Take Flight with Free-Form Tools in Inventor 2015

30 Jan, 2015 By: Nino Caldarola

IMAGINiT Tricks Tutorial: Traditional Autodesk Inventor modeling tools do not readily lend themselves to creating smooth organic shapes. Free-form modeling, however, allows these shapes to be created very quickly and easily.

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

I have been working with Autodesk Inventor for a very long time (Inventor 2, anyone?). It’s been an exciting journey, watching Inventor go from the new kid in the 3D modeling world to a powerful contender. Parametrically speaking, Inventor is one of the most user-friendly modelers around, but as with all software, there have always been shortcomings that caused me to think, “Why won’t it do this?” or “I wish it could do that.”

Autodesk seems to have read my mind. The introduction of free-form tools within Inventor 2015 was a huge step forward for the application. These are extremely cool tools that have been sorely needed in Inventor for a while, they will add an additional facet to its functionality. The tool set is not perfect yet — however, we need to start somewhere, right?

I love a challenge, so to try out the new tools I modeled something that I’ve struggled with for a long time: a smooth aircraft fuselage. Let’s see how the free-form tools accomplish this in Inventor.

Free-form modeling is not new; there are a number of CAD packages that incorporate different levels of it. Inventor starts out by creating a primitive mesh. Your choices include Box, Cylinder, Sphere, Torus, or Quadball. Each one provides the initial solid or surface to begin the freeform model.

The fuselage will be a modified cylinder, which will be stretch and manipulated to form the body. On selection of the cylinder, the following dialog box will appear.

This provides the setting for the primitive so the size and radius can be established. Faces settings are used to establish the faceting of the primitive, and symmetrical relationships in the x, y, and z axis can also be initially set. After these settings are determined, a starting origin plane and insertion point are selected. The cylinder will then be created according to the setting established.

Now comes the creative part. The cylinder is a meshed model, so we need to modify it. We are able to freehand, or parametrically drive the changes. The ability to push and pull it into shape is done with the Editing tools. Edit Form is the principal tool used for modifications.

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About the Author: Nino Caldarola

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