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Working With Large Files in Autodesk Inventor

1 May, 2015 By: James “Jim” O’Flaherty

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


Drawing Files

Drawings can, by their nature, be the biggest consumer of memory you'll deal with in CAD. Think about it, for each view you create, the system needs to do a massive amount of behind the scenes calculations to determine the representation of all the edges that make up that specific view. Edges that may be hidden and thus have to be represented as dashed, outer edge lines, hatch lines for sectioned views, surfaces, and edges shown in an isometric view. That's just a typical view. Now consider how many views you have on a typical part or assembly drawing and then add in all the annotations, charts, parts lists, etc. You get the idea, and we haven't even touched on the subject of shaded views.

Taking some of these steps for drawings will most likely give you the greatest return on speed and memory, even on small parts and assemblies.

Raster Views. These were discussed earlier in this paper. In essence, using Raster Views enables you to place the view in a raster mode and continue working in the drawing while the system calculates the info for displaying that view in the background. This is especially evident in large or complex assembly/part views.

Level of Detail. If you used the above mentioned Level of Detail option, you can specify which LOD you want to use for the view creation, no need to adjust the LOD in the assembly file.

Hidden Lines. Reduce your use of hidden lines as much as possible, especially in large assemblies. Typically the only time hidden lines are seen in assembly detail views are for added clarity, otherwise having hidden lines active in an assembly, can get rather confusing to say the least. Hidden lines tend to be one of the most memory-intensive components in a drawing view.

Title Block logos. If your logo is a bitmap, reduce its file size and resolution as much as possible, and then embed it into the file, instead of linking it. Linking the bitmap causes Inventor to locate that bitmap each time the drawing file is opened. Having the logo embedded outweighs the flexibility of being able to edit the logo independent of the title block.

If the logo was imported from an AutoCAD file, be sure to clean it up as much as possible. Delete any ACAD generated hatching, this can be added later from within Inventor.

Drawing Sheets. This is an option I personally don't use, but I'll leave it up to you to decide what works best for your situation. Some users suggest a way to minimize a drawing's file size is to limit the number of sheets per file, i.e., what would typically be a four-sheet drawing, gets divided up as sheets one and two as one file, then sheets three and four saved as a different file and so on.

Granted, this process does in fact cut the file size down and can even make it a bit faster opening the file, especially if you have a change to make on only one of the sheets, but think about the hassle of keeping the files together. It can be a data management nightmare for sure, especially if "number of files" is a concern. Navigating the directory where these files are stored can get very long. Consider you have a drawing file that has 10 sheets, and you divide each file into two sheets per maximum, instead of navigating for one file, you're now having to navigate for five separate files and so on.

Conclusion

In conclusion, if you are noticing a lot of lag time when dealing with large or complex files, first adopt whatever settings listed above that apply to your situation. If all else fails or you're still not satisfied, look into upgrading or updating your hardware. Use best practices and develop better modeling habits, and teach your co-workers as well. If everyone uses the same best practices, your daily work life should go much better and smoother. Who knows? You might actually end up loving your job. . . OK, I may have gone too far there.

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