want (for this case it was 45mm long), and press enter. To create the rest of the square, you must select the line tool and select the end of the line that was originally drawn. With Inventor, the line tool will still be selected after the line is drawn so you can continue drawing straight after. To stop drawing lines or to exit the line tool, press ‘escape’ on the keyboard and you will go back to the select function. When the line is active, and you hover over the end of a line, the end will show a green circle like the one on the image below. This signifies that the end of the line is where the next line will begin.
You may notice that by hovering above or below a line, after a perpendicular line has been connected to a parallel line, that a dotted line will appear. This signifies that the line is directly above or below, and can be joined together by ending the line there. If you end the line on the dotted line, and then close the square with a final line connected to the top end of the first line, a perfect square will be created. The measurements are shown on the exterior sides, and these can be removed by selecting them and clicking ‘delete’ on the keyboard.
To zoom in or out of the sketches you have drawn, you can use the scroll button on your mouse, where scrolling forwards zooms out and scrolling backwards zooms in.
Inventor offers diverse sketch options to increase the accuracy and quality of the parts or models that are created. Below shows the variety of different line types that can be drawn:
To draw circles with a set diameter, just select the circle tool on the top left-hand corner of the menu bar and select a centre point where you want it drawn. Left click and drag the radius out away from the centre (you can again type in the radius length, and press enter). The images to the left show an example drawing.
To draw an ark with a set length and radius, select the arc tool and select a center. Drag the line towards an outer point, with a set length ,as shown on the image to the left, as the horizontal section. As you move your pointer to a position away from the line, you will notice an ark forming. You have the option of either manually adjusting the ark to fit, or typing in a set value you want. Press enter, if you typed a length, or left click, if manually done, to finish the ark.
To draw a rectangle, start by selecting the ‘rectangle’ tool on the top left sketch menu icon. Select any starting point by left clicking and moving out the mouse to another location on the sketch. Left click again to finish the rectangle. You can again type in a set value for the height of the rectangle, and press enter to complete the rectangle.
Variations of simple sketches:
There are many more variations of the above sketches, which can be used to increase the accuracy of the final model produced on Autodesk. You may notice a small drop-down box under each icon, which if clicked, opens up the varieties of associated sketches to the primary icon. Below shows these varieties:
On the next page, we will further look into the remaining variations of sketches with an example drawing, and discover other sketch tools which will increase the accuracy of models and designs.
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