Why Inventor?

I’m just wondering why FIRST/Autodesk gives us Inventor instead of AutoCAD. AutoCAD is used MUCH more in the real world. I really can’t think of a company that I’ve been to that uses inventor. The Air Force uses AutoCAD, Boeing Uses CATIA, Delphi uses Unigraphics, AndyMark uses SolidEdge…Other places use Pro-E. What companies DO use Inventor?

I know DEKA uses Inventor, also my old company Acu-Gage Systems used Inventor.

Autodesk is a major sponsor and Inventor is supposed to be their program for 3-D based modeling and designing.

A lot of other companies use SolidWorks and ProE, but its not like its a bad thing for FIRST. I mean, it is rather good way for modeling. I often do find myself wishing that Inventor used CAD’s system of drawing (dimensioning before you draw), but then again, so much of our work we do in robotics is dependant, hence you don’t know the dimensions.

Inventor is solid, and Inventor Studio is a great way to take modeling and engineering and turn it into marketing and presenting with its rendering capabilities and animating process.

It is a branch between CAD and 3dsMAX. That is why. CAD and 3dsMAX are probably Autodesk’s two largest programs used in the industry (as of my knowledge, i could be wrong). And by using inventor, you get a taste of the concepts of both.

It would be terrible if we got autoCAD instead of inventor.

Anything that isn’t parametric isn’t worth using for our applications, imo.

Agreed 100%. Inventor is a much more powerful and capable program in most areas. (AutoCAD does have an advantage for some things. But Microsoft Vizio could probably make up for what Inventor lacks).

I do agree with the fact that almost no one in industry has ever heard of Inventor. But, it’s our job to show them. When I tell them “it’s just like Solidworks” they say “oh, okay, I know what that one is”

And here’s the thing, FIRST isn’t about learning how to do one specific thing or how to use one specific piece of software. FIRST is about learning how to learn.

Once you learn on Invnetor, you can make the jump to any CAD system you like.

AutoCAD is primarily a 2D-based drafting platform while Inventor is a 3D-based. Whether a company uses AutoCAD or Inventor is based off their needs. There are a lot of companies that use CAD software for 2D use, such as blueprints of buildings, but have no need to model complex assemblies in 3D. Sure, you can model your house in 3D, but the blueprints needed to build the house are only 2D drawings. So for some companies, why buy Inventor when all you need is AutoCAD?

On the other hand, engineering companies that design 3D components would be more likely to use a 3D-drafting program such as SolidWorks or Inventor. Sure, AutoCAD can extrude parts and such to create 3D components, but Inventor is better suited to take dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of individual components and combine them into a single assembly.

Since robotics generally involves a lot more 3D-modeling than 2D-drafting, we have Inventor. Also, the 10 licenses of Inventor given to each team are the most expensive item in our annual Kit of Parts from FIRST. If any company is donating products worth thousands of dollars to every FRC team, shouldn’t we be thankful for said product? :wink:

That is true. Much of what I’ve learned from inventor has somewhat carried onto CATIA. Btw, has anyone here used CATIA? I love/hate it.

For those schools that offer both a robotics team and the project lead the way curriculum (which I’m guessing is a rather high percentage), Inventor is used in both, and it is helpful in that the students and teachers are fluent in the program come design/build time.

If an engineering company that produces or deals with three dimensional objects is using AutoCAD to the exclusion of a 3d parametric software package, like Inventor or Solidworks, it isn’t because AutoCAD is better.

It’s because the company is made up of people who don’t know how and don’t want to learn how, to use Inventor or it’s contemporaries. AutoCAD has a lot of institutional momentum behind it, but that doesn’t mean that it is better. It’s just all some companies know.

-Andy A.

I use CATIA 5 at work. It is similar enough to Inventor that I don’t have problems switching back and forth, though sometimes I forget the mouse moves and try to use the F-keys instead and vice versa. CATIA is better at surfacing, but it is also a LOT more expensive. FIRST robots generally don’t need more surfacing than Inventor can handle. It’s not like FIRST robots have wings or anything like that.

BTW CATIA 5 is much different than CATIA 4. I assume you are using 5 since you said there was some carry over. When we switched I forgot all my 4 as quickly as possible. My time with 4 was a very traumatic experience.

Well I am having a strange time switching to pro/E. I keep using the hot keys from inventor.

CATIA Likes to change drastically between different versions…heck even between different releases. My CATIA textbook was written for V5 R14. We are using V5 R16 and there are some noticeable differences.

That’s one area where Inventor excels. I can go between version 5 and 11 virtually seamlessly. Every release improves the program a little but, you can still keep on using it the way you have been for years.

I also love Inventor, but would not hesitate to try other CAD softwares. The main reason I use Inventor is because it is provided, and it’s a great tool for what we do.

Sounds like some of you have experience with many different modeling programs. Besides the details of drawing and assembling, are they all similar in their ability to create iparts?

What about properties such as determine weight, moments, CG’s etc?

I know I always dream of having the whole robot perfectly designed in Inventor and have it actually tell us the weight to the nearest pound, but there’s just not enough time and manpower, and once the real robot starts taking shape, most of the students loose interest in their Inventor model.

My company uses UG and Inventor. Inventor is cheap, and in my experience offers more than enough design capability for the average user. I work between both platforms regularly and find Inventor to be quite user friendly…most concepts transfer between the two programs without much trouble.

Also, if you’re dead set on Autocad…do what I do. Make your 2D layout in autocad and import it into your sketch environment.

When we do complex laser or waterjet cuts with lots of windows, I design it in Autocad…transfer it to inventor and extrude!

No criticism of your views intended, but there are some pretty good engineering companies which use AutoCAD primarily, with good results. I know some designers who can positively rip in 2D and have been for years (which is the key).

That said, people from one such company were at a project meeting where I presented an Inventor-created presentation of a mechanism’s operation and I saw them exchanging raised-eyebrow looks. They are installing Inventor at their company now.

MOMENTUM is a key thing here. Companies who are using a certain CAD program (any of them) go through much pain (aka. high costs) to switch over to another CAD program. Due to this pain, companies are resistent to change.

These high costs include user training, adaptation of current standards on legacy systems into new standards on new systems, the difficulty of reading and re-using old designs with a new system.

For a company to change over to a new CAD system, they would need to justify the costs, and realize that there are future cost savings that would outweigh these change-over expenses. If a company can get a create a business case for this changeover, then the new CAD system could be justified. For smaller companies with lower overhead costs (and less momentum), this could be easier to do. For big companies (Air Force, Delphi, GM, etc.), it would be more difficult.


One other thing about 2-D vs. 3-D (parametric) CAD systems: sometimes 3-D is too much information for a given job. When you’re doing finely detailed work like robot design, there are obvious advantages to fitting things precisely and designing all aspect of the part. When designing some support frame out of structural steel, that level of detail is often excessive.

Many places use a combination of 2-D and 3-D software, as necessary, in order to try to balance the needs of a given project.

I know my team uses UG and we love it. Its the upgraded a lot version of solid edge. We have designed the past 4 years robots on it.