AutoDesk Inventor supposed to be easy?

Post Reply
Posts: 59
Joined: Mon Jun 08, 2015 4:54 am
Location: Houston-ish, TX

AutoDesk Inventor supposed to be easy?

Post by DigitalDaze » Mon Aug 24, 2015 12:28 am

First, I should mention, I am a newbie to the CAD programs and to CNC. I did take a course more than 20 years ago in my younger years for AutoCAD, but things have changed.. a lot!

I was able to get my hands on a copy of AUTODESK INVENTOR 2016. Wow, I really have no idea what I'm doing. I can hand sketch what im trying to make, but have no idea how to get that into this program. This was supposed to be one of the easier programs to use. I've gone through a couple videos on the program..... but before I spend the next week or month going through all the videos for the INVENTOR program.

Are there easier programs to learn for a new person? Which are they?


Posts: 8628
Joined: Mon Apr 09, 2012 6:11 pm
Location: Pennsylvania --- south of the Turnpike, East of US-15

Re: AutoDesk Inventor supposed to be easy?

Post by WillAdams » Mon Aug 24, 2015 1:05 am

We've tried to document the open-source stuff on the wiki. OpenSCAD and MakerCAM seem straight-forward enough.

But I found myself falling back on using a font editor to get files ready for engraving this weekend. (using F-engrave)

I wish there was a program which would allow direct 3D G-code manipulation.

What do you want to do?
Shapeoko 3XL #0006 w/ Carbide Compact Router w/0.125″ and ¼″ Carbide 3D precision collets

Posts: 59
Joined: Mon Jun 08, 2015 4:54 am
Location: Houston-ish, TX

Re: AutoDesk Inventor supposed to be easy?

Post by DigitalDaze » Mon Aug 24, 2015 2:34 am

I am trying to draw/design a desk/workbench where I can identify individual parts and dimensions. It maybe beyond my current training.

Posts: 1351
Joined: Tue Jan 29, 2013 4:51 pm
Location: Minneapolis, MN

Re: AutoDesk Inventor supposed to be easy?

Post by twforeman » Mon Aug 24, 2015 2:30 pm

No high-end CAD system will be easy to just jump into. There is a pretty good base of knowledge you need.

I've been a CAD jockey since the 80's and believe it or not, they used to be a lot worse.

I use Inventor quite a bit and like it, but I wouldn't say it's easy for a new user to learn by just poking around.

Just as a point of reference, as an experienced CAD user I find Google SketchUp to be very confusing. It does not operate the way I expect a CAD program to work.
Ender 3 3D Printer
ShapeOko v3 serial #0004 - upgrade thread
All of my ShapeOko related blog posts

Posts: 15
Joined: Thu May 21, 2015 3:58 am

Re: AutoDesk Inventor supposed to be easy?

Post by OttoPilot » Mon Aug 24, 2015 4:05 pm

Relatively speaking...Inventor is one of the easier pieces of modeling software to use. Absolutely's still quite difficult.

Autodesk has some great tutorials available inside Inventor and online. I highly recommend running through them; it's how I taught myself the software 10 years ago in High School.

Posts: 199
Joined: Mon Dec 16, 2013 2:09 pm
Location: Ohio

Re: AutoDesk Inventor supposed to be easy?

Post by CrazyBillybob » Tue Aug 25, 2015 1:13 pm

Speaking as an Old Autcad guy who recently took the plunge into the Inventor pool.... You have to change the way you think about drawing. I can see inventor being easier that something like Pro-E but only if your not programmed to run autocad. The way I was taught AutoCad was you create the basic outside shape of an object and do a lot of Boolean subtractions to get it down to the proper shape.... More of the machining was of drawing. It was all done inside of one tool. With Inventor if you want to use the same methodology you have create multiple parts then go into the assembly tool/program and add or subtract the parts from one another. I was lucky enough that where I work we have an account on (online video training) and they have a good series on transitioning from AutoCad to inventor. (I'm not affiliated in any way with just happy with the course). There are some other online tutorials that can help with the transition. I've been using Inventor off and on for about a year. I'm still faster in Autocad and for some smaller simple projects I use it just to be done. For the larger more complex projects especially if we're still fine tuning some of the dimensions I'll pull out Inventor.


