Why Inventor?

For me geometry is geometry. CAD programs are all alike. There are 225 industry professionals registered for my Inventor class at AU and there is another full class running at the same time slot. http://www.autodeskevents.com/au2006/index.cfm?site=manufacturing&mainsite=faculty&speakerID=9948&filter=K

I see the transistion from AutoCAD to Inventor (or SolidWorks) to be similar to the transition from the drawing board to CAD. If I were preparing for the future I think I would want to be learning the next generation tools.

Here are some similar tutorials that might be useful in comparing CAD programs.

Our sponsor Sonny’s The Car Wash Factory uses Inventor for everything.

They have HUGE assemblies of their car washers, not to mention replacement parts for all other companies. Their data base contains over 100,000 Inventor parts. :ahh: Not to mention weldments and exploded drawings. :ahh:

Being able to change once piece and have it automatically change on your assemblies and prints is just something amazing.

I love inventor but it has always seemed a bit immature. With every new version it comes closer and closer to its SolidWorks/CATIA/Whatever cousins, buts its just not quite there yet. I expect that as inventor matures and more companies make the switch from 2d to 3d it will gain much more popularity. I have high hopes

I see AutoCAD as a drawing tool and Inventor as design tool. Inventor’s ability to line things up, pattern things, and solve trig has saved me many pencil erasers. In AutoCAD, you need to know most of these things before you even start drawing. AutoCAD’s fine for getting your ideas down, but only if you know your idea before you go to software. With Inventor, you can skip paper and go straight to the computer and start playing around with ideas. It’ll line everything up for you and you can check your numbers and fix accordingly.

Also, I think that Inventor’s much more intuitive to a beginner. Anyone who can machine can grasp Inventor because most of its features work the same way their machine-shop counterparts do.

To me, the only reason that the industry hasn’t completely moved to Inventor/ProE/SolidWorks or another 3D modeler is tradition and lack of experience with the new products. I’m glad that AutoDesk gives us Inventor because I can’t imagine doing what I do (or learning to do it so quickly) with AutoCAD.


FYI, Inventor includes AutoCAD Mechanical as well if that’s what you prefer to design with. Don’t forget that there is an award for Inventor in the competitions. I think that’s motivation enough to use Inventor.

A few years back, an engineering mentor - who does AutoCAD in his sleep - wanted to teach the team AutoCAD. I came in and demonstrated parametric and associative features and how idws imported dimensions automatically and he said, “Do it in Inventor”. It was not a tough sell.

Also, one of the difficulties companies encounter in switching from AutoCAD to Inventor, or any 3d program, is vendors. They need to be up to speed as well.

I’ve been using all sorts of CAD programs for the last 15 or so years, mostly for 3D design of components and assemblies, including AutoCAD, UG, CATIA, I-DEAS, etc.

Inventor is an excellent design tool…easy to learn, and (most importantly) easy to TEACH. When I first joined with FIRST, I thought they were nuts to try to teach high school students CAD. In my experience, getting a new employee to become proficient in the the more advanced CAD systems (UG, CATIA) can take 6 months or more…and these are adults with degrees! To see kids pick up Inventor and be able to make simple models from a napkin drawing within a couple days, then be able to produce accurate working drawings within a week or two for the Build team to manufacture parts…that’s impressive.

Yes, Inventor is not nearly as complex as some of the high end systems, and you can’t do some things that those systems can, but we do not really need that kind of capability 98% of the time. Once you learn the basics of 3D construction (sketch, extrude, rotate, unite, subtract), these are the same concepts that every 3D CAD system uses…they just use different terminology from one system to another.

Oh yeah, don’t forget that once you add all the fancy design packages to UG or CATIA, you’re looking at $15,000 to $50,000+…for ONE SEAT (I’ll pause while you pick up your jaws off the floor). For the money, you can’t beat Inventor for 3D design.

I learned Inventor back in high school and now have had two classes in CATIA here at Purdue. Both were similar and I made a pretty easy transition into CATIA, so much that I think I prefer it now over Inventor. But I haven’t forgotten my roots - Inventor is a great tool that taught me a lot of the basics. Autodesk is an amazing sponsor for donating it year after year. One thing I’ve learned though is that if you can work one parametric modeler, you can work them all. Given the time to learn the interface, you can do the same things in most of them. It’s all just personal preference and what the company has decided to use to fit their needs.

I’ll just throw this out there…

SolidWorks anyone? its a huge part of the cad market and its used all over the place… not to mention its parametric, handles odd-shaped surfaces well, and if your making parts that are going to be moulded it takes very little time to make moulds.

Also, unlike inventor, when you make a gearbox or put belts on things it’s not necessary to define any ratios between rotating parts of an assembly… solidworks just knows the gears move because of the individual teeth colliding, then throw in that it does gravity in assemblies, and has both individual part stress analysis as well as whole assembly stress analysis… don’t about you but thats just cool! :yikes:


So do I. To the nearest pound, that is. Every time I try the weight thing in Inventor, it gives a number on the part. This is all well and good, until I try an assembly. Then it always under-estimates for me, so I go back through and take the weights it gives for each part and add them up. I’m usually about 10% over its estimate. Ouch. Other than that it’s nice.

Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s what cost team 1251 (TechTigers) their shooter last year. They designed around Inventor’s weight estimates and ended up over…
(I may be wrong on this so if any Tigers wanna correct me, feel free.)

I guess you aren’t familiar with Inventor Contact sets. The ratio method is actually far less processor intensive than contact solving which becomes readily apparent in large and/or complex assemblies.

Inventor Dynamic Simulation is pretty cool too. Just throw in gravity, define your forces…

Additionally, it seems that many colleges (maybe I’m wrong, I’m mostly only familiar with Olin and UMichigan) use solidworks.

As long as there are going to be many different CAD packages, it’s likely that you’ll have to learn a different one eventually. Getting used to transitioning between them as a result of using inventor in FIRST (Although my team used UG, and only a little inventor for learning), and then learning another program later helps prepare you more for the job market, in addition to the benefit of being able to manipulate multiple software packages.

(Also, solidworks has a pretty cool add-in called “cosmos motion” that can simulate interactions and forces.)

Why would i use inventor over other drafting programs? because it’s easy and fun. I’ve used AutoCAD and the environment is just not the same. with inventor i can whip up 2d representations, quick sketches, illustrations for ideas, finished products, and exploded views of assemblies… in several minutes - if i have everything i need. it helps that i enjoy doing it, too. :slight_smile:

sometimes i even put down my PS2 controller and make stuff in inventor…

Wow…how boring ARE your games? haha

This may have just been my team, but when we got our copy of Inventor, it included a copy of AutoCad Mechanical. If Inventor is such a bad program, just use the copy AutoCad that was given out. and for some of us (the mechanically inclined portion) inventor is a much easier program to use. being able to start with a block and add and remove material just like you were actually machining them.

hey, Guitar Hero is very hard to put down, and i do it, just so i can play with Inventor.

Haha, I tried to play Guitar Hero a few times. I’m kinda glad I didn’t get good at it, otherwise, I’d probably spend more time playing that than going to class :stuck_out_tongue: