DEVELOP3D Live 2015

For those of you who are reading this and also live on this side of the Atlantic in the good ole’ USA you’re probably like me and don’t give much though to what is going on abroad. We spend our 40 hour+ week, 8 hours a day with our nose to the grindstone creating CAD models, making drawings or making widgets on our 3D printers. Every November we pack up our bags and head to Las Vegas for the CAD nerd mecca we call Autodesk University. Autodesk crams in a weeks worth of classes, fancy presentations and so much information it leaves our head spinning well into January. By springtime we’re already thinking about the next trip to Vegas and starting to plan ahead for it.

Well, why wait until November to absorb all that CAD nerd goodness when DEVELOP3D Live is right around the corner in March. Whoa you say… what is this DEVELOP3D Live I speak of? This year It’s March 26, 2015 in Warwick, England. Now before you stop reading and flip back to the YouTube video of the guy talking like Karl from Slingblade at a Starbucks drive-thru just because I said it was in England… hear me out.

The one day conference is free and with a round trip airline ticket costing around $1,500, it’s quite a reasonable jaunt across the ocean to take in how the other half does things with a nice vacation in the folds as well.

DEVELOP3D LIVE 2015 will feature four conference streams, covering all bases of product development technology – from 3D modelling, design visualisation and simulation to 3D printing, manufacturing and workstations.

The conference also hosts a packed product showcase full of over 60 exhibitors such as AMD, Autodesk, Delcam, Dell, FlowHD, HP, Luxion, Siemens PLM and Solidworks.

This year DEVELOP3D Live will have an abundance of impressive speakers such as Carl Bass, CEO of Autodesk. Jon Hirschtick, CEO of OnShape and founder of Solidworks. Kevin Schneider, Sr. Product Line Manager for Emerging Products and Technology at Autodesk, and many others.

I have attended all d3d events for the past three years. I find it one of the best independent events in the industry.

– Kevin Schneik, Director of Product Management For Fusion 360 at Autodesk. (@schneik80)

What else do you need to know? Ask them yourself on Twitter at @DEVELOP3DLive. Remember… registration is free.

Not convinced yet? (Gosh, you’re a hard sell.) Check out some of the videos from past DEVELOP3D Live events. I’ll even save you a click… you can watch one right here. Enjoy!

If Carl Bass isn’t enough to convince you… then watch Al Dean, Editor-in-Chief of DEVELOP3D Magazine convince you.


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Free Autodesk Software for Education

Today at Autodesk University’s keynote address, it was announced that Autodesk will be giving away all of its software for free to teachers, students and now educational institutions themselves.

Autodesk is committed to invest in the next generation and to help them on their journey to imagine, design, and create a better world. Students, educators, and academic institutions worldwide have free* access to Autodesk software—the same tools used by millions in industry today. We’re enabling future makers, engineers, and designers to move their ideas into reality, and helping to prepare students for jobs with free software. We can’t wait to see how they solve real-world design challenges.

What does this mean? This means that the clunky but cheap CAD software you learned how to design with back in school that you found out later in the real world is a not used at all is now a thing of the past. There now is no reason your school can’t be outfitted with the latest and greatest Autodesk software for absolutely no cost. This applies to any educational institution world wide.

This is an obvious win for schools, teachers and students but it’s also a smart move for Autodesk. Small schools with tight budgets can now be equipped with some of the best design software in the industry. Developing countries looking to populate minds with bright ideas can do so without resorting to software piracy.

This shift in thinking is also quite refreshing from the perspective of turning away from the corporate drive for instant gratification and focus on quarterly profit margins with an increased importance on long term business sustainability. When other CAD applications are the preferred software over an Autodesk product, this is sometimes just a result of an “it’s always been that way” attitude and not necessarily because one software is better than the other. With Autodesk products being free and in the hands of students, those students eventually get unleashed into the real world and can influence which products may be used at their company or even what gets used at their very own startup. It just makes good business sense to form that special bond between man and software, early.

