February 13

[2019] AutoCAD Inventor: Advanced Tutorial, Requirements and Comparisons

[2019] AutoCAD Inventor: Advanced Tutorial, Requirements and Comparisons

Sohaib Alam

Released almost 2 decades ago, AutoCAD Inventor has now become one of the leading CAD modeling and designing softwares. With more and more companies doing rapid manufacturing and prototyping, AutoCAD inventor has several add-ins and mods that makes it favorable over other CAD software for the industry.

Table of Contents (click to navigate)

Overview of AutoCAD and Inventor

It has been a subject of debate since the launch of the inventor in 1999, that whether the designers and engineers should use AutoCAD for their designing and modeling or Inventor is the software to shift to. And a simple answer to that is, that it depends on the nature of the requirement of the job. In this section, we will be looking into the overview of both software and for what jobs each software is most suitable to be used.

AutoCAD is an all-in-one suite for technicians and design engineers whereas, Inventor is exactly the opposite of it. AutoCAD was released nearly four decades back, and the design philosophy of AutoCAD was to focus on more things for different kinds of users for a larger domain. Let it be a civil engineering design, manufacturing of mechanical parts, post-development cross-section evaluation and manipulation or as simple as a script-based macro for the animation of the combined parts, AutoCAD was developed to be able to do all that just as easily as anything in between.

On the other hand, the inventor wasn’t meant for any of this, and that is the beauty of this software. Initially released back in 1999, AutoCAD inventor is a 3D designing and modeling computer software developed by Autodesk. The inventor is the software of choice for many of the industry giants. Primarily used to create 3D mechanical designs, tooling creation, design communication, and product simulation, this software is similar to Solidworks, Creo, and LibreCad (Tara, 2015).

AutoCAD Inventor includes a powerful parametric, freeform modeling tools and direct edit capabilities along with multi-CAD ability in their standard DWG drawings. AutoCAD Inventor makes also use 2D and 3D integration of the models into a single work environment which creates a virtual representation of how the final product will look so that the designers can effectively validate the form factor, function and fit of the model before the design is passed to be manufactured. AutoCAD inventor vs mechanical parts also goes hand in hand since the it allows for the creation of many individual parts and combine them together as one (EDU Learn, 2016).

Figure 1 – A screenshot of the startup window of AutoCAD Inventor Professional 2017

AutoCAD Inventor Professional vs AutoCAD

The following table looks into the AutoCAD inventor vs AutoCAD head to head comparison of the features;

  AutoCAD Inventor AutoCAD
User base Primarily focussed towards manufacturing Primarily focused over 2D//3D model designing
The scope of the software Manufacturing General drafting and designing
Focus area Manufacturing All types (Mechanical, architecture, civil, etc.)
Designing format Dimension-driven Geometry-driven
File format IPT, IAM, IDW, and IPN DWG only
Learning curve Relatively short Relatively longer

AutoCAD Inventor vs AutoCAD: Final Thoughts

Overall, AutoCAD inventor looks like an ideal choice of software when it comes to any 2D and 3D drawing applications, however; it must be accounted for that the requirements of the users dictate the feasibility and practicality of each software. Though Inventor is the software of choice by many, it does not mean that AutoCAD is a bad software. The entire Disney World floor plan and 3D structures were created using AutoCAD. At that time, the Inventor did not even exist, and therefore, AutoCAD solids did an exceptionally great job. Where AutoCAD offers extreme control, the Inventor is easy to use, and the learning curve is short (Lahtinen, 2011).

AutoCAD Inventor System Requirements

Though with each iteration of AutoCAD inventor each year, the AutoCAD inventor requirements change each year. With AutoCAD inventor professional 2019 being the latest iteration for this software, here are the system requirements of it (CadAssist, 2018).

