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).
AutoCAD Inventor Professional vs AutoCAD
The following table looks into the AutoCAD inventor vs AutoCAD head to head comparison of the features;
|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.)|
|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.
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;
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.
Once all the parts are assembled using the various commands, the assembly for the simple ball joint is shown below in figure 5;
The following snapshot shows the list of commands used to join the simple ball joint.
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.
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.
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
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].
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.