Now the task lies on the educational institutions of the world to capitalize on this benefit and empower their students to use some really great tools. Time to put away the shareware CAD you’re all using to teach with now.



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Don’t take Inventor for granted

If you are on Twitter you may recognize the hashtag #FirstWorldProblems referring to frustrations and complaints that are only experienced by privileged individuals in wealthy countries, typically used to make light of trivial inconveniences.

If you are an Autodesk Inventor user, you may be able to identify with this similar hashtag… #FirstWorldCADProblems. I thought I might have been the 1st to use the hashtag, but apparently not.

What I’m really referring to are the features within Inventor that make your life easy and that you may take for granted. This came up to light today when a friend of mine emailed me his latest PTC Creo gripe. He’s trying to change the bill of materials (parts list) on a drawing for a glue item to “A/R” meaning “as required”.

His email to me:

Trying to change a bom from qty 1 to a/r for glue. I have not fixed it yet but found this link and read it shaking my head soo much my neck hurts.
As i remember… Inventor you click the bom and type A/R right?

This is giving me grey hair.

So I click on the link and read this “fantastically easy way” to customize an item quantity in a bill of materials:


Thanks for the link. I’ve read through it, and I now have a BOM that properly reflects what I want! AR shown in the BOM’s quantity column for my bulk item.

I may have overstated some details for doing this…

The way I put AR in the quantity column is to change the report symbol in the repeat region for the column from rpt.qty to rpt.rel.User Defined, then enter “quantity” (without quotation marks) in the Symbol Text window that pops up.

Then enter/create a repeat region relation in the Relations editor pop up window for the repeat region (mouse picks: Repeat Region, Relations, select/digitize BOM repeat region):


IF asm_mbr_type == “BULK ITEM”

quantity = “AR”


quantity = rpt_qty


After hitting the OK button on the Relations editor window to close it, toggle the Switch Symbols button. If all goes well, AR will now be in the quantity column for the Bulk Item(s) in your assembly.

You need to use the Bulk Item template by creating a part within the assembly and selecting the Bulk Item template.

Thanks again!


After reading all that, all I can say is “what in the what???” Marty sure does know his stuff when it comes to PTC Creo.

Although, not as ideal as one would really want… in Inventor you can simply edit a drawing parts list qty field by typing in “A/R” over the default quantity value. Now if you could do this sort of thing within the assembly model and add bulk items like glue, my life really would be much easier than it is now and I could go on living in peace an harmony.

So with that… if you have any first world CAD problems you want to share, please Tweet with the hashtag #FirstWorldCADProblems or use it on Facebook or Google+. You can also post a comment to this blog post.

Also, if you have a better way to handle bulk items in Inventor… please let me know. I’m “starving” for more information and am desperate for help! *snicker*




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Inventor Foundations: Basics of Sketching & Modeling

[important]Inventor Foundations is a new series of posts highlighting some key aspects of Inventor and solid modeling.[/important] When talking about how to create a models initial sketch within Inventor, my old coworkers and I used to always say “It’s all just circles and squares.” While this isn’t always necessarily true, it does guide you to a simplistic way of thinking when starting a sketch for a new CAD model. Limiting the features to only those required to define the outer extents of your finished part is a best practice method for creating any new CAD model.
Within any 3D CAD application, there is always a right way, a wrong way and a big gray area on how to model a part. A good part starts with a good base sketch. If you don’t get the first sketch right, your model integrity will suffer as you add and subtract subsequent features. Some of the points I want to share may be subjective, so I would love to hear feedback and comments if you agree or disagree. Here’s an example of a good gray area. I watched this sketching video posted by Autodesk and really didn’t like a few things they are showing. Not because it’s wrong… but it’s not completely right either. You’ll see later in this post what I mean by this.

