Working With Large Files in Autodesk Inventor

30 Apr, 2015 By: James “Jim” O’Flaherty

IMAGINiT Tricks Tutorial: Don't get stuck waiting for your files — update your settings and save time now.

Best Practices

While making these setting changes often happens after you've had trouble with a large file, I highly recommend that you take the time now to update them. Setting these options beforehand will make your files much easier to open and work with along with making them more stable and less prone to data corruption. Convincing everyone else in your department to follow these same settings and practices will vastly improve everyone's experience.

If you make small changes at the Part level, you'll make the model more stable and keep the file as small as possible, which leads to more stable and smaller assembly files. This approach becomes very relevant when you have to create a large assembly.

Part Model files

Even if you have a very capable workstation, incorporating these practices will still benefit not only you, but your co-workers as well, plus you'll be developing good working habits.

One of the very first things you should incorporate across the board is to take the End of Part Marker in the Model Browser and move it all the way up the browser tree to just below the Origin folder. This retains the features in the part file but doesn't require them to be "active" when saved. In turn this takes the size of the file to its bare minimum. Note the difference in file size for the same part using this practice (figure 5).

Figure 5. Notice the difference in file size when you move the End of Part up to the top.
Figure 5. Notice the difference in file size when you move the End of Part up to the top.

When you open the file, you simply move the End of Part Marker back down to the bottom (or to the point of the edit) and the file rebuilds. Make your edits, save, and move the Part Marker back up to the Origin folder and save again, store in Vault or wherever you save your files. Again, make this a common practice and the savings in time and space will be enormous. If you work in an engineering department, inform your co-workers of this process, along with the others listed here so they are well informed of what and why the files act and look the way they do. I've seen too many instances where one person used a more advanced process to create a feature and a co-worker had no idea what was done or how to edit such, so they actually deleted the questionable features and re-worked them to the basic way they knew. Educating your co-workers benefits everyone in the long run.

Shut down your workstation. How often do you shut down not only the application, and Windows, but your workstation? I've seen numerous people who, at the end of the work day or even the week, simply get up and walk away and go home. Aside from the obvious security concerns of leaving your workstation unattended and open for anyone, shutting down the workstation or at the very least, the application allows the system to release "leaked" memory. There are numerous subroutines and drivers that grab this memory but do not release it when it's finished. The only way to clear the memory is a full shut down. If the file you need to open is very large and takes a long time to load, you can go into the Application Settings menu and under the File tab, check the box that saves the last opened file to cache.

"Keep it simple, stupid!" We've all heard that expression before. Well, in this case it's very true. Keep your part as simple as possible because the more complex your part is, the more calculations need to be done, the longer it takes to load said file. For example, I've seen users creating parts such as bolts, screws, etc., and they actually attempt to model the threads of these bolts. Why? They are not the bolt manufacturer — there's no reason for such nonsense. Even if you need to model a bolt, you can "dumb it down" for practical use in your assemblies. If you have purchased parts, you can edit these files and remove unneeded features such as fillets, chamfers, and the like, as long as you don't modify the integral features of the part. This practice can drastically reduce the file size of the part (figure 6).

Figure 6. Keep your parts simple; don't add details you don't need and you'll save a lot of time.
Figure 6. Keep your parts simple; don't add details you don't need and you'll save a lot of time.

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