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Converting Autodesk® Inventor™ iPart Factories to Toolbox Parts

2 April 2007 One Comment

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Several months ago, I was contacted by SolidWorks in regards to a prospective customer that was considering switching from Autodesk® Inventor™.  The prospect had several years worth of MIL-spec and NAS hardware libraries modelled and was concerned about reusing that data in SolidWorks.

We went through the same situation when we switched to SolidWorks.  Believe it or not, there is a way to reuse the library data from Inventor™ instead of recreating everything from scratch.

The iPart data can be exported out of Inventor™ to an Excel spreadsheet.  This data can then be used to populate a Design Table in SolidWorks.  You can also bring the solid data into SolidWorks.  I discuss this in the notes below.

For a simple part, this process is relatively quick and easy.  For a more complex part, it will take a little longer to set up, but you can still quickly populate the driving Design Table.

I have created a short video demonstrating the process using a socket head cap screw.

There are a few notes to consider about the video:

  • This process does require a valid license of Autodesk® Inventor™ in order to get the library part information from the iPart.
  • I chose to export the Inventor™ iPart to STEP format.  This being a simple part, it was easy to bring it into SolidWorks and run FeatureWorks on it.  If it had been a more complicated part, it may have been easier to rebuild it from scratch in SolidWorks.  That is a consideration that must be made on a per-part basis.  It should also be noted that SolidWorks 2007 can directly open Inventor™ parts up to version 10, but this part was in version 11.
  • You can copy and paste from the Inventor™ spreadsheet directly to the SolidWorks Design Table, but I chose to save a copy out so that if I had to, I could manipulate the data without impacting the original iPart.
  • I didn’t go through the steps of adding the cosmetic threads, but it is easy enough to do by adding the features and using the Design Table to control the suprression states.
  • I apologize for there being no audio, but my mic seems to have quit functioning!

I hope this helps anyone out there who needs to move library data from Autodesk® Inventor™ to SolidWorks.  Of course, you could use a similar process to go the other way, but why would you want to do that?  😉

I kid, I kid!  Seriously, simplifying data transfer between various CAD packages is one of the main gripes I have and one that I hear a lot of out there in the community.  It seems to be getting a little better, and hopefully all CAD vendors will continue to work to make that process less painful and more automatic in the future.

As there was no audio, if there are any questions on any part of the video that need further clarification, please leave a comment!

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