Improve Autodesk Inventor Template Files

22 Feb, 2012 By: Kevin Keene

IMAGINiT Tricks Tutorial: These simple changes can save you time when you start new part, assembly, and presentation files.

Editor's Note: This tutorial courtesy of IMAGINiT Technologies.

In the last couple of releases of Inventor, Autodesk has included some settings that are often overlooked. In this article, I will show you how a few subtle changes can make a noticeable difference when working with parts, assemblies, and presentation files. Because drawing templates are much more company-specific (and such a big topic), I will not be covering them in this Tech Tip. I will address the Initial View Extents and Default BOM Structure settings, as well as the Automated Centerlines command.

Initial View Extents (for part and assembly files).
Have you ever noticed that when you start a new part or assembly file, you are zoomed way in on the model? As you get ready to start drawing your geometry, one of the first things you always have to do is zoom out. By default, Autodesk sets the initial view extents (viewing area) to a width of just under 4" and a height of just under 2". This works well if you’re designing really small components, but in most cases, your models will be bigger than that.

Starting with the 2011 release, Autodesk added an Initial View Extents setting, which you can adjust to alter the initial viewing area of your parts and assemblies. Depending on the average size of your parts, you may want to adjust the values from 4" x 2" to something like 24" x 18". This way, when you start adding your geometry, it will fit on the screen without having to zoom out.

Making this change is very simple. Open your Part and/or Assembly template file(s) and bring up the Document Settings dialog box. In the Modeling tab, locate the Initial View Extents area in the middle of the box. Change the "3.937 in" and "1.969 in" values to something that suits your needs, save your template, then start a new file and see what you think.

Default BOM Structure (for part and assembly files).
Oftentimes, when you are designing an assembly, there are some parts that are purchased and not manufactured. Sometimes a 3D model can be downloaded from the vendor or another resource, but occasionally it may be necessary to model it. In these cases, there are two settings you should consider changing to Purchased: the BOM Structure and the Material. This way, purchased items can be sorted out from manufactured items later during documentation.

Obviously, we don’t want every part to be set to Purchased, so this will require creating a new template called Purchased Part. First, open your Part and/or Assembly template file(s) and bring up the Document Settings dialog box. In the Bill of Materials tab, change the Default BOM Structure drop-down to Purchased. In the Standard tab, change the Material drop-down list to Purchased. (Note: If you want to change the Material to Purchased, you will need to first create the Purchased material type using the Styles and Standards editor. This setting only applies to part files.) Finally, from the Application menu, use the Save Copy As Template option and call it Purchased Part.

Now any time you need to model a purchased component, you can use the Purchased Part template, in which those two settings are already set, and you won't have to worry about manually changing them later.

Automated Centerlines (for drawings).
The final topic I’ll explore has to do with adding center marks and centerlines to drawings. I’m sure you are very aware of the four commands for manually adding center marks and centerlines to drawings, but did you know there is an automated way as well? After a view is selected, there is an Automated Centerlines command located in the right-click menu. When you select this command, center marks and centerlines are placed on the view(s) automatically.

In order to get this to work, the default setting needs to be changed. Start by opening your Drawing template file(s). Bring up the Document Settings dialog box, and in the Drawing Tab, click the Automated Centerlines button. In the Automated Centerlines dialog, check the icons for appropriate Features and Projection method. (The image below shows my typical settings.) Save your template, then start a new file and test the Automated Centerlines command.

Although none of these settings will make or break your templates, they should save you a couple of steps each time you start new files. I hope you can take advantage of them.

About the Author: Kevin Keene

Kevin Keene

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