Autodesk Inventor User Interface
Introduction to Project Files
As you create designs in Autodesk Inventor 2011, file dependencies are established between files of different types. For example, when you create a 3D assembly, a file dependency between the assembly and its part models is created. As your designs grow in complexity, these dependencies can become more complicated. Autodesk Inventor utilizes project files to locate the required files as they are needed. As a result of using the information contained in the project file, when you open that 3D assembly, Autodesk Inventor can locate the 3D part files and display them properly.
In the context of an introduction to the Autodesk Inventor user interface, all that is important to realize is that you must have an active project before you create any files. This is why the project file is listed in the New File dialog box. Autodesk Inventor installs several sample project files, but the default project is initially active.
Introduction to Inventor File Types – Digital Prototypes
To maximize performance, Autodesk Inventor uses different file types for each type of file. Assembly files are stored in a different type of file than the parts that are used to create them. 2D drawing information can be stored in either the IDW file type that is unique to Autodesk Inventor, or the DWG format that is native to AutoCAD® and is an accepted industry standard.
In the following illustration, the New File dialog box illustrates the different types of files that you can create with Autodesk Inventor.
Part files (*.ipt) represent the foundation of all designs using Autodesk Inventor. You use the part file to describe the individual parts that make up an assembly.
Assembly (*.iam) files consist of multiple part files assembled in a single file to represent your assembly. You use assembly constraints to constrain all the parts to each other. The assembly file contains references to all of its component files.
You use presentation files (*.ipn) to create exploded views of the assembly. It is also possible to animate the exploded views to simulate how the assembly should be put together or taken apart.
You use drawing files (*.idw) to create the necessary 2D documentation of your design. Drawing files include dimensions, annotations, and views required for manufacturing. When you use a drawing file to create 2D views of an existing 3D model, the views are associative to the 3D model, and changes in model geometry are reflected in the drawing automatically. You can also use drawing files to create simple 2D drawings in much the same way that you use other 2D drawing programs.
Inventor drawing files can also be stored in the standard DWG format. If you use this format for your 2D drawings, they can be opened and saved in AutoCAD. This is a very useful option for users who must share their design data with others who use AutoCAD.
Introduction to the User Interface
All environments share a common layout for tabs on a single toolbar across the top of the application window called the ribbon. The ribbon contains tools and commands for specific tasks on separate tabs. Each environment, assembly, part, or drawing for example, displays tabs and tools specific to that environment. As you change tasks within a single environment, the ribbon adjusts to present the appropriate tabs and tools.
Autodesk Inventor uses a standard structure common in all Microsoft Windows applications. The structure is context-sensitive based on the environment and mode you are using.
As you are learning the application more thoroughly, you should take the time to familiarize yourself with the different options that are displayed on the ribbon in different work environments.
Quick Access Toolbar
By default, a single Inventor standard toolbar is displayed in all environments and is called the Quick Access toolbar. When you change between environments, the Quick Access toolbar updates to present valid tools for the environment. The toolbar contains tools for file handling, settings, view manipulation, and model or document appearance.
A section of the Quick Access toolbar is displayed in the following illustration. It is organized into groups based on functionality. This area of the toolbar displays tools for standard file and modeling operations.
Introduction to Context-Sensitive Tools
As you switch between environments or between tasks in a single environment, Autodesk Inventor displays the appropriate tools and information for the current task. The ribbon automatically presents tabs and tools for the current task. The browser displays information on the active environment.
Assembly Modeling Environment
When you are in the assembly modeling environment, the browser displays all the parts you use in the assembly. It also lists the Origin folder containing the default X, Y, and Z planes, axes, and center point of the assembly.
If applied, nested under each part, you see the assembly constraints. If you select an assembly constraint, an edit box is displayed at the bottom of the browser, enabling you to edit the offset or angle value for the constraint.
In the following illustration, the Assemble tab is shown in the default Normal mode. In Normal mode, the tool icons and names are displayed.
When you are in the presentation environment, you use the Presentation tab to create presentation views and tweaks, and to animate geometry in the presentation environment.
In the drawing environment, the browser displays the Drawing Resources folder containing sheet formats, borders, title blocks, and sketched symbols. It also displays each sheet in the drawing along with the views you create for each.
You can use keyboard shortcuts to access and begin tools and commands. For example, you can enter P for Place Component, or N for Create Component. Entering the keyboard shortcut is the same as clicking the tool on the tabs. When you hover the mouse over a tool on the ribbon, the tooltip will expand to reveal information about the tool. The keyboard shortcut will be listed as shown in the following illustration.
Shortcut/Alias Quick Reference
The Shortcut/Alias Quick Reference shows all of the default Shortcut/Alias keys along with the command names they execute.
Click Help menu > Shortcut/Alias Quick Reference to access the reference.
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