System requirements
AutoCAD Inventor Professional 2019
Operating Software Microsoft Windows 7 – 64-bit Microsoft Windows 8.1 – 64-bit Microsoft Windows 10 (Ver.1607 or higher) – 64-bit
Memory Minimum – 8 GB RAM (parts < 500) Recommended – 20 GB RAM or more
CPU Minimum – 2.5 GHz or Higher Recommended – 3.0 GHz or higher
Graphics Minimum – 1 GB GPU (Direct X 11 Complaint) Recommended – 4 GB GPU (Direct X 11 Complaint)
Disk Space Installer plus the complete installation: 40 GB
Pointing device MS- Mouse Complaint
Display Minimum – 1280 x 1024 Recommended – 3840 x 2160 (4K resolution)
For highly complex models, complex mold and large assemblies (parts > 1000)
CPU 3.30 GHz or more, 4 or more cores
Memory 24 GB RAM or more
Graphics 6 GB GPU (Direct X 11 Complaint)

Creating a Simple Part and Assembly in Inventor

As discussed earlier, in Inventor, we need to make four different types of file formats in order to make one complete assembly. It may sound complicated, but it makes the process easier to make several parts and combine them into one assembly before putting off the part for manufacturing. The four file formats are IPT, IAM, IDW, and IPN.

Figure 2 – The snapshot shows the four different types of file formats in AutoCAD Inventor Professional

On how to create the parts and assemblies and how each file format plays its roles, we will be looking into making a simple ball joint. Please note that in this article, we will be looking at how each file format plays its role and not on how the parts are made using different commands. For details on designing and modeling each part, assembling them together and how to display them professionally, we will be posting other articles on them.

Creating 2D and 3D Objects or Parts in Inventor: IPT Format

All the parts that go in the making of complex assemblies are first made in IPT format. This file format allows the designers to individually create single parts in multiple IPT files and then combine them later. Therefore, in case of our simple ball joint, there are a total of five parts. Hence, five IPT files will be there for one assembly. IPT files for two parts are shown below;

Figure 3 – The two IPT files with two separate parts in the making of the simple ball joint

Making the Assembly: IAM Format

Once all the individual parts are made, they are then assembled as one in the IAM format. IAM format allows for the assembling of various parts in the IPT format using different joint and constraint commands. The different types of joint and constraint commands are shown in figure 4.

Figure 4 – The constraints and joint commands in Inventor Professional

Once all the parts are assembled using the various commands, the assembly for the simple ball joint is shown below in figure 5;

Figure 5 – The final assembly (IAM format) of the simple ball joint

The following snapshot shows the list of commands used to join the simple ball joint.

Figure 6 – Zoomed in section of the different commands used to make the assembly shown in figure 5

Schematic Demonstration of the Finished Assembly: IDW Format

Once all the parts have been assembled, in order to be presented to others in a much more legible format and to create blueprints of the finalized design, the IDW format is used. IDW format allows for the creation of the different views of the parts/assembly as well as allow the drafters to create the BOM (Bill of Materials)/part list of the assembly.

Figure 7 – IDW file for the simple ball joint

Display of Designs and Assemblies in Motion: IPN Format

In order to create an exploded projection of the assembly and see how the parts are connected, the IPN file format is used. IPN stands for the AutoCAD inventor presentation file format. The following image shows the snapshot of the parts of a simple ball joint in an exploded projection.

Final words

AutoCAD inventor is by far the most commonly used 2D and 3D designing software in the industry. Academics also use it all over the world since the learning curve is short and getting the hang of the software is easier as compared to other software in the market. AutoCAD inventor has completely revolutionized the manufacturing industry by greatly reducing the manufacturing time, by optimizing different parts and assemblies and by promoting the rapid prototyping techniques such as 3D printing and multi-axis CNC machining.


CadAssist, 2018. System requirements for Autodesk Inventor. [Online]
Available at: https://knowledge.autodesk.com/support/inventor-products/learn-explore/caas/sfdcarticles/sfdcarticles/System-requirements-for-Autodesk-Inventor-2019.html
[Accessed 08th February 2019].

EDU Learn, 2016. What is AutoCAD? How is AutoCAD used?. [Online]
Available at: https://www.edulearn.com/article/what_is_autocad.html
[Accessed 08th February 2019].

Lahtinen, T., 2011. Design for manufacturing and assembly rules and guidelines for engineering, Pirkanmaa: Tampere University of Technology.

Tara, R., 2015. Autodesk Inventor Adds Three Major Enhancements. [Online]
Available at: https://www.engineering.com/DesignSoftware/DesignSoftwareArticles/ArticleID/10848/Autodesk-Inventor-Adds-Three-Major-Enhancements.aspx
[Accessed 08th February 2019].

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About the Author

Sohaib Alam is an Undergraduate at the University of Sunderland specializing in Mechanical Engineering. Sohaib specializes in Physics among many other engineering subject matter. He focuses his writing on ANSYS and AutoCAD Inventor.

Sohaib Alam

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