Direct Editing (Alibre Options Tutorial)

31 Oct, 2007 By: Pablo Lopez

Working with imported parts using the new Direct Editing toolset.

Alibre Design 10.0 customers have access to a new toolset called Direct Editing. These new tools are available within the Part workspace and can be used to manipulate part geometry without manually creating or editing sketches or features. Direct Editing is particularly useful when working with imported parts that don't have an editable feature history. Previously, making changes to designs that don't have a design history could be cumbersome and time consuming. With these new tools, it's a quick and painless process that doesn't require extensive CAD knowledge.

In this example, we are going to make some big changes to an imported part that we received from a colleague that uses another CAD application. Our task is to redesign a smaller part that fits within the finished assembly. We must change the sizes of some holes, remove some design elements, move some faces up and down, and pattern some items -- all without access to any design history.

If you would like to follow along, download the part here.

The imported part from a colleague.

Change Hole Sizes
Our first task is to change the size of some of the circular items in our model using the Direct Editing toolset. The tool we'll use is the Push/Pull Radius tool.

Step 1. From the Direct Editing fly-out on the modeling toolbar, select the Push/Pull Radius tool. You'll notice that an overlay pops over the top of your workspace (see figure below). This is new and is used by all the Direct Editing tools. This replaces the traditional tool dialog box for these tools.

The new popup for Direct Editing tools.

Step 2. Next, select the items you need to resize. Select the three internal faces for the holes, as displayed below.

Select the three internal faces for the holes.

Step 3. Notice as of the first selection, you see a ball appear. You can drag this ball with the mouse to resize things with a real-time preview.

Use this ball to resize objects.

Step 4. Drag the ball towards the outside of the cylinder. You can also enter a precise value in the overlay at the top, but this time just drag it so you can try it out. You should see a preview that looks similar to the image on the left before you let go of the mouse button. When you let go, you'll see the actual 3D preview, similar to the image on the right. When you let go of the mouse after dragging the hotspot, you can see the holes have been resized at the same time.

Just drag to reset sizes.

Step 5. Click Exit and the change is applied and the Push/Pull Radius tool disappears.

You've just made your first design change. Keep in mind that you could easily have entered in a value into the overlay for a precise change. The picture below shows a change of .30", which we've typed in, as an alternate way of using this tool.

An alternate way to use the Push/Pull Radius tool is to enter a value into the overlay.

Remove Design Elements
Our second task is to remove some incorrect features using the Remove Tool. In just a few clicks, our unwanted geometry disappears. Start by flipping the model over to expose the underside. The detail we'll remove is an extrusion, highlighted in blue below.

Next, let's remove this extrusion.

Step 1. Select the Remove Tool from the Direct Editing fly-out.
Step 2. Instead of selecting each face to be removed -- in this case five -- we're going to let Alibre Design select them for us by taking advantage of new inferencing technology. To turn this on, check the Use Inferencing for box and select Pocket or Boss. If we were removing fillets, we would select Fillet Chain.

Turn on inferencing.

Alibre Design selects the five faces automatically.
Step 3. Next, when we select a face, Alibre Design tries to figure out our intentions and make the appropriate selections for us. Select any face on the extrusion and the entire extrusion highlights. You'll see the Selection box change to show 5 faces.

Step 4. Click Apply, and the design items are removed.

The faces are removed.

We've just made our second design change. In just a few clicks, we've accomplished a lot. However, there's more to do.

Pattern Imported Geometry
Now that we've removed the previous design element, we need replace it with a copy of the partial tube. Previously, there was no way to do this and you had to create the item from scratch. Now, we can use a new tool called a Topology Pattern. This tool patterns items without relying on features. Step 1. Select the Circular Topology Pattern tool from the Pattern fly-out on the modeling toolbar. Note that the blue icons are Feature patterns, and the red icons are Topology patterns.
Step 2. Next, select the item you'd like to pattern. As before, we'll take advantage of automatic inferencing. Inferencing for this tool is automatic and can't be turned off. Click anywhere on the item you're patterning, represented in blue below.

Click anywhere on the item you are patterning.

Step 3. Next, similarly to using to the traditional Feature Pattern, fill in the rest of the field in the dialog box. Select the Center field and then click the center cylindrical cut. Then, set the angle to 120 and the copies to 2. A preview displays. Press OK to finalize the change.

A preview displays.

We've now patterned our design element and can move on to our last design change. The final pattern is shown below.

Our final pattern.

Push and Pull Faces
We're almost done with our design changes. The remaining things we need to do revolve around using the Push/Pull Face tool. This tool lets you grab a planar (flat) face and offset it by some distance. There are two primary faces we need to manipulate, shown on different sides of the part in blue below.

We are going to manipulate two faces shown in blue.

Step 1. The first thing we need to do is to click on the Push/Pull Face tool from the Direct Editing fly-out.
Step 2. The overlay pops up near the top of the work area. Select the face represented in the figure on the left above. You'll see a hotspot, similar to the one used previously in the lesson, that you can drag to change the offset of the face.
Step 3. Drag the hotspot up and down slowly and observe that occasionally, other faces are highlighted, in addition to the arrow that is created between the hotspot's current and beginning location. This color change represents that, at that exact point, the face you are dragging and another face are coplanar. Use this inferencing as an easy way to make things level. Drag the hotspot until the upper face of the part turns blue, as shown below.

Drag the upper face until it turns blue.

Step 4. Let go of the mouse and you'll see the face jumps locations to replace the preview. Your figure should now look similar to this.

A preview of your part.

Step 5. Now, turn the part over and select the face colored in blue below. Then, click on the Depth field and enter in a precise value of -.450 cm. Notice that again you can drag the hotspot or enter a precise value. After entering in the value, press Tab or click the Refresh button to update the preview.

Turn the part over and select the blue area.

Step 6. Press Apply and the change is made. Our modifications are complete.

The final part.

Congratulations! You've just done some fairly large model modifications in only a couple of mouse clicks using the new Direct Editing toolset. The more you use the tools, the more you'll become accustomed to how they work and what you can and can't do with them. For a more in depth review of each tool, check the Alibre Design 10.0 Help in the Direct Editing section. This section can be found under Working with Models / Parts / Features / Creating Features / Direct Editing Tools.

About the Author: Pablo Lopez

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