Posts: 1250
Joined: Mon Apr 09, 2012 5:40 pm
Location: Dixon, IL

Re: AutoDesk Inventor supposed to be easy?

Post by edwardrford » Wed Aug 26, 2015 12:36 am

I have been using Inventor for about 10 years now. It's the program I've used to design everything related to Shapeoko. Prior to starting 10 years ago I had done a very *little* amount of AutoCAD, but nothing of substance or value. Relatively speaking, I came into inventor with zero modeling (3D or 2D) experience and I managed to learn how to use the software relatively quickly. Just remember this - draw a sketch, then extrude the sketch to however thick you want your part to be. That's enough to get you started.

Here's what I think you need to know to get started (via a 12 step example):

1.) Start with a part file (.ipt). I use mm, but you could use inches if that's how you think. Don't worry about assemblies for now. Just stick with parts.
2.) When you launch a new part, press 's', this will put you into sketch mode. You will notice 3 planes show up in orange around the origin point. You are expected to click one of these to define where your sketch goes. I click the X/Y plane (this is the vertical plane that's more left to right than it is front to back). I chose this plane for almost everything. It's more important when you begin to make drawing file (.idw) and assembly files. So for now just use X/Y.
3.) Once you've clicked on the plane, youi'll be in full sketch mode. You'll notice at the top on the ribbon, the word 'sketch' will be hightlighted in green, and the sketch features will be activated across the whole ribbon.
4.) On the left side of the ribbon will be the 'draw' section. This is where you make basic shapes. Pick something like the two point (center) rectangle. Now go down to the grid, and click on the middle point (the origin). Then drag your mouse out and up. you'll see the rectangle begin to form. When it's ROUGHLY how big you want it to be. Click the mouse again.

OK - this is where the magic starts to happen.
5.) Press 'd' on your keyboard, this will put you into dimension mode. Now click the top line of the rectangle. A small window will pop up asking you what dimension (length) you want the line to be. The value that's there will be the length the line is currently set to. Type in whatever you want - like the number 5. Then press the green check. Do the same thing with one of the vertical line. You should now have a 5" x 5" square.
6.) Now, click the left vertical line and then move over and click the center point of the sketch (the origin) and move the move up slightly - this will display a left to right arrow connecting the left vertical to the center point. Click the mouse again and enter your dimension (2.5"). You just told Inventor how far from the origin your part is placed. Do the same thing with the bottom line and the center point, again using 2.5" as your dimension. You will see that your square is now centered on the sketch.
7.) Now press 'esc' to exit dimension mode and press 'c' on your keyboard. This is going to put you in 'circle' mode. Click toward the top left of the square, and drag out a small circle. Once the circle is set, dimension it to 1" by press 'd' and then clicking on the outside of the circle. Your circle is floating in space right now. It has a dimension but it hasn't been told where exactly it's supposed to be located.
8.) You are still in dimension mode - Click the top line and then click the center of the circle, drag your mouse to the right and click. Enter the dimension (1"), press the green check box.
9.) That dimension that you just put on the circle tells it exactly where to live *RELATIVE* to the top and left line. So, no matter where you move those lines, the circle is going to remain 1" away from both. It doesn't seem like much, but it's a big deal. The more you use inventor (or any parametric modeling program) the more you will appreciate placing dimensions relative to another feature. And then having those dimensions change automatically when something else is changed.

Make it 3D
Now that we have a relatively 'finished' part (a square with a hole in one corner) let's turn this 2D sketch into a 3D part.