Thanks to Luis José Andueza (@ljandueza), Paul Munford (@CadSetterOut), Francisco García Bayarri (@cadmech3d), Scott Moyse (@ScottMoyse from and Chris Benner (@CGBenner) for being my guinea pigs in a little experiment in the modeling gray area I mentiond earlier. I asked them to all model the same part without giving them too much direction other than to use Inventor and the part units were millimeters. This is the image I posted for them to model, a simple bearing mount:
Model ThisFrom a quick glance at the results, most of the parts look the same which is good. As I suspected, some of them had their own style flare and applied realistic colors. This isn’t a requirement for modeling but can make your time using Inventor more enjoyable and your models look more realistic. I’m thankful nobody used the shiny chrome finish. I’m not sure why but it seems like most new users to Inventor are fascinated with making every part as shiny as possible.  I also found it interesting that 3 of the 5 models were modeled with the Y axis being the vertical and 2 with the Z axis being vertical. This may seem like an insignificant difference but can sometimes have detrimental effects when exporting your parts to other software applications.

Bearing Housing Results

When we start digging deeper into the models and examining the model trees, this is where the real differences start to show. While all the parts started with the base, and generally followed the same steps to arrive at the finished model, there are some definitely unique characteristics of each.
You can see basically how the models were built by clicking through the images below:

Step 1

Picture 1 of 6

Comparing the model trees is also interesting. You can see big differences in how it was modeled by the use of shared sketches, how the features were named and how many steps it took to create the geometry.

Part Tree - Luis José Andueza

Picture 1 of 5

Most of the differences in modeling technique you’ll see between different designers at different companies without the same set of standards will still be negligible. Like I mentioned before, there is a right way, a wrong way and just a big gray area on how to model a part properly. The basic principles that I follow when modeling a part are:
  • Is the part accurately modeled to the design requirements?
This point is just making sure you added the right size holes, the fillets in the right spot and generally designed the part as it should be designed.
  •  Does the model use the key dimensional values required to drive the design?
You should only use the values available or key to your design. Using funny math to create the geometry which may still create the model correctly makes it hard for someone to pickup your design later and figure out how you modeled it.
  • Will my modeling technique allow for changes later?
You all know what I mean here. Deleting a feature should rarely make your model explode. Model your part so that you can add, modify and delete features as your design matures.
  • Can my model be used in an assembly file and function as intended?
Make sure your part can be used upstream. If your part needs a center line workplane to be constrained into an assembly, make sure you have one where needed.


Now like I said, there are some gray areas but also some areas even though your finished model may look and smell correct, truly isn’t parametric or editable robust. My willing helpers also graciously agreed to share their identities in this post. Don’t take these next statements as criticism since every designer has different intents on how their models may be used later. These will possibly just help my readers think about what may be important for their own models.
Scott’s model was interesting in the fact that he modeled the base with the hole features already in the sketch. When he extruded the base, the holes were extruded as well. I’m not sure why he didn’t add the holes as hole features later. What if we needed to change these to counter bored holes later? My advice, always add holes as hole features that allow you to design in the intelligence of the software’s hole command.


Franciso modeled the same holes using the hole command, but inserted them each separately. Not right, not wrong, just different. If you wanted to change the holes to a counter bore later, you would need to do it twice.
 Issue1_BennerChris modeled the bearing hole using geometry from a shared sketch versus using the hole command on a concentric face.


 Paul also modeled the bearing hole using sketch geometry and extruding.



All of the models did follow the good principle of applying the fillets last. Changing or deleting fillets will have no impact on any geometry created prior to the fillet using this method. There is nothing more annoying than deleting a fillet and having to fix some other geometry as as result.
With all this being said, developing a culture of accountability as well as pride in ones work for your CAD models is important if you plan on reusing your designs or building out your CAD libraries. There are several whitepapers and classes  (such as this one) and YouTube videos out there that can help you understand some of the best practices for creating a model. I’d like to hear from you all on how you enforce or adhere to your companies best practices for modeling or what approach you would take to the example shown above. If you would like for me to take a look at your Inventor model, you can post it to my contact form here.
In the next few posts I’ll be unpacking what all of this means by picking out some key principles to follow and shining some light on the importance of each. Thanks for reading!
Thanks again to Luis, Paul, Francisco, Scott and Chris for helping me out on this post. You guys rock!


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