Inventor In-Depth: Tips for Using Autodesk's Supplier Content Portal

9 Mar, 2006 By: Kevin Schneider Cadalyst

Save time and gain accuracy with parts pre-drawn by suppliers.

No one wants to model parts that they don't have to -- including those that they don't manufacture. That's where pre-modeled parts can really reduce your design time. Autodesk recently announced a new strategic relationship with PARTsolutions to provide pre-modeled parts. You can start by registering at There, you'll find a catalog of models of commonly used suppliers' parts in native Autodesk Inventor format. Key features of the new catalog include:
  • Native data in 3D models or 2D views
  • Accurate part numbers for trouble-free ordering
  • Configurable parts and assemblies that you can modify to reflect the complex features, options and positions that meet your specific needs
  • Continuous updates by suppliers to ensure you use accurate part models
  • French, English and German language availability.

Getting Started
Here's how to use the new online catalogs.

Launch your browser and go to From here you can access an online library of native Autodesk Inventor (as well as STEP, IGES and DWG) parts from more than 110 vendors (figure 1).

Figure 1. Access suppliers' pre-configured part models to save drawing time.

First, you will need to create an account. (Creating an account is only necessary the first time you log in). Click the Create Account link and fill in the required information. Be sure to enter a real e-mail address where you will receive an activation code required to activate your account. When you've finished entering your information, click Submit.

After a few minutes you should receive an account activation e-mail confirmation. Just click the link in the e-mail, confirm your information and, most importantly, select your CAD format preferences. These settings determine what CAD file types you will receive when you select a catalog part to download. You can choose more than one format: I use AutoCAD 2D and 3D and Autodesk Inventor R10 formats. After this step, your account should be active!

Getting Parts
Return to the page, click Login and enter your user name and password. For this exercise I want to get a clamp to use in an assembly I'm designing.

1. Let's say my company purchases clamps from Detsco. I scroll down the center pane until I see the square thumbnail for the Detsco catalog (figure 2).

Figure 2. Locate your vendor's parts catalog.

2. I select Manual Clamping Technology, then Vertical Clamps, then the 207UR to 210UR Size. Next, I browse within the table displayed for the size and options desired.

3. In this case I will use model number 207UR shown in the first row. Select the icon to preview the part (figure 3). I can pan, zoom and rotate the preview to confirm that it's the part I want.

Figure 3. Preview the part before you download the model.

4. In this case I am happy with what I see. To add the part to queue to download, I click on the Shopping Cart icon. The My Documents pane shows the queue of parts I have chosen to download during my session. I can add several, and the site will remember my selections if I have to log out. I can remove them from my cart by selecting the Trash icon. Each item in the queue has a status icon that shows if the part is ready to download (figure 4).

Figure 4. Check the status legend to confirm when your part is ready for download.

5. Once I've chosen the parts I want and their status is ready, I select the Diskette icon to download them. Doing so produces a ZIP archive with the various CAD formats of the parts. Then I simply extract these into my Autodesk Inventor project, launch the application and then open my new parts (figure 5).

Figure 5. Supplier part models arrive with the CAD file specifications you prefer.

Pre-modeled parts save you time and effort that you can apply to the product elements you'll produce. What's more, accurate pre-modeled parts with correct bill of materials data make sourcing and using supplier content easier than ever.

About the Author: Kevin Schneider

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