10.) Press the big green checkbox on the top right of the ribbon to exit sketch mode. You'll notice everything about the ribbon changes, and you're put back into 'model' mode. Your sketch will be visible on the screen, but it'll just be lines, it wont be 3D. Why not, you ask? Because we need to give it a Third Dimension!
11.) Press the 'Extrude' Button (or press 'e' on your keyboard). This will bring up a small window with a bunch of foreign looking options that you wont know what they mean. That's OK, dont worry about anything other than the 'extents' section on the right hand side.
12.) First click in the middle of your drawing (not in the middle of the circle though!) Then, select 'Distance' from the dropdown menu, then type in '1in' to the value box directly below the drop down box.
13.) Click "OK". You just told inventor to make your part 1" thick
14.) Admire your 3D part!

Shapeoko 1 #0 - a couple of upgrades.
Shapeoko 2 #0 - a couple of upgrades.
Shapeoko 3 #2 - Stock

Posts: 1061
Joined: Sun Aug 25, 2013 12:44 pm
Location: Norway

Re: AutoDesk Inventor supposed to be easy?

Post by Gadgetman! » Thu Aug 27, 2015 10:40 am

A simple desk or workbench...

There's nothing simple about a workbench. ;-)

Here's my take in OpenSCAD:

Code: Select all

//A few definitions. Change as you feel like.
/Lets give you a nice, thick tabletop:

//Whenever I buy 2x2" that has been planed and all that it measures 98x98mm
//draws with width in X axis, front toward Y=0, back towards Y+

translate([tabletop_overhang, tabletop_overhang,0])
     cube([leg_thickness, leg_thickness, table_height - tabletop_thickness]);
translate([tabletop_width - tabletop_overhang - leg_thickness, tabletop_overhang,0])
     cube([leg_thickness, leg_thickness, table_height - tabletop_thickness]);
//Rear legs are all the way back
translate([tabletop_overhang, tabletop_depth- leg_thickness,0])
     cube([leg_thickness, leg_thickness, table_height - tabletop_thickness]);
translate([tabletop_width - tabletop_overhang - leg_thickness, tabletop_depth - leg_thickness, 0])
     cube([leg_thickness, leg_thickness, table_height - tabletop_thickness]);

//adding the top...
translate([0,0,table_height - tabletop_thickness])
    cube([tabletop_width, tabletop_depth, tabletop_thickness]);


Or something like that...
(I haven't actually tried the code)

You probably want to add some reinforcements here and there, too...
Weird guy...
Shapeoko 2014F: 1000mm X/Y, 300W Quiet Cut spindle, Arduino Uno/G-shield and GRBL 0.9i
15x30 drag chains, custom spindle mount, 9mm belts, 8mm endplates, 6mm motor plates.

Posts: 290
Joined: Tue Dec 25, 2012 5:19 am
Location: Connecticut, USA

Re: AutoDesk Inventor supposed to be easy?

Post by Hans » Thu Aug 27, 2015 1:20 pm

I've observed that AutoCAD experience doesn't do one any favors in trying to learn Inventor. I'm the de facto Inventor instructor at work, and everyone who was hired for AutoCAD experience has had to start from scratch learning Inventor. If you expect that, I think you're better off than if you think you should know how it all works. IMO there's far too much to just lay it out in a forum post, so find an Inventor book (I like the ones by Curtis Waguespack, and you don't need the latest edition). Don't be intimidated by the size of the books, you only need the chapters for "sketch techniques" and "basic modeling techniques" to start making good models for CAM. I don't think the book covers how to use HSM Express.

Most importantly, mouse over any tool's button and hold it there without clicking for a few seconds, and a little image or video will pop up showing how the tool is used. Instant tutorial!
Shapeoko #1,123

Posts: 59
Joined: Mon Jun 08, 2015 4:54 am
Location: Houston-ish, TX

Re: AutoDesk Inventor supposed to be easy?

Post by DigitalDaze » Thu Aug 27, 2015 6:23 pm

Lots of good advice here, thanks to all of you.

When these few hectic days get past me, I'll slow down enough to try some of your suggestions.

-- Rem

Post Reply