Inventor In-Depth: Reuse Your Proven Designs

13 Oct, 2005 By: Kevin Schneider Cadalyst

Create new products from successful ones with the Copy Design feature in Autodesk Vault.

Have you ever needed to create new products based on existing designs? You can copy the entire assembly structure along with the related 2D drawings using the Copy Design feature in Autodesk Vault. Choose which files to copy, which to rename and which to reuse as they are, eliminating hours of unnecessary effort. You can manipulate existing assemblies to derive new designs and one-offs complete with fully associative documentation.

Getting Started
Using the adjustable bracket, right-click on the assembly and choose Copy Design (figure 1).

Figure 1. Choose the Copy Design command from the drop-down menu.

This command displays the files you may copy in the Copy Design window (figure 2).

Figure 2. Review the found files available to copy.

Figure 3. Choose Tee, List, Uses or Where Used views of your found files.
The Copy Design dialog box helps you review the found files by providing four views (figure 3). From left to right these are:
  • Tee -- displays the files in the folder hierarchy, as they are stored in the vault.
  • List -- displays a flat list of all files.
  • Uses -- shows parent-to-child relationships starting with the file you chose to start the Copy Design operation.
  • Where used -- all drawings and presentations that are parents of the file you chose to start the Copy Design operation.

Set the Operations
The Copy Design function can copy, reuse and replace individual components. To change selections, click on the round icon or use the Context menu (figure 4).

Figure 4. Click on the icon corresponding to the action you want to take on a selected file.

Set the Copy and Reuse Operations
Let's say you want to copy the sub-assembly in figure 5 to change the shape of the large knob and change the smaller knob to one with a socket heat.

Figure 5. Choose List View to verify which selected elements will be affected.

Choose List View to confirm the appropriate selections were made. Autodesk Vault will copy, replace and reuse the components to automate the creation of the new design.

Name Your Files
By default, files selected to be copied are denoted by the addition of a suffix number. For example, a copy of DIAL.IPT will be called DIAL (2).IPT (figure 6).

Figure 6. The highlighted file name shows the default numeric suffix denoting the copied file.

You can define a naming scheme for the copied files with the option to add a user-defined prefix and a suffix to files automatically (figure 7). The program also can automatically increment the new files if the original file names end in an integer. This nomenclature is useful when CAD files are named using item or part numbers.

Figure 7. Define a naming scheme for file names that are numbers to distinguish copies easily.

Keep in mind several parameters when you name files:

  • By default, all files are set to Reuse except for the initial file selected to be copied.
  • Changing the operation for a parent file does not automatically change the children. Changing the child does not change the parent file. To automatically change the action of children with the parent, press while changing the operation of the parent.
  • Autodesk Inventor lets you change shared files, content center files and files outside the project structure to Copy or Replace. When an outside file or a Content Center file is set to Copy, it is copied into the same folder as the new design.
  • If the file relationships are set to include all related documentation, the presentations and drawings of children are set to Copy if the child is set to Copy.

Once you have completed naming your files, click OK, and Autodesk Vault will complete the copy operations. The new design with the copied and replaced files appears, ready to use in Autodesk Vault (figure 8).

Figure 8. Copied and replaced files automatically appear in Autodesk Vault.

After making the necessary design changes, you can see the associative drawing and assembly (figure 9).

Figure 9. Your design reflects the elements copied and incorporated.

Customers tell us that sometimes as much as 80% of a new design is based on an existing product design. Use the Copy Design function in Autodesk Vault to make efficient, effective use of your proven designs.

About the Author: Kevin Schneider

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